DILG Budget Interpellation

News & Interviews
26 November 2014

4:22 to 6:09

At 7:27 p.m., the session was resumed.
The President. The session is resumed.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, may I ask that we recognize Senator Marcos for his interventions.

The President. Senator Marcos is recognized in the period of interpellations.

Senator Marcos. Thank you, Mr. President. Your Honors, good evening. I just would like to go through some of the information that we have getting from the budget proposal of DILG. I am looking, at the Statement of Allotment Obligations and Balances as of June 30, 2014 of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and I notice that the obligations incurred are still at a fairly low number, especially,--well, the PS is at 52.5% which would make sense but the MOOE is at 35.9%, this is as of June, and the Capital Outlay is at 35% which brings the total for obligations incurred to 37.8% which seems rather low. Would there be a particular reason why this number is not as close to one-half as the Personal Services obligations incurred.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, according to the DILG, their utilization rate as of today is at 52%; their projected utilization rate by the end of December will be at 75%.

Senator Marcos. This is the average for the Personal Services, MOOE and the Capital Outlay.

Senator Escudero. That is correct, Mr. President.

Senator Marcos. Is there a reason why we have not been able to....Because it brings back the issue of absorptive capacity or necessity for the budget and maybe the budget that was given was not needed, and therefore, we should look again at the 2015 proposal.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, what is lagging them is the 700 unfilled positions in the DILG Proper because the capital outlay, Mr. President, utilization is although not yet at 100% getting there given that the projects take time to implement, finish and complete, however, what is pulling them down is the absorptive capacity for PS on the vacant positions.

Senator Marcos. Very well. We will come to the vacant positions. But to return to the utilization of the 2014 budget, what were their programs and what programs and projects would suffer delays in the implementation because of that shortfall in expenditures?

Senator Escudero. Most if not all will be done, Mr. President. It just takes time to implement the projects, to bid it out and to actually complete them. But hindi naman talaga po sa may hindi na-implement, it is just taking time to implement them, according to the secretary.

Senator Marcos. So the projection of the department is that all the programs and projects that were scheduled for 2014 will, in fact, be implemented.

Senator Escudero. They will undertake all, Mr. President, according to the secretary, and they do not have, as of now, discontinued projects.

Senator Marcos. So there are no discontinued projects.

Senator Escudero. None, Mr. President, according to the secretary. Senator Marcos. So as the projections go right now, if there are delays in the projects, now they will all be implemented by the end of the year. This is their projection.

Senator Escudero. If not by the end of the year, it will be continued by the first quarter, Mr. President, since this would have been obligated already.

Senator Marcos. Will there be an additional cost because of that delay inevitably, because if it is going to be bid over into the next year.

Senator Escudero. None according to the secretary, Mr. President, because they understand it. Once it has been obligated, there is already an agreed contract price and it is only with respect to the implementation of the project under the same contract price in the previous year.

Senator Marcos. Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Sponsor.

I would like to go now to the Special Provisions which pertain to programs and projects included in the DILG Osec operations and locally funded projects which total P12.7 billion which comprises 79% of the proposed budget. I have a table made up here that comes from the 2015 proposed budget. These programs, specifically PAMANA, Salintubig, ISF, all within the mandate of the DILG?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, level three insofar as Salintubig is concerned would be under LWUA. Below that level two which is Salintubig is within the mandate of the DILG, according to the secretary. As far as PAMANA is concerned, it is lodged in the various agencies depending on the suitable project as identified by OPAPP kung saang agency ang may mandate. As far as ISF is concerned, in the past--this was discussed during the committee hearings--Mr. President, ang problema sa pag-relocate ng informal settlers ay iyong local government units na madalas nagsisilbing parang protector.

So the executive branch thought it best to make the DILG the lead agency to implement these resettlement projects in coordination with the local government units which are under the supervision of the DILG.

Senator Marcos. I raised the question because under the strict mandate of the DILG, the DILG is to supervise the various local government units. And now we have all of these other programs which involve construction, such as flood control, delivery of potable water, local roads, construction of health clinics under the grassroots participatory budgeting program. These are still, in the view of the department, within the mandate of the DILG.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, according to the secretary, the DILG does not itself undertake the construction projects. It is the local government units that undertake these projects. They only supervise, ensure capability and monitor compliance with the programs of work and/or other regulations.

Senator Marcos. Then surely the budget for those programs should be put under the implementing agency, the different departments that will in fact implement them. I have a particular perspective on this because I am the chairman of both the local government and the public works committees in the Senate. So, many of these local roads construction, flood control, construction of health clinics, that would clearly fall within the mandate of public works, and in the case of health clinics, under the DOH. But still, public works would undertake those programs. So, the question is, why is it now being put under the DILG if they are not implementing those programs?


Senator Escudero. Mr. President, I move that we suspend the session
for one minute.

The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the
session is suspended for one minute.

It was 7:36 p.m.

RESUMPTION OF SESSION At 7:36 p.m., the session was resumed.

The President. The session is resumed.

Senator Marcos. Thank you, Mr. President. The Sponsor just showed me a couple of documents which purport to be the legal basis for the DILG budget. One for the water supply.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, I have further documents, Salintubig and the legal basis for the implementation of the same by DILG, PAMANA also, ISF and even GPB. We will furnish the gentleman with copies of these documents.

Senator Marcos. Yes, Mr. President. All those documents which as I said purport to be the legal basis for the DILG’s budget under those particular items. And so, it is clear that the DILG will not implement these programs, not any of those.

Senator Escudero. The LGUs, Mr. President, not the DILG itslef.

Senator Marcos. So, this is all over and above the 40% of IRA, P389.86 billion in 2015. And after the implementation of these programs, who monitors the implementation of the program? Kung maganda ang trabaho, kung on time, kung overpriced.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, to answer the first question, yes, it is on top of the IRA being given by the national government. To answer the second question, the DILG will monitor it. That is why as earlier discussed with Senator Binay, they have monitoring and evaluation fund or budget precisely to oversee the implementation of these projects.

Senator Marcos. So, since these are not traditionally under the DILG, and some of these programs are necessarily quite technical, is the DILG increasing its capabilities to monitor, on the purely technical basis, all of the programs that fall under their budget?

