Lawmakers uncover P30 million for charter change under DILG's 2023 budget

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2022 04:45 PM

MANILA — The proposed 2023 national budget includes P30 million for charter change under the Department of the Interior and Local Government, opposition lawmakers revealed on Tuesday. 

Lines of questioning by Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro uncovered the allocation during the plenary deliberations for the 2023 budget of the DILG. 

Brosas asked about the status of the 2022 budget for the charter change item, which led to the revelation that its funding would be renewed in the 2023 appropriations. 

She then sought clarity on this item as she cited Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile's fresh push for a return to the 1935 Constitution.

"At the moment what the DILG would do is to have consultations, particularly on devolution and constitutional reforms," said Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma, who spoke for the agency as sponsor of its budget. 
 
But Castro noted that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had yet to say whether or not he would push for revisions to the 1987 Charter. 

"Ang pagkaalam ko po not on the charter change but it is more on the decentralization and constitutional reform for advocacy campaign," Cuaresma replied.

(From what I know, it is not on the charter change, but it is more on the decentralization and constitutional reform for advocacy campaign.) 

Castro questioned why efforts to change the charter should be funded despite the absence of a constitutional reform policy. Instead, she and Brosas both wanted the money realigned to cash assistance in various forms. 

"Thirty million pesos din ito kung pupuwedeng idagdag na lang natin ito sa direktang educational cash assistance sa ating mag-aaral sa halip na gamitin po for mga pagpupulong-pulong, caravan, etc. Baka masayang lang ito sa ganun," Brosas said.

(That is P30 million, we can reallocate that to fund the student cash assistance program instead of funding caravans and meetings in which the money could be just wasted.)

The Makabayan bloc lawmakers also flagged the poor utilization of the allocation in 2022 after Cuaresma revealed that there's still some P22 million left for this year.

But Cuaresma said that a huge chunk of the budget was still unused because procurements did not push through.

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