GARIN: CONTINGENT FUNDS ARE USED FOR UNFORESEEN EVENTS
DEPUTY Majority Leader and Iloilo First District Representative Janette Garin said contingent funds are vital as they will be utilized for unforeseen events, such as outbreaks, which do not have an allotted budget under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“’Yung contingent fund is very necessary. Kunyari biglang nagkaroon ng outbreak ng Nipah [virus], ‘yung mga ganyang bagay,” Garin said in an interview with The Source in CNN Philippines on Wednesday.
Garin stressed that contingent funds have been part of the GAA every year, which can cover urgent activities or projects of national government agencies, including new projects.
On the other hand, the lawmaker clarified that an agency may only avail of confidential funds, provided that it will be justified and prove that such is necessary.
“DBM (Department of Budget and Management) will justify that pero kung kunyari ginamit sa iba at hindi pala ginamit ng maayos… then we need to look at COA (Commission on Audit). There’s a point that they can explain, they can rectify kasi hindi naman ‘pag ni-release wala na. There are guidelines, there are safety measures [that should be followed],” the House committee on appropriations vice chairperson said.
Under the Special Provision of GAA 2022, the contingent fund “shall cover the funding requirements of new or urgent activities or projects of national government agencies, GOCCs, and LGUs that need to be implemented or paid during the year.” Meanwhile, confidential funds are lump sum amounts for expenses related to “surveillance activities in civilian government agencies” to support their mandate or operations.
Garin also expressed concern over the increasing number of agencies requesting confidential funds.
“Ang nagiging problema nga na nakikita dito ng karamihan—nakiuso ang iba [sa ‘pag request ng confidential fund]. ‘Yun ang dapat na sugpuin,” Garin pointed out.
DEPUTY Majority Leader and Iloilo First District Representative Janette Garin said that official reports and safety precautions should be issued to prevent Filipinos from acquiring the virus.
The former health secretary said it is not yet time to panic due to NiV. However, she pointed out that the public must be informed about the virus and its symptoms.
“Dapat ay mayroong actual and reliable information to the general public without being an alarmist so hindi po pwedeng takutin ‘yung tao pero dapat alam nila ‘yung totoo at bakit nangyayari ito,” Garin said in an interview with DZBB on Sunday.
The lawmaker also called for immediate collaboration between the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) for aggressive surveillance.
“From Ebola to Zika to MERSCOV to COVID-19 to Nipah. This overemphasizes the need to prioritize Surveillance Centers in each DOH Regional Hospital immediately. Little investment in office and experts can go a long way,” Garin, a doctor, said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Nipah virus is usually transmitted from animals to humans, adding that people can also become infected if they have close contact with an infected animal or its body fluids.
Garin said that the Philippines is not new to NiV as the country had cases in 2014 with documented transmission from fruit bats to horses to humans in which the feeds of horses were contaminated with bat urine and secretions.
“Resilient as we are, we were able to contain it. It was one of my ‘baptism of fire’ when I joined DOH. I have strong faith in our experts, but information from them should be laymanized to the public,” the lawmaker said.
The Deputy Majority Leader advised the public to wash fruits and vegetables, properly cook meat, and do handwashing to be safe from viruses. She also suggested that individuals who experience persistent fever and moderate to severe headache should consult a doctor.
“Washing fruits and vegetables should not be taken for granted. Not only Nipah but other viruses as well. Teach our children the importance of washing fruits and not directly eating them from the trees—frequently handwashing with soap and water. Proper hygiene. These are lifesaving measures. Should Always be remembered, never to be forgotten,” Garin pointed out.
“Fruit bats are part of Philippine ecology. We live with them and ensure we don’t stress them out, but if ever they get sick, we ensure that viruses transmitted to animals and/or humans should have no human-to-human transmission. Persistent fever, especially if accompanied by moderate to severe headache, are red flags,” the Iloilo lawmaker added.
DEPUTY Majority Leader and Iloilo First District Representative Janette Garin stressed that the 20 percent cap on appointing professors in state universities and colleges (SUCs) must be increased to 50 percent or removed to support educators’ professional growth.
During the congressional debates at the plenary level, Garin urged her fellow lawmakers to amend the guidelines of National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 461, particularly on the 20 percent cap.“
In the University of the Philippines (UP) walang limit [ang pagpo-promote ng mga professors]. However, in the other universities, as stipulated in the guidelines of DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and as stated in NBC 461, nagkaroon po ng 20 percent cap,” the House appropriations committee vice chairperson said.“
It is now an opportunity for Congress to have this amended. Either remove or increase the 20 percent to 50 percent, or we can have it similar to UP na walang limit,” Garin pointed out, adding that the provision “demoralizes” the professors.
NBC No. 461 states that “[t]he quota for the rank of Professor shall be adjusted to 20 percent of the total number of faculty positions of each SUC.”
