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April 11, 2017


What is the Budget Secretary’s opinion on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP? Our guest today at “Kasangga Mo Ang Langit” is Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno. This is heard live, 10am on DZRJ 810khz, 8 TriMedia Network.

They say that the crisis at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals started due to unpaid overtime work. They claim that this is the reason why at least 30 immigration officers resigned. Some filed vacation leaves. During our conversation with Atty. Antonette Mangrobang, she admitted that the 30 immigration offers resigned last January and it wasn’t a mass resignation, as reported in the news. Also, the leave of absences wasn’t all filed at the same time – it’s just they had “sick calls” every day from the personnel. At least 17 – 20 people were absent every day since Sunday. These are the people who were supposed to man the immigration counters to process passenger travel documents. Because of this, processing of papers took 5 hours.

Personnel from Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) and supervisors ended up manning the empty BI counters. This poses a problem especially during Holy Week when traveling peaks. According to Sec. Ben Diokno, this started when the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago became the BI Commissioner. She created a fast lane to address the different transactions going on. Now they eliminated the ‘regular’ lane and everything is ‘express’. In the government you can charge overtime, as long as it doesn’t exceed 50% of your pay. In other words, if you are getting a salary of Php 10,000 a month, you can’t have an overtime pay five times that.

It was because of this that the DBM had to create additional positions to address the issue of overtime. It normally creates 2 months to create positions for the government – Sec. Ben Diokno was able to finish creating 936 new positions in a week. If these positions are not enough, DBM will review the system and add more if necessary. After all, they are trying to replace an illegal, corrupt and opaque system with a legal, clean and transparent one.

“Sa mga na-create na position,” he said, “halimbawa sa Chief Immigration officer na ang kanyang monthly salary ay P64,660. plus . kung ia-allow halimbawa ang 50% na overtime, 32,000. ang makukuha niya ay P96,900. Hindi na masama yun diba? Ang immigration officer 3 na P30,000. ang suweldo plus overtime magiging P45,000. ang take home pay mo, masama pa ba yon? Sa overtime na computed sa 250% na mula sa monthly Pay ng mga immigration employees, ang Gobierno ay gumagastos ng Billion taon taon, kung iyahambing sa bagong sistema, na may 936 newly created positions na aabutin lang ng P381Million ang gagastusin ng Gobierno. Sa ngayon ay balak ng Department of Budget and Management ng Financial Audit mula sa COA kung magkano talaga ang nakokolekta ng Bureau at saan napupunta ang Pera.”

The BI gets at least 900 Million pesos from the Express Lane fees, that is used to pay for overtime. There is no truth to the fact that DBM is withholding overtime pay. In fact these people were told to make a request for overtime. Until now, no request has been made.

As for filing a leave of absence during Holy Week, he only had this to say, “Alam mo if you’re in Public Service you should not do anything that will cause inconvenience hindi ba? Kaya ka nga nasa Public Service. Eh yon ginagawa nila na nagle-leave sila kapag panahon na kailangan na mag serbisyo sila that’s dereliction of duty, puwedi silang ma fire out dyan. Natatandaan mo noong panahon ni Reagan na yung Air Controller nag strike to put pressure on the Government, na fire out ang lahat at pinalitan agad ang mga ito ng third party. Baka mangyari yan sa kanila.”

The conversation shifted to the Disbursement Acceleration Program oR DAP. The secretary believes that the justice system was being very selective. After all, who got jailed? Former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla out of a very long list of people who took advantage of it. We know who they are because it has been made public. Imagine – some local officials could be jailed for malversion of funds for thousands of pesos. The list shows billions, yet only two were jailed.

On DILG Secretary Sueno’s dismissal, the President asked several direct questions at the start of the meeting. “He was trying to look for the right answers, siguro parang prosecutor, Fiscal kasi dati yun si Mayor diba?” the secretary stated. “Series of questions and then sumagot naman si Secretary Sueno, and then nagkaroon na kami ng Cabinet meeting. And then before the end of the Cabinet meeting the President said he is firing the secretary. In fairness noh, to both parties. Ganoon naman ang President, in fact when we discussed an issue he gives all the parties involved a chance to voice your position, left or right, whatever and then he makes some judgment. Among others, in addition I assume he has more informations than what he saw sa complaint mismo. Maingat naman si Presidente sa ganyan.”

One of the things that makes this president difference is his decisiveness. Unlike in the past administration wherein failing officials still get to keep their positions despite losses, this president values competence and will not tolerate corruption.

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