Tolentino: Next year’s budget should be flexible, responsive to future calamities

Published November 6, 2022, 9:16 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Francis Tolentino said he supports calls that seek to make the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 be more flexible and responsive to future natural and man-made disasters.

Tolentino pitched for an adaptive and receptive 2023 national budget following the onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng in various parts of the country last week.

“Year-round na yung calamity natin eh. At yung calamity natin, yung epekto hindi lang naman sa mga bahay at yero, agrikultura, edukasyon (Our calamity is year-round. And our calamity, the impact is not only on houses and iron, agriculture, education),” Tolentino said during his weekly radio program on DZRH.

“Lahat na pati land transportasyon, gaya nitong naputol na tulay (sa Batangas-Quezon), di ba po? Halos lahat ‘yon apektado na kaya siguro i-adjust yung budget to make it more adaptive and responsive to existing, forthcoming calamities (Everything including land transportation, like this broken bridge (in Batangas-Quezon), right? Almost all of those are affected so maybe the budget should be adjusted to make it more adaptive and responsive to existing, forthcoming calamities),” the senator noted.

Congress is set to resume its plenary session on Monday, November 7. The Senate Committee on Finance, chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara, is expected to wrap-up this week its panel deliberations for the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) under House Bill No. 4488.

Once the GAB is endorsed and elevated for plenary deliberations, Tolentino said he would make sure that next year’s budget can help the nation adjust to these kinds of catastrophe so that funds could be easily be disbursed to government agencies in charge.

“Nakatutok lahat ngayon sa National Budget, kung ano yung babaguhin dahil nga kailangan maging responsive sa mga kalamidad (Everyone is now focused on the National Budget, what will be changed because it is necessary to be responsive to disasters),” he said.

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Angara earlier disclosed the Senate’s plan to adjust the proposed P30-billion calamity fund in the proposed 2023 budget as the country struggles to recover from the devastation brought about by ‘Paeng.’

Angara said he plans to file the committee report on the 2023 GAB on Tuesday, November 8 and sponsor it in the Senate’s plenary session in the afternoon.

Senators will then hold marathon deliberations on the proposed budget. Zubiri said the Upper Chamber aims to pass the budget bill before the end of November.

Last September, President Marcos Jr. has also certified the 2023 GAB as urgent so the Philippine government can maintain continuous operations and strengthen efforts towards national economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.