Senator Escudero. According to the secretary, they have the capability. It is not the first year that they are implementing it. They have been implementing it over the last four years and they have been able to generate the capacity to do so. In fact, these projects were begun even during the time of the late Secretary Jessie Robredo.

Senator Marcos. Yes. The reason that it comes up is that the numbers have expanded rather noticeably. That is why the only question is the capacity or the capability of the department to, well, in the first place, I was going to ask, implement, but as the gentleman said, the implementation is done by other agencies. Then, for them to monitor and to regulate, I suppose, the LGUs when they implement these programs.

Senator Escudero. The monitoring and evaluation fund carries with it a percentage based on totals, so, kung mas malaki po iyong amount mas malaki din po iyong monitoring and evaluation expense.

Senator Marcos. And that translates into, I am guessing, correct me if I am wrong, additional manpower, additional training, additional equipment.

Senator Escudero. They are hiring only a few, Mr. President, but most are in placed already given that this has been ongoing for the previous years.

Senator Marcos. Again, it is because we tried to cut any way as possible in our budget and the capability is extremely important. But let us leave that for now and move on to the next point. I would like to ask about the Performance-Based Challenge Fund. Could they be more specific on the qualifications under the Local Government Performance Management Program for a local government unit to be eligible for a project?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, dapat po pumasa siya sa lahat ng tatlong core which are unqualified or qualified, co-opinion, compliance with full-disclosure policy, National Gawad Kalasag awardee, or meets the following: organized LDRRMC and NLDRRMO, hazard awareness, conducts risk assessment and links information to CLUP, LDRRM plan, contingency plan or climate change action plan, manifests critical preparedness actions, for example, early warning system in place, evacuation center identified, SARO organized, equipped and trained, and pre-positioning of relief operations and medical security services. Core 3, presence of care facility for children, women and PWDs, and senior citizens; presence of violence against women and children desk; and with licensed LSWDO; compliance with accessibility law, PhilHealth certified LGU-ran hospitals and rural health units; align DepEd and local school board plans and at least 70% completion rate; complied the IP mandatory representation of the sanggunian; CSO represented in the Local Development Council and at least one of the essential requirements, namely: NCC's top 50 or PCCI's finalist on most business friendly LGUs award; or complied with BPLS standards and has a system of tracking business data and as designated a--Essential 2, local anti-criminality action plan adopted, logistics or financial support provided to local police stations, local peace and order council convened; and community-oriented policy mechanism established. These are the guidelines, Mr. President.

Senator Marcos. So, those are all the requirements that is fairly substantial--

Senator Escudero. Medyo marami-rami po.

Senator Marcos. Mahaba-habang checklist iyan.

Senator Escudero. Only 20% according to the Secretary, Mr. President. Senator Marcos. Only 20% of that list that the gentleman just-- Senator Escudero. Iyong naa-award-an po.

Senator Marcos. Iyong naa-award-an?

Senator Escudero. Iyong mabibigyan kung saka-sakali, Mr. President, would be only about 20%.

Senator Marcos. Because only 20% qualify under the checklist that was just read.

Senator Escudero. The top 20% with the most qualifications, Mr. President. Hindi po lalampas ng 20%.

Senator Marcos. With the most qualifications. So, it does not work out to top 20% of all LGUs? Because there will be LGUs with zero compliance?

Senator Escudero. Yes.

Senator Marcos. And there will be 100% compliance, they will be at the top?

Senator Escudero. Top 20%, Mr. President. The base would be all LGUs, cities and municipalities.

Senator Marcos. So, whatever the qualifications are, the basis is still 20%? Essentially, it is a fixed proportion of all LGUs who are considered qualified under the Local Government Performance Management Program.

Senator Escudero. That is correct, Mr. President, the top 20.

Senator Marcos. So, the qualification is just the top 20, basta top 20% whatever is the--which of those items in the checklist they qualified to. It will just be the top 20%. And added question, I understand these projects must be aligned with the Philippine Development Plan, am I correct?

Senator Escudero. The Secretary is nodding his head, Mr. President. Just to clarify in the previous point, Mr. President. They have to comply with the requirements. But, a situation may arise, the three core requirements are read earlier and, at least, one of the essential requirements. It is possible that they would not even reach the number of 20% out of total LGUs, but that would be the total maximum number, Mr. President.

Senator Marcos. All right. So, to go back to that point, how many are considered eligible? How many LGUs?

Senator Escudero. The assessment is ongoing, Mr. President. For 2014, the assessment is ongoing, Mr. President.

Senator Marcos. So, we still do not have the list of the LGUs that are....

Senator Escudero. Iyong awardees po ng 2014, 2015 maibibigay dahil 2015 na budget po ito.

Senator Marcos. For 2015?

Senator Escudero. Opo, so ina-assess pa lamang po kung sino iyong magku-qualify doon sa 2015 budget.

Senator Marcos. So, kailan ma-generate iyong listahan na iyan para makita natin kung sino ang mga LGU ang nag-qualify doon sa iyong tatlong core requirements tapos lahat ng checklists na nabasa mo, Mr. President.

Senator Escudero. Within the first quarter, secretary is saying, first two months of 2015.

Senator Marcos. Very well. I suppose we will monitor that to see how that program will be implemented.

Senator Escudero. Ang layunin po nila, Mr. President, kaya hopefully first two months, first quarter of the year, dahil iyong pondo para ma- implement. Next year din po.

Senator Marcos. All right, thank you. And, the projects must be aligned with the Philippine Development Plan, I think, the gentleman answered that question.

Senator Escudero. Yes, the secretary was nodding his head again.

Senator Marcos. Why is there a necessity to align it with the Philippine Development Plan?

Senator Escudero. Para lang daw po hindi sabog iyong pera since this is money coming from the national government, Mr. President. They would like to align the expenditures with the development plan.

Senator Marcos. So, even those who qualify for the LGPNP, to keep it manageable, LGPNP will still have a menu.

Senator Escudero. Basically, Mr. President.

Senator Marcos. Like what all other LGUs have and have to work within.

Senator Escudero. Yes, Mr. President. But, basically in broad strokes, it would be the MDGs, according to the DILG.

