MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo said Monday she recognizes the need for anti-communist insurgency campaigns, but its budget must be evaluated in light of other urgent matters.
Robredo, a former lawmaker, said that in the wake of the recent typhoons and the COVID-19 pandemic, there might be a need to reassess the government's anti-insurgency budget.
"I recognize the importance, pero sa’kin, it should be assessed not in itself but relative to all the other budgets. Ano ba 'yung pinaka-kinakailangan now? Terrorism is a problem. Pero 'yun 'yung tanong ko," she told ANC's Headstart.
(I recognize the importance, but for me, it should be assessed not in itself but relative to all the other budgets. What is most needed now? Terrorism is a problem. But that's my question.)
"It’s ok to invest in that, pero parati siyang relative to other items na as necessary. So, parating ang tanong is, ito yung budget for anti-terrorism or anti-insurgency, how much are we investing in health? How much are we investing in education? How much are we investing in environmental protection? Kasi kung itong tatlo, sobrang liit niya in comparison to what we are setting aside for anti-insurgency, baka kailangang balikan ulit, given na yung panahon natin dictates na we should give more priority to more urgent needs now," she said.
(It's ok to invest in that, but it always has to be relative to other items that are necessary. So the question is always, if this is the budget for anti-terrorism or anti-insurgency, how much are we investing in health? How much are we investing in education? How much are we investing in environmental protection? Because if the budget for these 3 are much smaller than what we are setting aside for anti-insurgency, there might be a need to review it, given that our times dictate that we should give more priority to more urgent needs.)
Congress has earmarked P19 billion from the proposed P4.5-trillion 2021 budget for the government's campaign against communist insurgency.
For Robredo, whose own office is allotted P679.73 million, the budget should be more aligned towards "disaster-proofing" the country, which she said has long been neglected.
"Over the years, parang hindi siya masyadong binibigyan ng concern. Nabibigyan lang s'ya ng concern every time merong nangyayaring ganito. Pero pag humuhupa, parang wala na ulit sa awareness ng marami. Dapat seryosohin ng marami," she said.
(Over the years, it's not given much concern. It is only given concern every time something like the current calamities happen. But when the situation improves, the concern is no longer in the awareness of many. This should be considered seriously.)
She also wants more budget for the COVID-19 vaccine, which apart from the procurement, should also take into consideration the storage and distribution costs.
The Philippines may start to rollout the vaccination program by May next year, according to Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the national plan against the pandemic.
The Philippines has recorded a total of 409,574 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Monday, of which, 27,369 are active infections.
Total recoveries stood at 374,366, while the death toll is 7,839.