Senator Panfilo Lacson sought to realign several items in the proposed 2020 national budget to plug the gap in the national identification system that is only appropriated only half of its funding requirement for next year.
He said only PHP2.4 billion has been allotted to the national ID system, whereas the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) needed more than PHP5 billion to cover the registration of an initial 14 million Filipinos and resident aliens next year.
“Magsisimula na sila sa Mayo kasi nakakasa na ang equipment and data centers, nariyan na naka-ready lahat. Kailangan mapunuan ang pondo (The PSA will start in May because the equipment and data centers are already set, everything is ready. We need to fill the funding gap),” Lacson said.
To fill the gap, he said there are many items in next year’s proposed PHP4.1 trillion budget that can be realigned to fully fund the national ID.
Among them is the PHP5 billion fund allotted for the National Greening Program (NGP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and around PHP14 billion “duplicative expenditure items” under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Lacson noted that the NGP has been allocated more than PHP33 billion for the past eight years – including more than PHP5 billion for 2020 – and yet “we don’t see any greens in spite of the continuous appropriation.”
“It is much better if we prioritize the national ID system, which is much more worthwhile than the NGP whose output we have yet to see,” he said.
On the other hand, Lacson said there are infrastructure projects under the DPWH that are duplicitous in nature.
“Sa ngayon, napakababa ng disbursement ng DPWH, kasi nga wala masyado consultation. Ito ‘yung nasisingit ng mga legislators na walang consultation sa ahensiya so di nila nai-implement nang maayos (Right now, DPWH disbursement is too low because of lack of consultation. These are the insertions of legislators that were not consulted with the agency, so these could not be properly implemented),” he said.
“So maraming pwedeng pagkunan kung gusto natin matugunan. Sa pagbawas sa corruption, pati tax collection, sa lahat na transaction sa government at private institution, malaking bagay na meron tayong national ID system,” Lacson said.
(So there many sources of funds if we want to plug the gap. In the fight against corruption, in tax collection as well as in all transactions with government and private institutions, having a national ID system would be a big help). (PNA)