Senator Marcos. Well, I bring up this large expenditures coming out of the DILG, only because the concept behind the 1991 Local Government Code was supposed to give the LGUs greater autonomy in their expenditures. And, the Local Government Code also envisioned the creation and the encouragement of self-sustainability and self-sufficiency of the LGUs. This allocation based on alignment of projects with the PDP redirect policy efforts of the LGUs.

In other words, it limits rather than gives more autonomy by what the attempts were with decentralization, most particularly, with health care and with agriculture that was an attempt to give more autonomy. The greater powers now that the local government officials have, this seems to be going the other way. And, these allocations based on the alignment of project limits now, limits the autonomy of the local government units to pursue projects that are particular to their community. Would that not be a reasonable conclusion?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, it is indeed envisioned that the LGUs will to be self-sufficient. However, as far as local autonomy is concerned, that is precisely what the government is giving them via their utilization of their IRA freely without any government direction on how it will be spent.

However, this particular fund is a conditional grant given to LGUs and this is basically NG not LGU funds. Hindi po sila lahat binibigyan kaya may kapangyarihan naman po siguro ang national government na sabihin because this is on top of IRA, kung saan po ito maaari o dapat gastusin. But, since it is in line with the MDGs, Mr. President, I think most LGUs would still be in the red, as far as complying with MDGs are concerned. It is a matter of utilizing these funds should they win for this MDG expenditures, freeing up some IRA money to do some other things that they might want to do.

Senator Marcos. Yes, but again, it reminds me of some of the most successful community development programs that were addressed towards barangays, municipalities, not necessarily cities or provinces but rather the smaller LGUs were those wherein the technical requirement, for example, whereas a barangay or a municipality will be asking for a road or a bridge if assessed properly, a technical assessment would say: “No, what you need first is a water system, what you need first is irrigation, et cetera, et cetera.” And so that kind of focused expenditure on the actual needs of each community is no longer being exercised because the word comes from the national government which again is lessening the autonomy of the local government units which again, the Local Government Code has strived to increase and has managed to do for the last 20 odd years.

Senator Escudero. Again, Mr. President, this is the position of the DILG that this is a conditional grant not inclusive of the mandate under the Local Government Code insofar as the IRA or funds to be given to local government is concerned. And at the end of the dates, the LGUs that actually choose which project they would want to undertake but, of course, within the menu or list of projects which is based again on the MDGs, broad enough to encompass almost actually anything, mostly the priorities of the LGUs especially the small ones to include among others for example, concerns related to health, education, water supply and other social welfare projects.

Senator Marcos. Well, I would argue that those are particularly general by that I mean that all small LGUs are in need of additional RHUs, healthcare units, water supply, et cetera. But each LGU at some point must be considered unique and we must allow the local government officials to decide what it is that they need. And it is important that we give them that free hand and should we not perhaps, because I know, as a local government official myself and being in constant conference with all local government officials, they bridle against this kind of menus that are being passed down from the national governments. The general reaction is that how can the national government know what is required in my barangay, in my municipality, and that is why, again, the idea of menus. This is not the first time that the menus have been imposed on the local government units. Even at the time like, for example, the handling of the IRA in terms of savings has already been changed away from what is actually said in the Local Government Code, what is laid out in the Local Government Code. So, it is worrisome because the autonomy of the local government unit is important. The idea that they are strong and self- determining is something that leads to a more stable, governmental, and political structure. That is why it is important. And I am afraid that in my view that this is going the other way and I would like to suggest that perhaps the menu be loosened; or at least, the menu be given a more a larger scope in terms of the decision making at the local level.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, the DILG will endeavor to submit to the gentleman a copy of the menu and the secretary is confident that it is broad enough to encompass almost anything that an LGU may desire to construct or promote in their respective locality. If it is outside of what they need, Mr. President, I am sure the LGU would have allocated funds from their IRA for this purposes and therefore, if they can utilize these funds for certain MDGs projects then it would free up a portion of the IRA that they can use to do things outside of what is provided for in the menus. So, at the end of the day, Mr. President, they would be able to achieve their goals utilizing funds coming from either IRA, the BUB or GPB, and this would be an additional source of funds for the LGU.

Senator Marcos. And as a further suggestion, perhaps, it would be good if we are reexamining this menu that you are talking about that it be done in consultation with local government officials, maybe the different leagues, for example, are the natural representatives or they are different class of LGU.

So, again, as we go and study this menu and we try to make it better and more responsive, the inputs of the local government officials will be critical in that. There will certainly be areas that are common to many local governments but I think that we will find that some parochial issues will pop up and are absolutely necessary for those local government units and there must be a mechanism, there must be a flexibility to allow them to pursue that particular course of development, that, again, is going back to this idea of autonomy and making sure that the autonomy of the local government units is not only preserved but is even widened and that they be given a bigger scope in terms of deciding the future of their community.

Senator Escudero. We agree, Mr. President. In fact, according to the DILG secretary, all the leagues have signed off to this menu but, admittedly, this is a work in progress and they are continually working with the various local government units and leagues for the guidelines. Ang isang common complaint lamang po talaga dapat daw mas malaki ang ibigay.

Senator Marcos. That is not exactly a surprise, of course, because the funding in the local government level is always tight.

Furthermore, to ask another question, for the possibility of LGUs to be self-reliant will weaken again the autonomy question, it is extremely important because it is central to the function of the local government units as defined in the Local Government Code. So, the possibility of LGU's self-reliance will weaken, if given these alternative but conditioned financing options, since it allows a soft budget constraint contrary to a hard budget constraint which would train LGUs to be self-reliant. Why do we need to have, again, these conditions? Why is this grant being given? Why is this conditional grant being given?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, on the part of the national government, they want to encourage a particular direction in line with the administration's thrusts on complying with our MDG--Millenium Development Goals--goal of the administration as well as promoting good governance, hence, the incentivized system of granting these projects to LGUs.

Again, Mr. President, just for the record, this does not in any way impinge on the IRA being granted to the LGUs. This is over and above and on top of that.

Senator Marcos. I certainly understand that. But, again, I fear that we will again be accused of being imperial Manila imposing all of these conditions and, shall we say, limiting the options that are available to the local government units. But, I think, I have made my point and it is basically that it is important to continue the development of the autonomous nature of our different LGUs. If we must allow our LGUs to decide for themselves as much as possible without violating any of the precepts that the National Investment Plan or the National Economic Plan have put forward but, again, parochial issues are just as important as the national issues when it comes to the local communities.

