Escudero wants relief from debt servicing, more funds to public service
by Cristina Arzadon
Laoag City (9 November) -- Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero wants a renegotiation on the payment of government's obligation saying more funds should be channelled to public service rather than debt servicing.
Congress is in the thick of reviewing the national budget. Initially, the budget has been seen to have allocated the biggest slice to the Department of Education.
Escudero, however, said the budget may appear to have prioritized education but actual government expenses do not reflect a similar picture.
"The biggest slice (representing actual expenses) goes to debt servicing and debt payment including the interest and principal," he said.
Escudero said the second biggest chunk of the national budget goes to the internal revenue allotment (IRA) share of local government units, followed by the funds for education.
"We have to renegotiate with our debtors. We need a relief from debt payment so that we can prioritize on delivering basic services to our people," he said in an interview aired over Bombo Radyo-Laoag.
He said local governments would have been given a bigger pie had the Department of Budget and Management included in the IRA computation some P75 billion that the Bureau of Customs collected in a year.
Escudero said the LGUs should have been entitled to P30 billion more in IRA share. He failed to mention, however, how much the local governments are entitled from the proposed budget.
Similarly, Escudero is batting for additional funds to be given to frontline agencies such as the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Health, Agriculture and the National Food Authority.
He said the DOH needs P4 billion to upgrade decaying regional hospitals, P5 billion for the agricultural sector and NFA and P2 billion for DepEd's school building program.
Meanwhile, Escudero said terror warnings issued against the Philippines must be taken seriously.
"Our government must coordinate with its counterparts in the fight against terror. This needs immediate attention and action 24/7, 52 weeks a year and 365 days a year. We should realize that," he said.
He said the Manila hostage crisis should have been a wake up call to authorities where even a single individual is capable of spreading terror and curtailing lives. (PIA-Ilocos Norte) [top]