Third Tour of Duty with DBM
“I’m glad, I’m back!” – Diokno
Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno is pleased to be back at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The last time he headed the Department was in 2001 under the Estrada administration.
Even before his appointment as DBM Secretary in 1998, Diokno already served as DBM Undersecretary for budget operations from 1987 to 1991 under the administration of the late President Corazon C. Aquino. Among the many structural reforms he introduced, directly or indirectly, were: higher allocation for social services, decentralization, privatization, and trade liberalization.
As Chief of the DBM under the Duterte administration, Secretary Diokno plans to put a high premium on the timely implementation of projects. “There’s an economic cost of budget delay so we will not tolerate delays in projects,” Diokno said during the turnover ceremonies held on July 1, 2016 at the DBM Multi-Purpose Hall.
(Speech delivered by Sec. Diokno during the DBM flag ceremony on July 4, 2016.)
My co-workers in government, good morning:
As you know, this is my third tour of duty with the DBM – each one different from the other. The first, during the time of the late President Corazon C. Aquino, we were faced with huge budget deficits, limited resources, and huge debt service.
The second time was during the time of former President Joseph E. Estrada. At that time, we were in the midst of the Asian financial crises. The pressure was for the government to pump prime the economy, and we did. Unfortunately, Pres. Estrada’s term was cut short by an unconstitutional coup that left many of the budget reforms I initiated hanging.
The intervening 15 years – 9 for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 6 for President Benigno S. Aquino — were years of abuses of the President’s budget authority. In three (3) of Pres. Arroyo’s 9 years in office, she operated with a reenacted budget for the entire year. Pres. Aquino, on the other hand, will be long remembered for his unconstitutionally crafted Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
I’m now given the opportunity this time around to complete the reforms that I have started during my truncated second stint. Having seen how fiscally-responsible budget rules were misused by two (2) immediate past Presidents, my goal is to have a Budget Reform Act that will curb the abuses of the President in the exercise of his budget preparation and execution responsibilities.
- The term savings, use of savings, augmentation, reenactment and so forth will be defined clearly, consistent with the Supreme Court decisions on Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and DAP.
- Some features of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act will be incorporated in the Budget Reform Act. This will make the budget and the financial transactions of the Government truly transparent. It is not enough that we upload in the web tons of information on the budget. Citizens should be able to ask relevant information from DBM and we are obligated to respond accordingly.
- The concept and process of budget impoundment will also be clearly defined in the law, consistent with the congressional power of the purse.
- The Budget Reform Act will incorporate all major budget reforms that have been adopted within the Executive Department but, as yet, without Congressional approval.
If enacted, the tighter budget rules will endure, long after President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term is over.
Role of the DBM
We should not lose sight of the DBM’s major role in running the government. The DBM is responsible for preparing the President’s budget proposal to Congress and implementing the same after the General Appropriations Act is passed.
You and I, the men and women of DBM, are responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of agency programs, policies, and procedures, making sure that taxpayers’ monies result in outputs and outcomes that support the priorities of the administration.
You and I are responsible for assessing the competing funding demands among government agencies.
You and I are responsible for setting budget priorities.
You and I are also responsible for overseeing and coordinating the administration’s financial management and procurement.
You and I are responsible for improving public sector management, developing better performance indicators and coordination mechanisms.
Finally, you and I are also responsible for ensuring that legislative proposals affecting government organization, public sector wages, and those with funding implications, are consistent with the president’s budget and with administration policies.
The Immediate Focus: The 2017 Budget
In the next few weeks, our focus will be the preparation of the 2017 President’s budget.
I find no reason why the 2017 budget should be a transition budget.
We will strive to make it President Duterte’s first budget, as it should be. It should already embody his dreams and aspirations for the Filipino people – a budget that will start to fix the country’s poor public infrastructure; a budget that will invest in our young in order to develop them into a strong, competent, and agile work force; a budget that will protect the poor and the underprivileged; a budget that will help modernize agriculture and transform rural communities; and a budget that will develop lagging regions.
As you can see, we have formidable tasks ahead of us. These require hard work and strong cooperation from all of us. So, let’s get back to work with renewed energy and commitment to the common good.