I would like now to ask about the enhancement of LGU capacity on the climate change adaptation and disaster risk management framework. As we can imagine, this has become very, very important considering all the typhoons that we have had, also the assessment by the DSWD itself that during the crisis, one of the problems is that we did not have an SOP or standard operating procedure in place. And so, it is very important that this enhancement that we are talking about on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management framework is implemented properly because it is frightening to think, but we are told that the bad weather or the climate change that we are suffering right now is, in fact, the new norm.

So, perhaps it could be explained how are the funds distributed; and which LGUs are eligible; and how are those funds spent; what particular focus is being given to the expenditure of those funds; and again, what is the participation of the particular local government unit in saying what is, in fact, they feel is their need when it comes to disaster preparedness and mitigation.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, these are basically funds for training downloaded to the DILG regional offices that are responsible for managing the conduct of such trainings based on standard modules developed by the Local Government Academy. These trainings are implemented in partnership with the Climate Change Commission, the OCD, the DOST and other relevant agencies. Academic institutions are likewise involved, such as the U.P. Los Banos, Manila Observatory and other local resource institutions. The LGUs covered by the program are the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays in the 18 major river basins, highly vulnerable provinces and those located in the eastern seaboard. More specifically, it covers 47 provinces in the 18 Major River Basins (MRBs), 20 provinces in the eastern seaboard, which covers 80 cities, 777 municipalities and 34,678 barangays.

Senator Marcos. Again, does this not more properly belong under the DENR? Does it not more properly belong under the Department of Public Works and Highways, seeing as these are studies being made on the capabilities to survive disasters and to mitigate their effects? Again, it would not seem to be part of the mandate of a department which supervises local governance. So, again, since those departments are doing them anyway—that job belongs to them anyway--and they have similar items in their budget, should we not leave it to the specialists to manage that particular program?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, under the DRRMM Act of 2010, the DILG, as vice-chairperson—and I am quoting for disaster preparedness—is mandated to build capacities of LGUs to effectively address and mitigate the impacts of disasters and calamities. Likewise, under the Climate Change Act of 2009, particularly Section 15 (b), the DILG and the Local Government Academy shall facilitate—again, I am quoting—the development and provision of a training program for LGUs insofar as climate change is concerned.

Senator Marcos. So, Mr. President, there is no building. It is just training.

Senator Escudero. Training lamang po.

Senator Marcos. Because I look back at the special provisions for the budget and that particular item is the smallest one, at P76 million. And so, I can imagine that there is no construction there.

Senator Escudero. Wala po.

Senator Marcos. Okay, Thank you.

Now, I would like to go to the PAMANA item. And just as a general background, which regions—let us do it by region—as identified by OPAPP where are the conflict-affected areas?

Senator Escudero. Again, Mr. President, as a rule, the PAMANA areas are areas other than MILF-conflict areas—hindi po kasama iyong ARMM.

Senator Marcos. No. Non-ARMM.

Senator Escudero. Yes. In CAR, Mr. President, the provinces of Benguet, Abra, Mountain Province, Kalinga and Ifugao; In Region IV-B—this is 2014 PAMANA, Mr. President—Oriental Mindoro, particularly the three municipalities therein; in Albay, one municipality; in Camarines Norte, two municipalities; in Camarines Sur, five municipalities; in Masbate, six municipalities; in Sorsogon, three municipalities; in Negros Occidental, two cities and three municipalities; in Aklan, one municipality; Negros Oriental, two cities and two municipalities; Northern Samar, two municipalities; Samar, three municipalities; Eastern Samar, two municipalities; Zamboanga del Norte, three municipalities, Zamboanga Sibugay, one municipality; Zamboanga del Sur, one municipality; Bukidnon, two municipalities; Lanao del Norte, one municipality; Compostela Valley, eight municipalities; Davao del Norte, two municipalities; Davao Occidental, one municipality; Davao del Sur, one municipality; Davao City, Davao Oriental, four municipalities. Can we give the good gentleman the list, Mr. President? I have the name of the municipalities.

Senator Marcos. Yes, please, so that the sponsor does not need to name them all. Could the gentleman just give me the number of the municipalities on his list.

Senator Escudero. It covers 34 provinces, not all municipalities, two highly urbanized cities, and 96 cities and municipalities.

Senator Marcos. I know it is not a special function of the DILG, but perhaps the sponsor could....

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, these are all identified by OPAPP.

Senator Marcos. OPPAP, I understand. But again, because I know some of the areas that the sponsor named, and I am now very curious to know how conflict-affected, the phrase "conflict-affected" is defined? How does one decide that an area is conflict-affected? As I said, some of the areas the sponsor mentioned I do not remember them being particularly in distress when it comes to conflicts as we generally understand that to mean.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, what I have here is, PAMANA areas are selected and prioritized based on information provided by LGUs and the security sector as well areas identified in closure agreements entered into by the government with the various rebel groups.

Senator Marcos. I would never suggest that we lessen any funding that is given to local government and I would encourage any additional local funding to local government. But to have the LGUs make that assessment would seem to be....Because it will be a natural thing for the LGU to claim to be conflict-affected so that they got these funds. So, we have to get a little bit more rigorous when we are trying to determine which is, in fact, conflict- affected.

I am belaboring this point because, as I said, there are areas like I spoke about in CAR, which I am familiar with that, in my view, do not fall under that kind of categorization where we could define them as conflict-affected, that is why I am wondering how those areas and the others were included in the list.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, because as far as CAR is concerned, I agree with the gentleman. However, these areas covered by the closure agreements by the Cordillera Budong Administration, the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido Ng Manggagawa Ng Pilipinas, the Revolutionary Ploletarian Army, ABB, RPMP, RPA-ABB-TPG. So,....

Senator Marcos. So, these are all in CAR? All of those groups that the sponsor mentioned are all in CAR?

Senator Escudero. Yes, as far as CPLA, Mr. President, is concerned.

Senator Marcos. All right. So just so long as there is an agreement, let us say, there is a conflict, the conflict is resolved and/or negotiated and the parties come to an agreement, then whatever the agreements are that are made to come to that settlement become part of this Pamana program.

Senator Escudero. That is, among others, Mr. President, yes.

