SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The 2017 budget proposals of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) came under heavy scrutiny by lawmakers during the plenary debates because of numerous issues concerning the worsening traffic and the effectiveness of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps in helping poor Filipinos.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez of Quezon led lawmakers in scrutinizing the MMDA budget proposal of P2.13 billion for P2017, especially on how the agency will use this to solve the traffic problem.
“As of now, the MMDA, along with the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), is formulating a master plan to address the traffic problem. The MMDA master plan should incorporate short, medium and long-term solutions to the traffic problem,” said Suarez.
Suarez said that the proposed emergency powers for President Duterte might help ease the traffic congestion problem, especially through the building of railway projects. He said the projects must be subject to transparency guidelines and close scrutiny of the people especially since these are multi-billion peso undertakings.
“If it’s no less than the President who will say he is confident of the company tasked to undertake the project because of its reasonable and fairly equitable price offering, then I think the people will accept that considering the perceived honesty of our President,” Suarez said.
Rep. Alfred D. Vargas (5th District, Quezon City), floor sponsor of the MMDA budget, urged Suarez to give the agency about 30 days to finish its traffic decongestion master plan.
Rep. Jose L. Atienza, Jr. (Party-list, Buhay) challenged new MMDA Chairman Thomas Orbos to work double time and enable the agency fulfil its promise to make travel time improved to 1.83 minutes per kilometer.
“We will remind him the essence of the whole exercise is to ensure that roads and streets, highways and thoroughfares are left for the use of the motorists. If you can effectively enforce the law, then our traffic conditions will improve by as much as 50%. That is of course with the help of the local government units (LGUs),” Atienza said.
The MMDA’s 2017 budget of P2.13 billion is 9% higher than its current budget of P1.96 billion. The new budget will fund the following programs: solid waste disposal and management, P993.54 million; flood control and sewerage management, P751.29 million; traffic and transport management, P246.65 million; Pasig River ferry service, P119.40 million; and South-West Integrated Provincial Terminal (SWIPT), P19.48 million.
Meanwhile, the prolonged debates on the DSWD’s 2017 proposed budget of P129.81 billion tackled the effectivity of the 4Ps in alleviating poverty and the adverse effect of devolving to LGUs the delivery of basic services.
Rep. Emmi A. de Jesus (Party-list, Gabriela) said since the 4Ps' inception, Gabriela has always doubted the usefulness of the program as a poverty alleviation measure.
“The 4Ps needs further study to ensure that future generations will be spared from more debts and will positively benefit from the program,” said de Jesus.
Rep. Oscar Richard S. Garin, Jr. (1st District, Iloilo), floor sponsor of the DSWD budget, said the 4Ps is a social protection and not a poverty reduction program.
“In the short term, it aims to help keep children healthy and in school. Its effect might not be felt now, but in the next generation when the children-beneficiaries will be in their working ages,” said Garin.
Of the P129.9 billion DSWD budget next year, P78.7 billion will be allocated for the 4Ps.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mercedes Cagas cited the adverse impact of devolution on the delivery of basic services. She said some LGUs tend to realign social services funds to support their political objectives.
“The vagueness of the delineation of duties and responsibilities between the central government and LGUs, and the overlapping distribution of duties in the different levels of the local government are the main reasons for the poor delivery of basic services,” said Cagas.
Garin said there is no overlapping of functions and that the successful delivery of basic services mainly depends on capacity and resources of LGUs. He assured that the DSWD is doing its best to address problems pertaining to the delivery of basic services.