President Aquino Speech at the 75th anniversary of the DBM (Video)

His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the 75th Anniversary of the Department of Budget and Management
[Delivered at the reception hall of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City on April 25, 2011]
PNoyIyong talumpati po ni [Budget and Management Secretary] Butch Abad, medyo mahaba ho yatang kaunti, ‘di ho ba? [Laughter] Tapos ho ako po ang gigising sa inyo pagkatapos ano? Pero very inspiring ang speech niya, parang akong nagaaral ulit.
Paano ho ba natin uumpisahan ito? With your permission, Butch: Si Butch ho kasi, campaign manager ko in two occasions already. And ‘yung kanyang marketing ploy po … para mapakita sa inyo kung gaano ka-creative iyong ating kalihim: Sabi niya kailangang pagusapan ho. Eh wala naman ho kaming pondo. Alam niyo, simula noong napasok ako sa gubyerno, ang litanya ho sa akin, “walang pera.” Ngayon nalang po na Secretary si Butch Abad, ‘pag natanong ko, “Butch, may pera ba tayo?” Mayroon. Basta sinabi niya, mayroon tayo niyan. Aba, iba nga talaga tono ngayon. So noong araw noong tayo’y nasa oposisyon at walang pera, nagisip siya ng paraan, paano ba ako ipakikilala sa taumbayan? So ang ginawa po niya, mayroon pong isang sikat na artistang mangangawit, at awa ng Diyos po ay naging laman kami ng mga ilang tabloid at diyaryo na hindi bababa ng walong buwan. Ako po’y nagtataka, dahil minsan ko lang ho nakilala sa buong buhay ko itong itinutukoy na singer, ay kinalabasan lahat raw ho ng concert pinanood ko, parang nagkakaigihan kami. Basta, walong buwan ho tumatakbo iyan, at ako’y nagtataka na talaga, paano pahahabain ang istorya na walang laman? At noong natapos po—hindi pa ho ako tumatakbo noong panahon na iyon—natuklasan ko kung paano ‘yung pamamaraan. ‘Di umano’y, at wala po akong kinalaman doon, nagpapadala ng bulaklak ang mga … kaibigan nalang … ni Secretary Abad doon sa babaeng kinaukulan. At tinanggap naman po. At kada bigay niya ng bulaklak, dagdag nanaman ng istorya doon sa aming paguugnayan na hindi naman po nangyari talaga. Sabi ko, “Butch, ang galing mo gumawa ng fiction, dapat naging manunulat ka nalang.”
Anyway, in reviewing my speech tonight, my speechwriters decided to enumerate so many details, details that you are all intimately familiar with. And, probably, you generated the details before they ever came to me. And I don’t want Secretary Diokno to think that i am concentrating only on the details and I miss the big picture. So perhaps I can modify the speech by a little.
Our biggest challenge was to start the budgetary process afresh, to do away with outmoded or irrelevant budgetary assumptions. Implementing a zero-based budget was no easy task. You can imagine the kind of behind-the-scenes lobbying that Secretary Abad must have dealt with in order to pass this budget. But instead of sitting back and giving in to the system that has kept this country in the dark, he, along with the rest of you in the Department of Budget and Management, stayed true to your jobs as public servants—putting the interests of the common Filipino first.
The concept of zero based budgeting is simple: using clear performance based guidelines, you take the people’s money out of projects that don’t work and put it into projects that do. Our 2011 budget shows this. We have allocated, for instance—and these are the details that, I apologize, you are more intimately familiar with—we have allocated over 21 billion pesos for our Conditional Cash Transfer program to improve the health, nutrition, and education of extremely poor families. As you know, we intend to benefit 2.3 million households, or 1.3 million more than those that benefited from this program last year. By the end of the first quarter of this year, we already had almost 1.6 million families enrolled, nearly double the 325,000 families targeted per quarter. As of last Friday, we also have deployed almost 9,950 nurses to provide essential health services to poor communities in the country. The project, billed RN HEALS or Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service, seeks to address the shortage of skilled and experienced nurses in more than 1,200 rural and unserved or underserved communities by training and deploying 10,000 unemployed nurses.
Our soldiers will also be reaping the benefits as well. We now have the resources, for example, to construct 20,000 houses for our police and military this year. These homes will be provided to our men and women in uniform at two hundred to three hundred pesos a month, much lower than the three to five thousand a month in the Metro Manila area that some of them are paying for rent and amortization. We have also been able to more than double the combat pay of our soldiers, who are putting their lives on the line to win the peace in this country.
In short, the government is finally giving the Filipino people what they deserve—a government that truly serves them and provides them with the services they urgently need.