Senator Marcos. Again, my ongoing observation, and that, as we know, this is spread over other different departments and with the more direct involvement in this areas, again, it would seem that for department, it is mandated, it is a supervision of the politics and the governance of local government, perhaps this might be falling outside the ambit. But then again, I have made that observation before, and let me move on to my next point without belaboring it further.

I would like now to go to the Salintubig Program or the Potable Water Supply Project, Sagana At Ligtas Na Tubig Sa Lahat. Are all waterless barangays and municipalities given access to this fund? Or are there criteria for eligibility for the funds of this program? As long as it can be shown that there is no constant, safe water supply to that community, does that immediately qualify them or is there again a stringent or a rigorous checklist that they must go through to qualify?

Senator Escudero. The list is provided for by NAPC, Mr. President, and the criteria would be: low water access, high incidence of water-borne diseases, and poverty incidence. According to the DILG, there are 455 waterless municipalities and 1,353 waterless municipalities with waterless barangays emanating from the NAPC. The list, meaning to say, emanating from the NAPC.

Senator Marcos. Yes, the list is from NAPC. Since Secretary Singson has already been named as the water czar, again, does this not more naturally belong under the Department of Public Works and Highways simply because, essentially, the implementation of this would require technical capability which resides in the Department of Public Works and Highways or DPWH? Again this is the same point that I have made several times now in that this belongs in another department and that it has, in my view, fallen outside the brief of the Department of Interior and Local Government which is for the supervision of our local government units.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, according to the Secretary, this has, in fact, been offered to the DPWH, but the DPWH secretary was not in favor of handling this because the LWUA which is under DPWH handles Level 3 and the water projects under Salintubig only pertain to Level 1, mostly Level 2 water systems, na masyado raw maliit at hindi economically feasible sa parte po ng LWUA. That is why they would rather that the LGUs, through the DILG, would be the ones to implement these projects. Again, it is not the DILG that implements these projects. It is the local government units that implement these projects.

Senator Marcos. So, having been determined as qualified for this list of waterless LGUs, this list of waterless LGUs are identified by the DILG. Am I correct in saying that the Salintubig item in the 2015 proposed budget of P1,000,572,730 is merely to identify the different LGUs that have problem with water supply?

Senator Escudero. That money mentioned, P1,000,572,730, is downloaded to the LGUs.

Senator Marcos. For them to implement. Is that correct?

Senator Escudero. That is correct, Mr. President. The Secretary is nodding his head.

Senator Marcos. Essentially, for the construction of water supply, the requirements are really quite technical. Is the DILG organizing a section that is particularly directed towards construction, implementation and monitoring of the small-scale water supplies of the LGUs?

Senator Escudero. According to the Secretary, the DILG, as a department, has been undertaking the same or similar projects for the past 10 years even prior to his ascension to the post. And they have the technical capacity, as well as the capability, to not only monitor but provide technical assistance to the local government units implementing these projects. Ito kasi ay maliliit na proyekto amounting to a little over a million to not more than P3 million.

Senator Marcos. Precisely, that is why in my experience that such small programs are implemented by, in some cases, the local irrigators association because the hydrology studies have to be made, all of these kinds of things that are technical, and the closest thing they can come to a technical expert for such small programs would be local.

So, again, what part does the DILG play in that process aside from providing identifying the LGUs and providing the funds for the implementation?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, they do the orientation and training on coming up with the feasibility study, training not actual, procurement and construction, water governance training, and OMN training as far as these projects are concerned. Iyong actual project po, LGU ang gagawa.

Senator Marcos. So, the actual physical implementation will be for the LGU. It is just the soft side will be the DILG.

Senator Escudero. The capacity building, Mr. President, the side would be the role of the DILG.

Senator Marcos. Very well. Again, this I believe requires a technical capability that does not necessarily reside in the department, but does so in other parts of the government. But, again, having made the point, I will move on to the next item here in my question.

The ISF within Metro Manila. Now, that is very clearly the question of whether this is within the mandate of the DILG, I think it is obvious one. In the relocation of--the politically correct term is “informal settlers”, is the provision of the resettlement area by the local government units. As far as I know, that is the only involvement and the NHA is the one that is tasked to develop that area. What role now does the DILG play in that process? And why is it limited to Metro Manila?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, it was a presidential order to the late then Secretary Robredo to implement the relocation of informal settler families within the NCR as far as the major rivers are concerned because they were in danger given their location and where they live. And that was exactly the order given by the President to the secretary’s predecessor.

As I mentioned earlier, Mr. President, we will give the gentleman a copy, if it has not yet already been given, of the legal basis of the DILG’s role as far as the resettlements are concerned.

Senator Marcos. Yes, Mr. President, I have received the copies and I will go through them later.

But, again, as I understood that order, it was exactly that was to clear the waterways that were causing flooding, let us say, NCR for now. But, again, the role that is played by the local government and one of the backlogs, the reason that there is a backlog in moving of the informal settlers is sometimes the delay by the LGUs in providing the resettlement areas. What is the difference now that the DILG itself is going to be involved? And, again, if it has to do with flood control, that is under the DPWH. The resettlement area is provided for by the LGU. The construction and development is provided for by the NHA. What is the role of the DILG and why should this program reside in the DILG?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, by virtue and pursuant to Memorandum Order No. 57, the President directed the DILG: "To immediately spearhead the transfer of informal settlers living in danger and high-risk areas to decent housing sites as may be applicable and pave the way for the clearing of clogged waterways pursuant to the DILG's mandate under Republic Act No. 6975 and Executive Order No. 292 and the provisions of the UDHA Law.

In order to pursue this directive, the DILG shall coordinate--and this is the role to which they are limited to--with the PCUP, NHA, local government units, and other relevant government agencies in order to achieve this goal."

So, the role, Mr. President, essentially of the DILG is coordinative pursuant to the direction and mandate given to them by the President.

