By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
Amid the uproar on the administration’s “overpriced” expenditure for the hosting of this year’s Southeast Asian Games, militant groups urged lawmakers to realign the 2020 budget to social services and improving the livelihood of the people.
The People’s Budget Campaign 2020, composed of leaders from different organizations of teachers, students, health workers, farmers, and anti-corruption advocates, questioned the “extravagant” expenditure of the government on the SEA Games while it gives budget cuts to social services.
In a press conference in Quezon City on Tuesday, the group demanded the realignment of at least P220 billion in the proposed 2020 budget to fund government programs for health, education, agriculture, and to increase the salaries of teachers, nurses and government rank and file employees.
“Aside from the P6 billion allotted for 2019 SEA Games hosting, which as we can see was misused, abused and mismanaged, there is another P9.5 billion in the 2020 budget for the payment of the sports facilities in New Clark City, including the P55 million kaldero (cauldron),” the group stated.
“These funds are better off allocated for hospitals, schools and support for our farmers,” they added.
Among the allocation the group mentioned were the additional P5 billion budget for the Philippine General Hospital, and P10 billion for the Hospital Facilities Enhancement Program of the Department of Health.
The group also called on the Congress for additional P614.69 million for the Maintenance, Operating and Other Expenses of 19 state colleges and universities (SUCs) which were slashed by the budget department, P10.7 billion budget for the free tuition program in state colleges and universities, and P150 billion additional DepEd budget to fund the granting of P30,000 base pay for teachers and 10,000 salary increase for teachers under other salary grades.
“Part of the P972.5 billion budget for infrastructure should be realigned as well given the Administration’s failure in its Build Build Build program, where only nine of 75 flagship projects have been started,” they explained.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who also chaired the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), earlier defended the P6-billion budget for the 30th SEA Games which was slammed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III added that the funds spent by the government for the construction of a sports complex in New Clark City has been “well spent.”
Dominguez also pointed out that the construction of the P9.5-billion “world-class” sports facility was finished on time and within budget.