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Duterte SoNA promises must be funded – Recto

The proposed 2017 national budget Malacañang will submit to Congress should reflect the promises President Duterte made during his first State-of-the-Nation Address last Monday, Senate Minority Leader Ralph G. Recto said yesterday.

Recto said Palace officials should ensure the President’s promises are reflected in the budget because without funding, “they would remain as empty pledges.”

The 2017 national budget, with a reported tentative funding level of P3.35 trillion, is expected to be submitted to Congress on August 15.

For instance, Recto said, the “no demolition without relocation” Duterte had earlier promised would remain a good slogan unless more funds are allocated for housing.

“Rhetoric must be translated to reality and the way to do it is through general appropriations. Promises are given in the SoNA and are redeemed in the budget,” Recto said.

“A SoNA is a major assumption of the budget. The one for next year must allocate funds that will carry out what he promised the people last Monday,” he said.

He said Cabinet members ought to check if the items the President mentioned during his speech is given priority in the proposed budget of their agencies.

And though not all programs the Chief Executive highlighted in his maiden SoNA may require funding, these must be properly itemized.

Recto said one major example was Duterte’s promise to help Filipinos in distress abroad.

He said that based on the 2016 General Appropriations Act, the Department of Foreign Affair’s Assistance to Nationals Fund and Legal Assistance Fund is P400 million and P100 million, respectively, while the Department of Labor and Employment has a P50-million Emergency Repatriation Program lodged in the Labor Secretary’s office to bring home Filipinos caught in difficult circumstances abroad. (Hannah L. Torregoza)