Senator Marcos. Well, I read the quotation that the sponsor just made. As again, because in truth and in reality, the bottleneck in terms of moving out informal settlers is the provision of resettlement areas. That job falls to the local government units. And as I understood that order, the DILG would then go the LGUs and prod them to hurry in being able to provide these resettlement areas. And that was simply the simple role of the LGUs and did not require a budget because it is already within the purview of what the Department of the Interior and Local Government is already doing in terms of supervising the governance in local government units.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, precisely, as past experiences would dictate, hindi po ina-allocate-tan ng LGUs ito kaya ang pera na naka-lodge sa DILG is the one being given on top of, again, the IRA, the GPB, and the other incentivized funds to the local government units precisely to perform that mandate that they already have under the Local Government Code. In fact, for the current year alone, as of this date, they have resettled--for this year alone-- about 6,000 informal families.

Senator Marcos. So, it is an incentive fund.

Senator Escudero. No, Mr. President. Just like, what I said, on top of the IRA. As what the gentleman said a while ago, trabaho ng DILG gawin ito, pero kulang po palagi iyong pondo nila. So, ito ay ibinibigay sa mga local government units para magkaroon sila ng resources na makabili ng relocation site at ng ma-resettle itong mga ISFs. At iyong displacement allowance po na P18,000 ay kinu-course through naman sa DSWD at sila ang nagbibigay ng pera.

Senator Marcos. Yes, Mr. President, I understand that much. But if the DSWD is already giving incentives, I understand that if we are asking a family to move to a resettlement area besides the new developed structure and developed area, that there is also sometimes an incentive for them to move and to help them resettle. If that is provided by the DSWD, then what is this fund for?

Senator Escudero. Sa DILG po naka-lodge iyong pondo pero DILG ang nag-i-implement din. Iyong lupa, ang kumukuha ay ang LGU. Iyong parang disturbance na bayad, DSWD ang nagbibigay o nag-i-implement, hindi pa rin DILG. Hindi siya naka-lodge sa DSWD pero sila iyong nag-i-implement at iyong actual na pabahay, NHA naman ang gumagawa. Sila rin ang nag-i-implement.

Senator Marcos. Well, Mr. President, the NHA has its own funding. They have their own funding for the construction. And if the monies are passed on to the informal settlers by the DSWD, why do we not just put that fund with the DSWD?

Senator Escudero. The secretary has no objections, Mr. President. It was only an inherited practice, according to the secretary.

Senator Marcos. But again, kaya napapansin dahil lumalaki ang halaga na nasa item na iyan. Again, because all the functions that the sponsor enumerated were, as he said, implemented by NHA for the construction; LGU for the provision of resettlement areas and the DSWD for the incentive and the, shall we say, resettlement cost.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, as part of the 2015 Special Provisions, GAA provisions, sa DSWD po talaga ibibigay. Ni-lodge lamang ng DBM iyong pondo sa DILG pero nakalagay po sa Special Provisions naman iyong eksaktong computation na 26,367 ISFs multiplied by P18,000, the amount of P474,606,000 will be given to the DSWD.

Senator Marcos. Very well, it just seems to me again parang pinilit na ilagay sa DILG when it is rather more ungainly way of handling the funds and again, perhaps we should look much, much more closely at transferring it to those agencies that are more directly concerned with the resettlement of informal settlers. And again, although informal settlers are most generally recognized to be a problem in the urban areas most specifically NCR, there are many other urban areas and there are still sometimes resettlement problems in rural areas. So, why limit it to NCR?

Senator Escudero. Dahil iyon lamang po iyong mandato at utos ng Pangulo, again, to the predecessor of the incumbent Secretary.

But NHA is doing that. That is part of their mandate both within, I guess, and outside of the NCR in partnership with the DILG inside NCR as well as outside NCR pero hindi naman po pasok o kasama o involved ang DILG.

Senator Marcos. So, DILG, for whatever reason, is doing the same job as other agencies are doing in other cities, and so in other areas, but they are only doing it in NCR for whatever reason because of--to follow the—

Senator Escudero. Again, because of the mandate and direction of the President pursuant to MC No. 57, because as stated earlier these people live in danger zones or danger areas and the President wanted posthaste to relocate them.

Senator Marcos. Very well. Again, it would seem that the consolidation of all of these programs and again, the agencies that are more directly focused or with a more direct mandate to deal with the problem would be a more streamlined, effective and efficient way. And I believe it would be more responsive as well.

But anyway, again, I have banged on about that point so I will move on to the next area which is the Grassroots Budgeting Program.

In Special Provision No. 6, it indicates that the cost of implementing GPB projects shall not exceed the cost of similar projects being implemented by national government in the same locality. How is this monitored? Is it the DILG that monitors in terms of the costing? Is it left up to COA? Is it left up to the implementing agency?

Senator Escudero. Ang nagmu-monitor po niyan ay iyong kada implementing agency na kasama nuong mandato nila na i-implement iyong particular na project na iyon. Kung ano lamang po iyong bumabagsak sa DILG, iyon lamang ang minu-monitor nila, na ang projects kung pasok iyong costing, sa Special Provisions na iyon.

Senator Marcos. So in the Grassroots Budgeting Program, to satisfy the requirement that the cost be equal to all the others, that is monitored by the implementing agency.

Senator Escudero. The respective implementing agencies, Mr. President, except for those falling under the DILG per se.

So, iyong classroom, Mr. President, DepEd ang tumitingin ng costing noon.

Senator Marcos. We are running into the same situation again where there are other agencies that are implementing, there are other agencies that are monitoring, there are other agencies that are regulating and inspecting and yet their fund is lodged in the DILG.

Senator Escudero. No, Mr. President. GPB has projects under the DepEd, the DPWH. If it is a road, DPWH; if it is a school building, DepEd; if it is related to agriculture, DA. They are the ones that monitor the projects under their respective agency’s competence and the money is with them, either lodged in the regular programs of the agency, not with the DILG. Ang nasa DILG lamang po ay iyong patungkol sa tubig.

Senator Marcos. But the GPB is the largest item in the Special Provisions at P5.6 billion. So that money must be there to be used for something. If all the other agencies...For example, if a road is built by the Department of Public Works and Highways, the DPWH makes the design. They bid out the contract. They monitor the construction and then after the construction, they audit. So those functions are all being fulfilled already. So what is the function of the DILG that is being funded by this GPB item of P5,600,000,000?

