Housing chief says he 'has done his job' to secure 2021 funding as Drilon scores 'meager' budget

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2020 11:42 AM | Updated as of Oct 22 2020 11:53 AM

Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario during a Senate hearing on September 23, 2020. Albert Calvelo/Senate PRIB

MANILA— Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario said Thursday he has "done his job" for his agency's P3.87-billion proposed 2021 budget after senators grilled him for supposedly not fighting for its original spending plan worth P76 billion.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said Del Rosario's performance during the budget deliberations may discourage lawmakers from backing the agency's bid for an additional P12.55 billion for its "meager" 2021 budget.

"Kami ay nagtataka bakit hindi pinaglaban ng sekretaryo 'yung kanilang budget. Ang sinumite P77 billion. Wala pang 10 percent ang binigay eh," Drilon told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo Thursday.

(We're wondering why the secretary didn't fight for their budget. They submitted P77 billion. They were given not even 10 percent.)

Del Rosario said he has raised before lawmakers his concerns on the spending plan that the Department of Budget and Management approved.

"Sinabi ko pa nga (I even said) the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 has a disconnect with the budgetary requirement being provided by the national government. Sinabi ko na 'yan (I already said that)," he said in a separate Teleradyo interview.

"Ang sabi ng DBM 'ipakita niyo sa'min ang utilization,' that’s what we did… and yet 'yun pa rin ang binigay samin."

(The DBM told us 'present your utilization,' that’s what we did… and yet this was still the budget given to us.)

When asked if he would seek help from President Rodrigo Duterte to increase his agency's budget, Del Rosario said: "I think on my end I have done my job."

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Drilon had on Wednesday reprimanded Del Rosario for allegedly coming to a budget hearing unprepared to answer queries from lawmakers.

"Mukhang hindi niya alam ang budget niya at ilang beses 'yung mga tinatanong ng mga senador ang sumasagot mga senador din," he said Thursday.

(It seems he does not know his budget. Senators asked several questions that they themselves answered.)

Del Rosario said committee chair Sen. Risa Hontiveros allowed the agency's director for planning to present.

"They allowed my director to present. Ang gusto pala niya ako ang magpresent (He wanted me to present). At the end of the hearing I apologized and next time I said I will be the one to do the pitching," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

"Wala naman sa'kin problema 'yun. Di ko alam ba't naging big deal ang issue para kay Sen. Drilon."

(I have no problem with that. I don't know why it became a big deal for Sen. Drilon.)

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The agency, created in 2019, has so far built 39,000 informal and formal housing units as of June, Del Rosario said.

It has a backlog of less than 1 million housing units, Del Rosario added as he claimed the agency achieved 97 percent of its target from 2016 to 2019.

The agency counts among houses it built loans taken by Pag-IBIG Fund members, Del Rosario said.

He added that he would follow senators' suggestions to write to other agencies if the housing department can take their excess funds.

"Kung ibigay sa'kin (If they will give it to us) we are thankful so we can undertake the program," he said.