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441 NPO workers allocated only P6,000 budget for 2015

Government’s proposal for a P6,000 annual budget for the 441 employees of the National Printing Office (NPO) raised eyebrows among legislators during a budget hearing last Thursday.

Also leaving a number of solons incredulous was Malacañang’s decision to slash the judiciary’s proposed P32.3-billion budget for 2015 by at least P12 billion.

That leaves the judiciary, a co-equal branch of government, only P20.3 billion to spend next year. Meanwhile, another peer in power – the House of Representatives – threatened to restrict the judiciary’s use of the (JDF)Judiciary Development Fund with an annual collection of about P870 million.

“We believe the SC deserves the P12 billion funding to further guarantee judicial independence,” said Kabataan Parytlist Rep. Terry Ridon during the budget hearing for the judiciary allocation.

LOWEST BUDGET FOR JUDICIARY

Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva, who presented the judiciary budget, said the government’s budget allocation for the courts is the lowest under the Aquino administration which recently lost a Supreme Court decision in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program. (DAP).

P6,000 BUDGET FOR SALARIES

In another budget hearing, ACT Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio called the attention of the Presidential Communications Operations Office for proposing only P6,000 for the personnel services of the NPO. The agency has 441 employees.

“These are all regular national government agency employees. Obviously, their salaries and benefits for one whole year cannot possibly be paid for by a budget of P6,000,” Tinio said.

PCOO Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. explained that the proposal is in accordance with an arrangement made with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

AGENCY’S INCOME

Coloma said NPO operations, as well as salaries of its personnel, are paid by funds derived from the income generated by the agency.

The NPO is one of only two government entities authorized by law as the exclusive printer of the government’s accountable forms, including election ballots.

‘UNORTHODOX’

Describing the arrangement as “unorthodox,” Tinio questioned the legal basis for such an agreement.

SALARY STANDARDIZATION LAW

“In fact, the Salary Standardization Law mandates that all national government plantilla positions are to be funded by the General Appropriations,” he stated.

In the absence of any other legal ground, the arrangement between Coloma and the DBM is “unlawful,” the opposition solon said.

“The law says that the budget for personnel must be funded under the General Appropriations Act in order to guarantee that employees’ salaries, allowances, and benefits will be paid, no matter what. Paying their compensation from income exposes the employees and their families to unnecessary risk. This is unacceptable,” said Tinio.

Based on previous years’ budgets, the NPO would need approximately P150 million to pay the salaries, allowances, and benefits of their employees, he said.

Tinio asked the appropriation panel chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab to require the DBM to explain.

REPORT FUNDING SOURCES

Earlier, the House appropriations panel ordered the SC to submit reports on all its funding sources not covered by the proposed 2015 national expenditures program.

Villanueva readily agreed to submit the reports on the JDF, the collection of mediation fees and the Special Allowance for the Judiciary.

  • Winie Oseña

    With these brewing budget allocation anomalies of which the target is to penalize the judicial independence, the SC should remain strong.

    Both the executive and the legislative want to punish the SC for declaring unconstitutional the PDAF and the DAP. PDAF and DAP are people’s money that the corrupt legislators and officials managed to divert into their pocket through bogus projects.

    The people filed the case against PDAF and DAP, and the SC is the power of the people against the abuse of the legislative and of the executive branches of the government. The Filipinos are very happy with the decisions of the SC.

    Putting pressure on the SC to bend on the will of the executive is subduing the power of the people and is the start of killing the democracy. The people should not allow the corrupt officials in the executive and the legislative branches to destroy the democratic process.

    • juliet

      I agree with you if I don’t see any sign of corruption in the SC and power overreach. There is a lot of things to clean on SC closet. The flip-flopping and controversial decisions, the fixer “Maam Arlene”, rampant appeal of crooks to SC for TRO or unconstitutionality of the case, very secretive SALN and questionable use of JDF.

      I will not doubt the nobleness of SC if I saw state of the art courtrooms, fast justice is served not delayed and prudent decisions in favor of the innocent not crooks. If they don’t want to clean their mess… who will?

      • marinero

        do you think this will be solved overnight? fast justice?

        • juliet

          I don’t think so it will be solve overnight.. but if there is the start of transformation.. for sure there is a solution waiting at the end. Fast justice in the since that it will not last 5 years without verdict. One cause of delay of justice as what I read was lack of judges and courtrooms. Kasama na diyan ang bargain sale ng TRO thru the effort of “Maam Arlene.” Baunin na lang sa limot ang hustisya. Kaya natatambakan sila ng mga kaso at iyon ang mga nag papa-delay.

          If we look on the other picture.. Judiciary have JDF. That is a concrete ground that the other branches should be concerned.
          To solve the problem.. first we must look how the funds is rolling. If they have no enough money for transformation congress can allocate more. But they must open their books first to address the problem thoroughly. At the end.. Pilipino pa rin ang makikinabang.