The lawmaker furthered that the cap should not deter the professional growth of qualified professors.
Garin also cited that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will support the amendment of NBC No. 461.
“If we remove the 20 percent [cap], then CHED will also be very happy,” she said.
DEPUTY Majority Leader and Iloilo First District Representative Janette Garin supported the Office of Transportation Security’s (OTS) move to tighten its baggage inspection procedure to prevent theft by screening personnel.
OTS Administrator Ma.O Aplasca said that their office imposed additional guidelines after a baggage screener at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was caught on camera apparently swallowing bills pilfered from a passenger’s bag.
However, Garin pointed out that the OTS should uncover the syndicate behind the illegal acts and not those employees in the lower position.
“It is not enough to file a case against the person who swallowed the money. It is important to uncover the syndicate behind these acts,” Garin stressed.
“Dapat mas managot ang nagpakain ng pera and the directors behind this syndicate,” she added.
The lawmaker noted that the incident seemed a recurring issue, hinting at a potential conspiracy among the employees.
“Obviously, this is not the first time, and is impossible to do alone. Probably, there is a collaboration among employees. Might be the tip of the iceberg,” Garin stressed.
She also urged Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista to have a timetable to unmask the syndicate involved in illegal acts.
HOUSE Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo First District Rep. Janette Garin on Friday urged the government to look into the reasons of the high numbers of children who are being exploited online to earn money.
The statement was made after the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) revealed that the Philippines ranks second in the world on the matters of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC)
“This is alarming. Edukasyon ang dapat ibinibigay sa mga bata at hindi dapat ganito ang nararanasan nila. We need to look into why the Philippines seem to be an easy target,” Garin said on Friday.
The lawmaker stressed that the government must act upon the situation and emphasized that it “should not be reduced to mere data and statistics.”
This is a calling for a whole of nation approach. Awareness is very important to prevent the prevalance of child exploitation and illegal acts,” Garin said.
The House appropriations committee vice chairperson said it is vital to give full support to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to detect and catch the perpetrators of the illegal acts.
Earlier, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy said that they lack necessary tools in order to identify the perpetrators of the crimes.
Garin also expressed her gratitude to House Speaker Martin Romualdez for immediately responding on the issue and for his commitment to fund National Coordinating Center against OSAEM and CSAEM.
DEPUTY Majority Leader and Iloilo First District Representative Janette Garin told the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to prioritize giving scholarships to students instead of using the funds for non-essential expenditures.
During the budget deliberations on Tuesday, Garin urged CHED Chairperson Prospero De Vera III to provide the needs of the students, stressing that more funds must be allocated for the scholarship program.“
There’s a big difference between wants and needs. Maybe eto ‘yung checklist niyo pero mas kailangan siguro ng ating mga kabataan ngayon na mabayaran [ang tuition fees],” the House committee vice chairperson said.
“Bilyon-bilyon ang ginagamit natin dito sa mga paggawa ng guidelines, biyahe, bisita, research kunyari, pang-evaluate ng performance. Do we really need this huge expense?” she added.
Garin further said that CHED may collaborate with other agencies on programs such as the Integration of Natural Green and Renewable Energy towards sustainable schools, citing that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Energy (DOE) have the same projects.
“Ang napapansin lang namin, CHED always says ang daming kailangan ng mga estudyante [but] apparently you are not that keen on directly giving the assistance to our students because we are at a point na ang dami ngayon na hirap na hirap na gumastos ng pang tuition because we are in the midst of challenging times,” the lawmaker pointed out.
In 2023, CHED proposed a total expenditure program of P30.7 billion, with P29.3 billion or 98.5 percent designated for funding scholarships through the Higher Education Development Program (HEDP).
For 2024, the agency’s proposed budget increased to P31 billion; however, there was a slight decrease in the allocation for HEDP, which now stands at P29 billion.
HOUSE Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo First District Representative Janette Garin questioned the hiring of a consultant by the Department of Health (DOH) that was not vetted by the search committee.
Garin urged the agency to follow the hiring process to avoid duplication of the tasks of experts working full time in the DOH.
“Matanong ko lang po, paano po ba siya Secretary [Herbosa] pinipili? And [will it not be a] duplication of expertise of the people within the department?” Garin asked Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa when the House of Representatives deliberated on the DOH budget for next year on Wednesday.
“Isa lang po ito, Secretary [Herbosa], [kung] kukuha tayo ng consultant na hindi naman dumaan sa search committee… Why don’t we instead align with specialty societies if we’re talking about non-communicable diseases. Why don’t we tap the Philippine Society of Cardiologists, why don’t we tap the Philippine College of Physicians?” she added.
Herbosa admitted that the Health department has five consultants.
Garin called on the department to minimize unnecessary expenses and give priority to the hiring of personnel for the medical assistance program rather than the recruitment of high-paying consultants.