Environment and ICT months: Building a technology-driven and future-proof Bagong Pilipinas

BY

BEYOND BUDGET

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Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

June is almost over, but I cannot let this month pass without commemorating two important celebrations very close to my heart: Philippine Environment Month and National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Month.


We only have one home, the Earth. Thus, we must protect and cherish it. It is in this spirit that Proclamation No. 237, s. 1988,  declared the month of June as Environment Month to focus on protecting and developing the environment. I truly believe that this year's theme, "Our Environment, Our Future,"  is apt as it is a timely reminder of the critical link between our planet's health and future generations' welfare. 


The country's recent experiences with the rising heat index as a result of El Niño and the occurrence of La Niña make it imperative for us to address the issue of climate change. 


In this regard, under the 2024 Budget Priorities Framework, aligned with the government’s 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda and the Philippine Development Plan 2023–2028, our government is prioritizing adaptation measures in agriculture and climate-proofing of infrastructure; accelerating rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems and strengthening the management and sustainable use of natural resources; and using integrated and ecosystem-based approaches and nature-based solutions for sustainable use of natural resources. 


Together with the Climate Change Commission, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) conducts Climate Change Expenditure Tagging (CCET) to track, monitor, and report government agencies' programs to help address and alleviate concerns posed by climate change.


The climate change budget has progressively increased in recent years, growing by an average of 22.5 percent from 2015 to 2024. This year, Climate Change Expenditures are at ₱457.414 billion, higher than 2022's ₱444.862 billion. The Department of Public Works and Highways received the highest CC expenditure among the departments/agencies, mainly for flood control works and structures, amounting to ₱375.011 billion, followed by the Department of Agriculture for food security programs with ₱29.271 billion, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for ecosystem and environmental stability programs at ₱10.628 billion.  

The DBM has also allocated ₱20.5 billion to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund under the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA) for disaster risk reduction, mitigation, prevention, and preparedness activities, as well as for relief, recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and other works or services in connection with natural or human-induced calamities. This allocation is on top of the ₱7.925 billion built-in Quick Response Fund (QRF), representing standby fund for relief and recovery programs to quickly normalize conditions in areas stricken by disasters, calamities, and other emergencies. 


In addition, the government's Green Green Green Program aims to transform local government units by enhancing public open spaces and green infrastructure. Some ₱1.055 billion is allocated under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 National Budget to support provinces, cities, and municipalities in promoting green open spaces and active mobility. The DBM has also released ₱999.985 million for the Support and Assistance Fund to Participatory Budgeting Program, which enables 75 municipalities nationwide, identified by civil society organizations, to access resilient and safely managed water supply and sanitation services. 


While the sustainability of the environment is our vision, I believe that our digitalization initiatives are enablers. Thus, equally important is the celebration of National ICT Month. Themed "Bayang Digital ang Bagong Pilipinas,"  the occasion highlights the digital transformation initiatives of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. (PBBM) to make the government truly responsive to the needs of the people, accountable to its constituents, and able to fulfill its promise of prosperity to everyone. 


And we begin by reforming and digitalizing our procurement system so that our kababayans will get the service they deserve. Under the New Government Procurement Act, the government will adopt green procurement practices to ensure that government purchases are economically sound, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible.  Also notable among the proposed amendments is the eMarketplace, which digitalizes the procurement of common-use supplies and equipment by serving as the government e-commerce platform. I am happy to note that the House of Representatives and the Senate have ratified its bicameral committee report. Thus, I am positive that PBBM will soon sign the proposed measure into law. 


Meanwhile, for FY 2024, our total digitalization budget more than doubled to ₱64.6 billion, higher by 159.1 percent compared with the ₱24.93 billion budget last year.  Hence, we have funded more digitalization projects, including the ₱2.5 billion Free Public Internet Access Program of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. 


Further, the implementation of DBM's 2022–2026 Digital Transformation Roadmap is in full swing and is expected to foster long-term growth by promoting efficiency, transparency, and accountability throughout the bureaucracy. With PBBM signing Executive Order No. 29 in June 2023, the full adoption of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) is underway to improve bureaucratic efficiency and deliver services efficiently. 


Among DBM's major projects are the Project Technical Innovations in the NEP Application (TINA), which focuses on implementing automation and interoperability projects for the budget management process; Project Marissa, which uses blockchain technology to enhance public financial management; and the Project Digital Information for Monitoring and Evaluation (DIME), which uses modern technologies such as satellites, drones, and geotagging to monitor and evaluate the status of government projects.


Beyond budget, the PBBM administration is paving the way to a technology-driven and sustainable nation. On the part of the DBM, rest assured that we are ensuring harmony between our environment, systems, and processes. And with your support, I am confident that all these programs and projects will achieve promising results beneficial to the present and future generations. Hence, collectively and individually, let us build a green and future-proof Bagong Pilipinas, where caring for the environment and the nation is a shared responsibility.

(Amenah F. Pangandaman is the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management.)