Senator Escudero. Karamihan niyan, Mr. President, ay mapupunta sa project cost na dina-download sa local government unit. Ang naiiwan lamang sa DILG dito ay iyong monitoring expense, iyong binanggit ko kanina sa naunang katanungan. We will reduce it to 2.91% of P5.7 billion or approximately P164 million. Iyon lamang iyong monitoring and evaluation expense na maiiwan sa DILG. Iyong balanse ng pondong iyon ay bababa sa local government units para i-implement iyong mga projects na in-identify nila mostly related to water.

Senator Marcos. So we are back again to the provision of water supply and again...

Senator Escudero. Essentially Salintubig, Mr. President, but for 2015, may additional yatang evacuation centers na maaaring gawin ang local government unit base sa kanilang...

Senator Marcos. The local government unit is essentially to identify buildings, stadiums, houses, et cetera, as their evacuation centers. I do not know of anywhere that an evacuation center, that a structure has been built to serve solely as an evacuation center. So again, schools obviously fall to DepEd and CHED. The stadiums that are owned by the LGUs fall to the LGUs. Again, what is the fund used for?

Senator Escudero. The gentleman is correct, Mr. President, these are usually multi-purpose structures not solely used as evacuation centers, although that is the justification being used usually by an LGU requesting for such funding coming from the GPB.

We can give the gentleman the breakdown per agency of the funds under the GPB that are being implemented by the local government units or by the agencies themselves if they form part of their regular program.

Senator Marcos. Yes, thank you very much for that, Mr. President. That would be very useful to see how this very large fund is being used. Could I have that figure again as to the percentage that actually...

Senator Escudero. It is 2.91%, Mr. President.

Senator Marcos. The 2.91% is...

Senator Escudero. Approximately P164 million, Mr. President.

Senator Marcos. Parang friction cost noong pag-implement.

Senator Escudero. Pag monitor po.

Senator Marcos. And the rest goes to the LGU?

Senator Escudero. Yes, Mr. President, according to the DILG.

Senator Marcos. Not to any other agencies of government, straight to
the LGU.

Senator Escudero. As far as the GPB fund lodged in a DILG is
concerned, yes.

Senator Marcos. Is the gentleman talking about the 2.9% or the rest of
the funds?

Senator Escudero. The rest of the P5.75.

Senator Marcos. All right. So, essentially, although we have a large fund of P5.665 billion, that is not actually used by the DILG but is passed on to the LGU and the implementation is done by the other agencies of government, the monitoring actually is done by the other agencies of government or by the LGU.

Senator Escudero. No, Mr. President. Of the P5.748, 2.91% or approximately P164 million will be retained by the DILG for monitoring and evaluation. The remaining balance will go to the local government units. Out of the total funds for GPB, P5.7 lamang po ang nasa DILG. For example, the second highest agency would be the DA, mayroon po silang P4.3 billion under the GPB program na DA naman po ang magmo-monitor nung implementation po ng mga projects na iyon.

Senator Marcos. All right. So, again, we are seeing the DILG taking on another function in actually protecting these funds. I put it that way because, again, the implementation, the monitoring, the regulation, the auditing is not done by the DILG but other agencies. So, they are what....

Senator Escudero. The monitoring is....

Senator Marcos. So, the monitoring is done and that is the 2.91%. Senator Escudero. Yes, Mr. President.

Senator Marcos. So, the 97.9% is actually being spent, used by other agencies of government.

Senator Escudero. No, Mr. President, by the local government units for the project itself. Total GPB is about P20 billion. Iyong nasa DILG po na projects for principally water is only P5.6.

Senator Marcos. All right. Staying with the water, when we look at these select special provisions, we have, as the gentleman said, the GPB is essentially concerned with water. But, he has also a Salintubig item. Why not consolidate all of the water projects in one item? We have a Salintubig of P1.572 million and again, the grassroots that the gentleman says is primarily concerned with the water supply, why is it separate?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, iyong GPB component po na tubig, ang nag-identify po noon iyong local government units mismo in coordination with local POs, NGOs. On the other hand, the Salintubig, ito po iyong in- identify ng NAPC na waterless barangays na nabanggit po kanina na tini-take into account iyong low water access, high incidence of water-borne diseases at mga poorest barangays. Ngayon, I see where the gentleman maybe leading to, posible po na iyong kinakailangan nung partikular na munisipyo ay water system din. If the Salintubig can fund it, then I guess they will not include that in the menu that they will choose from doon sa GPB. Again, everybody needs a particular project in barangays within a municipality. I think this is having several approaches to address one basic problem which is availability of potable water supply which is one of our MDGs. Personally, I will not fault the executive branch for having various approaches to address this particular MDG, either through the mechanism of GPB or the mechanism of Salintubig.

Senator Marcos. No, more funding to the local government is always a good thing as far as I am concerned. But, again, in terms of handling funds, this seems to be again an ungainly disaggregation of funds that are meant for essentially the same program which is water supply.

[Long Pause]

Senator Escudero. It developed that way, Mr. President, because Salintubig as we stated earlier, has been with the DILG for the past 10 years. This pertains to, as I said earlier also, Level 1, mostly Level 2, water systems, kaya noong ina-identify po doon sa GPB, iyong water systems, again, this would pertain to Level 1 and Level 2 only. Sa DILG napunta iyong partikular na aspetong iyon dahil hindi nga po ginagawa at ayaw gawin ng DPWH iyong lower than Level 3 na water system. That is why it could not have been lodged with them.

Again, to repeat, Mr. President, nauna po iyong Salintubig with DILG. Kaya nai-identify na po iyong tubig sa kanila when GPB came which was much later.

Senator Marcos. Well, all right. I would have thought that the simpler way would be to expand the program but never mind. As the gentleman says, it is part of the particular evolution. The particular evolution of the two items which are both concerned with water supply.

I would like to move on now to the general budget. The 2015 proposed budget of DILG, Office of the Secretary is 56.2% higher. Then the 2014 budget of P10.3 billion with a 79% increase in MOOE. These are very large increases on a year. Is there a particular reason why these increases have been proposed by the Executive?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, in real terms, the net increase in MOOE is P5.884 billion and the details of the increase will be as follows: Provision for 3% inflationary cost adjustment, P13,038,000; additional provision for local government's performance management program, Performance-Based Challenge Fund, ito po iyon for local government units, P500 million; increase in the provision for the ongoing locally-funded projects na nakalagay po sa MOOE; P5,500,399,000 ito po basically iyong Salintubig, iyong GPB at iyong PAMANA program. If I may break it down further, iyong sa Salintubig is P995 million; iyong water supply under GPB is P2.851 billion; iyong PAMANA program is P1.596 billion; iyong comprehensive local integration program ay P57 million. Iyon po ang breakdown ng P5.884 billion na increase sa MOOE.

