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TP questions P1.6B budget for 22 House Deputy Speakers, accuses Speaker Cayetano of political accommodations for his 2022 presidential ambition?

RJ Nieto aka Thinking Pinoy (TP) has questioned the wisdom of 22 Deputy Speakers under the House leadership of Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano in his latest Facebook post.

Thinking Pinoy or TP for short was reacting to the GMA News article wherein the House of Representatives is reportedly seeking to augment its proposed P14B budget for 2020 by P1.6B.

TP wrote that even Cavite Representative Bambol Tolentino, House Accounts Committee chair did not expect there will be additional vice chairpersons on [House Committees] on Appropriations and Ways and Means; we did not expect either that there will be newly created committees.

I can only imagined TP shaking his head while contemplating the Lower House having 22 Deputy Speakers when even it survived having JUST ONE deputy speaker from the end of World War II to 1995.

TP couldn’t think of any reason for 22 Deputy Speakers in the House of Representatives other than political accommodations, accusing Cayetano of buying alliances for the 2022 elections.

TP reckoned there are more deputy speakers than the maximum of number of days that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano can be absent in a month. Go figure what’s the need for 22 Deputy Speakers when House Sessions happen only thrice weekly (Mon-Tues-Wed), so there are NO MORE THAN 15 SESSION DAYS A MONTH?

TP remarked there wouldn’t be angry reactions from the public if the 22 additional House Speakers do not cost P1.6B to the taxpayers’ money.

TP argued that one P1.6B can build 1450 classrooms at a costs P1.1 million [http://bit.ly/31RU01f]. At 50 students per classroom, that means over 70,000 public school children will have a decent place to learn.

TP mentioned other examples where that P1.6B can be used to benefit the public other than loyalty of the 22 rich Congressmen like hiring 1300 doctors to serve the public. Or purchase polio vaccines to IMMUNIZE ALMOST HALF OF THE ENTIRE PHILIPPINE POPULATION.

You may read the Thinking Pinoy’s original article below.

ANALYZING THE P1.6 BILLION ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR 22 DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Earlier today, GMA News reported that the House of Representatives of the Philippines seeks “to augment its proposed P14 billion budget for 2020 by P1.6 billion” [http://bit.ly/31FJIRu].

House Accounts Committee chair and Cavite Rep. Bambol Tolentino said:

“We did not expect that there will be additional Deputy Speaker; we did not expect that there will be additional vice chairpersons on [House Committees] on Appropriations and Ways and Means; we did not expect either that there will be newly created committees… There are a lot of increase in the expenses for 2020 for equipment, new offices for additional deputy speakers, and a lot of expenses really,”

Judging from Tolentino’s statement, the P1.6 billion is meant for:

1. Funding for the 22 deputy speakers
2. Funding for newly-created committees
3. Funding for new vice-chairmanships

Oh dear!

WHY THE NEED FOR SO MANY DEPUTY SPEAKERS?

There are 22 deputy speakers right now. There were 14 in the last congress, around 4-6 in the Congresses from 1998 to 2016, and JUST ONE deputy speaker from the end of World War II to 1995.

The main job of a deputy speaker is to act as Speaker when the Speaker is absent.

Now, House Sessions happen only thrice weekly (Mon-Tues-Wed), so there are NO MORE THAN 15 SESSION DAYS A MONTH, i.e. there are more deputy speakers than the maximum of number of days that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano can be absent in a month.

Now, I wouldn’t mind if the title was merely for bragging rights, but data shows that each deputy speaker requires funding from THE NATIONAL TREASURY which, in turn, is replenished by THE TAXES WE PAY.

Is this the most efficient use of meagre government resources when most of the previous congresses were able to make do with 6 or even fewer deputy speakers?

For me, six deputies is understandable, but TWENTY-TWO?!

THE ISSUE OF POLITICAL ACCOMMODATIONS

Now, it would not have been an issue even if Cayetano chose to create deputy speakers out of the entire 300-member house… if only that didn’t entail more spending public funds.

There’s no arguing that twenty-two deputy speakers are too many and too expensive, and the only reason behind this that I can think of is Cayetano desperation to get new allies… and if he can’t get new allies through charisma or gravitas, then he might as well buy alliances using public funds.

We all know that former Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is not the most popular leader but she only needed to get 14 deputies, so just how notorious is Cayetano in the House for him to feel the need to get 8 more than SGMA?

THE NATIONAL TREASURY

The country has been calling for salary increases for public school teachers and government nurses, new classrooms, better healthcare, speedier court trials, better social services, and whatnot, but we can’t fund them all because we are not a rich country.

However, instead of more efficiently allocating government funds, what we see is a House Speaker who would rather spend P1.6 billion on political accommodations than on, say, additional funding for polio vaccines or the building of new classrooms that the nation badly needs.

Let’s put it this way: the Speaker Arroyo-led House was able to pass pretty much all of President Rody Duterte‘s legislative priorities with just 14 speakers and, presumably, just P14 billion annual budget, so what exactly changed in Cayetano’s House that warranted an increase in the number of committees, vice-chairmanships, and deputy speakers?

POLITICAL GAIN OVER PUBLIC INTEREST

Just how much is P1.6 billion?

Building a classroom costs P1.1 million [http://bit.ly/31RU01f], so P1.6 billion can buy over 1450 classrooms. At 50 students per classroom, that means over 70,000 public school children will have a decent place to learn.

The median cost of an oral polio vaccine (OPV) dose is $0.22 [http://bit.ly/31J63xt], or about Php 11.47. With three OPV doses per child, we can use the P1.6 billion to IMMUNIZE ALMOST HALF OF THE ENTIRE PHILIPPINE POPULATION.

If it costs P100,000 monthly to hire a government doctor, then P1.6 billion could have allowed us to hire over 1300 more doctors to service poor comunities.

If it costs P18,000 monthly to hire a public school teacher, then P1.6 billion could have allowed us to hire over 7400 more teachers to educate our youth.

The list goes on and on.

Is P1.6 billion in additional funding for political accommodations the best use of government funds? My conscience tells me “no”.

Speaker Cayetano, you are the most vocal critic of then President Arroyo, yet it appears that you are just as horrible — or even worse — than you want to paint her to be.

Your reaction to this?

Source: Thinking Pinoy

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