This renewed culture of governance is becoming ingrained, not just in the DBM, but in the way all our departments work. The clearest example of this, perhaps, is the amount of money the Department of Public Works and Highways has saved from the clutches of those we perceive as corrupt. So far, we have already generated savings of about 1.3 billion pesos, and we are still looking at saving roughly 6 to 7 billion pesos by the end of this year. If DPWH can do it, then other agencies can do so.
‘Yung savings po huwag po muna niyong kunin sa akin. Hanggang hindi ho natin tangan ‘yan, hindi pa ho natin puwedeng gastusin.
Make no mistake about it: We promised reform, and we are putting our money where our mouth is. DBM’s current efforts to trim the fat from the bureaucracy will be reinforced by the support of our new appointees at COA, namely Grace Tan and Heidi Mendoza. We have also increased the budget of the Witness Protection Program from around 84 million pesos in 2010 to 151 million in 2011 so that we can take better care of our witnesses and whistleblowers who are integral to this administration’s quest for truth.
Alam po n’yo, ang ating conviction rate ay hindi ho … noong ating dinatnan, ay mga 14 percent—naging 25 percent na raw ho yata ngayon sa latest data ni [Justice] Secretary de Lima. Pero sa Witness Protection Program, kung saan ho ‘yung mga witnesses natin ay present, ‘yung conviction rate po, 95 percent. Kaya po pinalaki natin ‘yung budget nila ng ganyang kalaki.
Our search for truth and justice, however, may remain difficult to achieve if our judges and justices are not well-compensated. This is why the DBM signed a memorandum of agreement with four judges associations to provide almost 108 million pesos to augment the gap in the pay of judges, which will allow their salary levels to catch up with salary increases under the Salary Standardization Law III.
These changes are being implemented to help ensure that those who work in government and want our anticorruption efforts to succeed are able to do their job well.
We are also enjoying the confidence of foreign aid agencies as demonstrated in their support for the Philippine Energy Efficiency Project. Recently, we launched the electric tricycle program of the Department of Energy that is financed by the Asian Development Bank. This project aims to produce 20,000 e-tricycles that will serve as a better alternative to the tricycles we now have that still depend on fossil fuel and contribute to air pollution. It shows that if we embark on something good, we will attract even more good, and perhaps a small amount of luck too. We look forward to more similarly worthwhile projects in the near future that the donor community is now more inclined to support.
But the bottom line is this: The improvements we are experiencing are really just a result of our revival of a long forgotten concept that public funds are not for public officials. They belong to the Filipino people, and must therefore be spent for the Filipino people. If we can consistently put this into practice in the next five years and two months, then it will become part of the norm rather than the exception, such that the next president, the next batch of elected public servants, and our people will merely continue the good we have already begun.
Seventy-five years ago, when the DBM was first established, our founding fathers were all dreaming of building a Philippines that would be competitive and well-respected in the global milieu. Today, on the occasion of your 75th anniversary, the fulfillment of our aspirations as a people, and of the aspirations of those who have come before us, is well within the horizon. I would like to congratulate the Department of Budget and Management, especially those who are being recognized tonight for their 25 years of selfless service and sacrifice, for making all of that possible. Your hard work and dedication were instrumental in the gains we have so far achieved. May you continue the good work you have been doing, more so now that the country is well on its way in realizing the promise of a better life for more Filipinos.
And before I end, perhaps, I can really impart a little of my own soul into tonight’s activities. Sabi ko nga ho sa inyo, noong nagumpisa ako sa gobyerno marami pong pangangailangan iyong distrito ko, ang litanya wala pong pera. Kakatapos noong 1997 financial crisis at nasanay po tayo magtiis. Habang tumagal po ang panahon, ilang beses tayo nasama ni Butch Abad sa oposisyon na ang paniniwala ko naman po ay tama ang pupuntahan. Kaya umabot ho sa eksena na kung saan pati ‘yung ibinigay na sa amin bilang PDAF dumating ang punto sabi sa akin, binabawi raw yung ibinigay 10 years ago, eh kawawa naman tayo.
Ngayon po nabanggit na natin ang mga halimbawa, ang gobyerno po nabawasan natin ‘yung maling paggugol. Nahabol na po natin yung mga tiwali. Nagkaroon tayo ng pagkakataong magawa ‘yung tama. Siguro ho ako ay talagang lubusang magagalak pagbaba ko po sa June 30, 2016 magkaharapan tayo paminsan-minsan at masabi niyo sa akin: Salamat nagkaroon tayong pagkakataong lahat magawa ang tama; ang ginanda ng ating bayan, talaga naman nagmula sa ating pagtutulungan.
Ipagpatuloy po natin sana. Ang kapakanan po ng ating bansa nasa ating mga kamay, at sigurado po akong gagawin, kung hindi man ho ng lahat, ng napakarami ang tama na inaasahan ng taumbayan.
Magandang gabi po. Maraming salamat. Happy Anniversary.
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