MANILA, Philippines — Deputy Speaker Isidro Ungab has dismissed as “baseless” allegations that deficient pension and gratuity funds for uniformed personnel was due to slashes in the 2020 national budget.
Ungab, who previously served as chair of the committee on appropriations in the House of Representatives, was responding to the remarks made by current appropriations panel head Eric Yap that the P74 billion cuts in the 2020 budget were the reason for the inadequate pension fund.
“The accusation therefore of Congressman Eric Yap that the supposed fund deficiency in the pension and gratuity fund budget was brought on by the P74 billion 2020 budget cut is actually baseless, again baseless, as the same is disputed by the cited report by the Department of Management (DBM),” Ungab said in his speech on Monday.
Ungab explained that both the House and the Senate were responsible for the P74 billion budget cuts made in the 2020 budget under the pension and gratuity funds.
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However, Ungab said he and Senate finance committee chairperson Sonny Angara included in the unprogrammed appropriations a line item for the pension and gratuity fund amounting to P21.336 billion “to provide a safety net to the slashed 2020 pension and gratuity fund.”
Moreover, Ungab also cited data from the Department of Budget and Management which states that as of November 30, 2020, there is still an available balance of roughly P711 million for the pension and gratuity fund.
“It is thus clear, based on this DBM data that there were no adjustments or augmentations made on the pension, and gratuity fund as of November 30, 2020,” Ungab said.
“This, in fact, shows that there was no need for a special budget or supplemental budget for a pension and gratuity fund last year. And, if ever, additional appropriations were needed, the DBM would have requested Congress as early as June of 2020, or towards the end of the last quarter of December 2020,” he added.
Don’t use 2020 budget as excuse
Given this data, Ungab said Yap should not use the 2020 budget as an “excuse” for the issues being hurled against the 2021 budget, particularly on the pension and gratuity fund.
“Base sa mga datos na ito, malinaw na malinaw na wala tayong naging problema sa pension and gratutity fund doon sa 2020 budget,” Ungab said.
“Sana po, ito ay maging malinaw din kay Congressman Eric Yap upang pigilan na niya gamiting excuse or palusot ang 2020 pension and gratuity fund budget sa kanyang kinakaharap na issue ukol są 2021 pension and gratuity fund,” he added.
Ungab turned the tables on Yap, saying that it was the latter’s budget cut in the 2021 budget that “gravely affected” the pension and gratuity fund.
“That 20 billion budget of Congressman Eric Yap gravely affected this intended 2018 unsettled payouts,” Ungab said.
“Malinaw po ang numero na nakapaskil sa DBM. Hindi nagsisinungaling ang mga datos na ito. Kaya may panawagan tayo kay Congressman Eric Yap, being the chairman of a very sensitive committee, bago ka tumindig sa podium at magsalita, siguraduhin mong may basehan ka sa bawat sasabihin mo,” he added.
INQUIRER.net reached out to Yap for a comment on the issue but has yet to receive a reply as of posting time.
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