MANILA – Deputy Speaker and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab said House committee on appropriations chair Eric Yap is solely to be blamed for the reported P20-billion budget cut in the gratuity and pension funds of the country’s retired military personnel under the 2021 national budget.
In his privilege speech on Monday, Ungab said Yap admitted the budget cut during his interpellation with Anakalusgan Rep. Mike Defensor last week, and therefore should not drag others into the mess he created.
“You confirmed this, here, in the plenary. So ikaw ang may gawa nito, wag ka na magmali-mali ng pagtuturo. Sarili mo lang ang pwede mo ituro!” said Ungab.
During his interpellation last week with Defensor, Yap reportedly admitted that he did not consult the present House leadership when he realigned the military pension fund, citing lack of time.
“Sa totoo lang po, eto po yung malaking… kaya po ako naku-kwestyon lagi dahil hindi ko po tinanong kay Speaker Velasco kung pwede po bang tanggalin ito. Ako po ay nag desisyon base sa tingin ko kung ano ang makakabuti para sambayanan,” Yap told Defensor during last week’s plenary debates.
“Ngayon po, siguro kung na-bypass ko man si Speaker Velasco, pero I’m sure kaya ko ginawa ‘to para po sa ikabubuti. Dahil kulang na rin po ang oras,” the neophyte ACT-CIS Party-list added.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier has proposed P172.9 billion for the pension and gratuity fund of retired military and other uniform personnel under the submitted 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP) but Congress only approved P152.9 billion.
Ungab stressed that since Yap already accepted responsibility over the slashed fund, the ACT-CIS solon should better not pass the blame on others.
“Last Monday, you have already accepted responsibility for the 2021 PGF budget cut, unequivocally admitting that this was your own making, that you did not consult the Speaker about your decision to cut the pension and gratuity funds by P20 billion,” said Ungab.
Prior to his admission that he bypassed Speaker Lord Allan Velasco over the budget cut, Yap was pointing a finger at Ungab over the supposed deficiency in the gratuity funds. The Davao City solon previously chaired the appropriations panel during the early part of the previous House leadership under Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
According to Yap, the fund deficiency in the gratuity fund was brought on by the P74-billion budget under the 2020 budget during the time of Ungab.
Ungab, a stalwart of Mayor Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) party, said Yap’s accusation is “actually baseless,” as the same is disputed by the cited report of DBM.
Based on the DBM’s press release, it was explained that the real cause of the present deficiency in the military pension fund is due to the unsettled 2018 pension adjustments which were supposedly computed to be paid in its submitted P172.9 Billion 2021 budget—wherein Yap is the already the chair of the appropriations panel.
Furthermore, Ungab said he had actually no hands when the 2020 General Appropriations Act was approved since he was kept in the dark by members of the previous House leadership, particularly Cayetano and former Deputy Speaker for finance Luis Raymond Villafuerte. (CRD)