Senator Marcos. Well, I suppose our calculations are not the same. If I could have a copy of that breakdown--

Senator Escudero. I will give the gentleman a copy, sorry, may page two pa pala. May minimal increase for general administration and support operations amounting to P174.839 million, giving a total of P5.884. We will give the gentleman a cleaner version of this because I have loose pages from their presentation. We will give the gentleman a cleaner copy of this, Mr. President.

Senator Marcos. Thank you, Mr. President, for that. It is just a matter of concern because it is an increase again in the budget of the MOOE but it is a matter of concern because there is a history of an unobligated amount of 26% in 2013 and 19.7% in 2014. So, that would seem to defy the logic that they would increase. It is to defy logic that they would increase an item which they were not able to fully utilize in the previous years. As I said, there are unobligated allotments of 26% in 2013, 19.7% in 2014 and then now, we are increasing that again. Will that just not mean that the unobligated allotments will just increase and that money will just not be used.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, I am reading their response. The department received a SARO of P1.7 billion for the recovery assistance for Yolanda. This explains the low absorptive rate, Mr. President. They received it on February 5, 2014, however it was dated December 27, 2013. Hence, the allotment was reflected in the 2013 statement of allotment and obligations as unobligated. However, as of September 30, 2014, project implementation is already at 87.92%.

Senator Marcos. And so once again, to go back to that point that we first started with that unobligated allotments will all be utilized by the end of the year.

Senator Escudero. That is correct, Mr. President, according to the secretary.

Senator Marcos. Very well.

Senator Escudero. Kaya po tumaas ng ganoon dahil na-carry over iyong late na binigay sa kanila bago matapos iyong taon ng 2013.

Senator Marcos. So, it was booked in the next year rather than in the previous year.

Senator Escudero. Two year naman po iyong validity noong budget natin ng 2014.

Senator Marcos. But when we calculate year-on-year, it should have been released earlier and therefore booked in the correct year.

Senator Escudero. November po kasi nangyari iyong Yolanda siguro naglinis din ng libro ang DBM, doon lamang po nabigay iyong pondo. But, a year later after it was given, Mr. President, 87% na ang utilization po nila and continues to go up until it reaches a 100%. As they stated earlier, Mr. President, they intend to fully implement all projects at hindi po source o pagkukunan ng savings kung saka-sakali.

Senator Marcos. So, this year, wala naman tayong naging Yolanda so there was no sudden requirements. Again, the department is confident that all of those allotments will be obligated by the end of the year.

Senator Escudero. The secretary is nodding his head, Mr. President.

Senator Marcos. All right. There are some budget items which I do not want to talk about at great length. Perhaps, I would just like a material from the department explaining some of these budget items. There is a P9 million budget item for building business-friendly and competitive LGUs, perhaps, an explanation could be given not necessarily now, maybe in writing. Also, the activities under the program for the protection of biodiversity and landscape which is an item of P126 million and the program of support for the bottom up budgeting process, empowerment fund, which receives a budget of P250 million. There is another budget item under the program Civil Society Organization-People’s Participation Partnership Program which receives P22 million. I only asked about these items because it is not immediately clear from reading the budget proposals what those are. And, so I would, if possible, be given maybe a project brief in what is the difference. I will give the gentleman the list of these items that I enumerated.

Senator Escudero. The department will comply, Mr. President. We have a copy of that lists and we have furnished the DILG with the copy, as well. Senator Marcos. Thank you. And for my final point, something that we touched upon earlier, which is the filling up of positions in the DILG and it was mentioned that this was the problem that was causing the low percentage of utilization in the different funds.

In 2013, the number of authorized position in the DILG, Office of the Secretary is 4,971; in 2013, 4,180 were filled which is 84%. In 2014, of the 4,971, 4,218 were filled which is 84.8% of the authorized positions. And in 2015 it is again the same number for authorized positions. Should we not, considering, if we look at the historical record of filled position, clearly, the DILG is doing its job. Things are functioning with 84% average rate of managing to fill those authorized positions. Why do we not reduce it by 15% and they would have filled close to a 100% of all the filled position?

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, because that is in accordance with the rationalization (rat) plan just approved recently in 2013 that is why they cannot just reduce it. Now, insofar as compliance, Mr. President, after the rat plan a lot of employees also retired and eligibility and training requirements for certain positions take time to be complied with insofar as DILGs action is concerned. They have ordered the fast-tracking of selection board activities and, in fact, they just recently completed 106 trainees which will make them eligible for promotion and hopefully 120 again within the first semester of next year.

Senator Marcos. Well, considering the total number is 4,971, a number in 100 plus is not a significant increase. So, again, perhaps we should revisit the plan, the rat plan that mandated 4,971. I just, again, see that there is a constant, the average of filled positions has remained relatively constant and perhaps it is time for us to look at it and say that that is what the department needs and there is no need to continually authorize positions that we know the department knows this, will not be filled. So, again, this seems to point to the fact that those unfilled positions are unnecessary and should not be mandated as authorized positions.

Senator Escudero. Mr. President, just to clarify. The remaining unfilled positions will only be 753. At 120 this year and 120 again in the first semester of next year. That would be a total of 240 or equivalent to about 31% of the remaining unfilled positions or a third of the remaining unfilled positions. They hope to continue to hire and fill up these positions because they have defended the rat plan before the DBM and the various agencies. I presume they need that, Mr. President, because otherwise they would not have asked for them. They are just clearly having a difficult time complying with the requirements for certain positions that are....

Senator Marcos. It just seems that they are making do very well with the 84.1 whatever percent filling the position. So perhaps we could use more of those personnel.

Senator Escudero. Well, Mr. President, making doing well and making do with what they have are totally different things. I think right now they are making do.

Senator Marcos. I disagree, they are doing well. Thank you, Mr. President; thank you Mr. Sponsor. That is the extent of my interpellation today. Thank you very much.

The President. Thank you, Senator Marcos.