The spending pattern of the PNoy administration in the first five months of the year reveals what its real priorities are; and it is not what you think.

Ben Diokno in his column for yesterday’s Businessworld analyzes the actual spending pattern of the government under its own budget for the first five months of the year and comes up with a very strange answer to the question that he poses:

Has government spending really improved as claimed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)? The answer is a mixed bag. For public spending that makes a lot of difference in job creation and poverty alleviation such as public works and social welfare, the answer is NO. For other social spending such as education and health there was a slight improvement. And for DPWH, DoH, DA, DSWD, and DoTC, actual public spending from January to May, appropriately measured, was only half of planned spending.

Surprisingly, it was spending for the military and police where actual spending has exceeded programmed spending — DND by almost half, DILG by about 20% (empasis added).

Now given everything that the president has said he would do from the campaign with his Social Contract, to his inaugural, to his first SONA, budget statement, right down to the Philippine Development Plan you could be forgiven for not thinking that the president’s first priority would be the military and police, but that is exactly what his spending pattern has shown.

Indeed, PNoy might have taken the lessons from his mother’s presidency to heart that you neglect the men in uniform at your peril. It is they after all who nearly toppled his mother’s regime several times after they found her to be pandering too much to the progressive movement. Aside from castigating the policy of forced disappearances citing the son of Joe Burgos, Jonas’s case, the president has for the most part stayed clear of any other pronouncements that would be seen as siding with the left.

In fact the president in his brief stint so far has managed to upset different institutions and sectors of our society including the opposition in Congress (that is understandable), the Catholic bishops as a result of the RH debate, labor unions by not vigorously supporting their cause on May Day, and the media (no, sorry the commentariat) by complaining that their coverage of his presidency has been skewed to his personal life.

For the military however the president has reserved the right to partake of the “first fruits” of his reforms to government spending by allocating the additional revenues amounting to close to 30 billion pesos generated by the now streamlined GOCCs to provide military housing and accommodation. This he proudly announced during the Independence Day celebrations.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. Soldiers do put their lives on the line for the country, and it is only fitting that they share in any proceeds of efficiencies generated by any reform. However, it appears that they alone have been singled out in PNoy’s first year to receive the reform dividend.

As highlighted by Diokno, education, agricultural support and social welfare are not picking up. Here’s what Diokno noted

DepEd has performed the best although it continues to spend below its programmed level. DA continues to spend less than half of its programmed budget, though improving. DSWD, contrary to claims that its disbursements has jumped impressively, continues to struggle in spending what Congress has authorized it to spend. The latter is meeting only half of its goals as of May 2011.

Given the start of the school year was in early June, it is dismal for the DepEd to be below its programmed level of spending as of the end of May. And also contrary to the statement by the Palace that the DSWD was on track to spend its allotted budget, the actual data seems to say otherwise. Perhaps Mrs Arroyo was right after all, that the absorptive capacity of this agency was not sufficient to handle the sudden surge. I can already hear her thundering through the chamber with the words, “I told you so.” Followed by an evil laugh MWAHAHAHAHA! AHAHAHAHAHA!

And as far as employment generating public works and infrastructure construction, these were the most badly savaged. Here is what Diokno found

The two infrastructure agencies — DPWH and DOTC — are stuck in their mediocre performance level. Faced with a sharply reduced infrastructure budget, DPWH’s ratio of actual to programmed spending remained unchanged at 0.53. For DOTC, the ratio barely moved, from 0.44 (January to April) to 0.45 (January to May).

…DBM further adds: “The DPWH also attributed the delay in project implementation to the influx of requests for realignments from regional and district offices and other stakeholders even after bidding activities had started, the magnitude of which was estimated to be more than 40% of the line-item projects released.” Incredible!

What happened to zero-based budgeting?

Indeed contrary to the claims by finance and budget officials that they had fast-tracked the release of project funds after the first quarter, the results do not seem to appear two thirds into the second quarter. The current pattern of spending is definitely not programmed, nor does it seem deliberate or intentional on the part of Cabinet. In a word, it means “chaos”.

If I were in charge, I’d be pressing the panic button yesterday!

This is truly appalling, and what it signals is the potential for the government to have significantly underspent its overall allocations by the end of the year given the high season of construction months to have passed it by. As a development planner, I shudder to think what this means for social welfare, investment, employment, livelihood and growth in the last two quarters of the year.

In a fortnight, PNoy’s first year in office will come to an end. There will be many statements released at that point from the Palace about his accomplishments. Unfortunately, if we inspect the financial statements as opposed to the spin doctored ones, we might come to a different conclusion from what they want us to have. If the first fruits of reform have gone solely to the military and police, then it demonstrates which institution the president holds most dear.

This reveals that far from repeating the instability suffered by his mother, PNoy intends to keep a close watch over the guardians of the state. And if that means abandoning the economic and social reform agendas temporarily or waiting for the fruits of reform to “trickle down”, then I guess what he is saying is “so be it.” Somewhere in the big blue yonder, I can hear the ghost of Don “Chino” Roces crying, “Social contract, my ass!”

Doy Santos aka The Cusp

Doy Santos is an international development consultant who shuttles between Australia and the Philippines. He maintains a blog called The Cusp: A discussion of new thinking, new schools of thought and fresh ideas on public policy ( and tweets as @thecusponline. He holds a Master in Development Economics from the University of the Philippines and an MS in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

  • J_ag

    If national income growth is being derived from foreign income of workers and resident investments abroad rather than domestic income which is sluggish at best due to systemic and structural factors, how and what in the world is the basis and substance of the social contract?

    Our so called macro economic fundamentals are imported and our fiscal deficits and trade deficits are chronic all due to the lack of productivity in the domestic economy.

    The Philippines is now totally dependent on foreign inflows and the dictates of the financial markets which the government is subservient to.

    Where is the plan to start to de-link our dependence on foreign inflows to drive growth? 2012 is coming in fast and elections in 2013. Will the caution in project implementation remain in the face of rising demand for projects to fund election spending in 2013?

    It would be interesting to see of Pnoy runs true to form for every trapo in this country.

  • Before the May 2010 elections we were led to believe that we were getting Clark Kent. The mild mannered, socially awkward geek as president. Now it does turn out that we got Bruce Wayne instead, the swinging bachelor with the speedy car cruising the highway to Wayne Manor.

    Instead of superman with his other worldly powers, we got an earth bound mortal hero. Who is his sidekick, the boy blunder? and his batgirl, or Virginia, who according to her tale is helping him fight corruption. Try as they might, they continue to be outwitted by the criminals who keep getting away.

    And who exactly is the “adult in the room” while all of this is happening? I don’t see anyone raising the alarm as the ship of state continues to veer off its course as the budget spending seems to attest?

    • Bert

      Doy, you don’t see anyone raising the alarm because the ship is right on course, but the sea is quite rough and so the faint-hearted are struggling to press the panic button already, ready to abandon ship at the first sign of a wave, :).

    • Bert

      And Doy, those faint-hearted are so ready to jump overboard unto the deep ocean hoping that Aqua-man will be there to save them, hehehehe.

    • I said the ship was beginning to veer off course, I didn’t say it was about to sink. Why should we abandon ship? 🙂

      On the contrary, if we make some corrections now, we can get back on course, right? The panic button however is to alert the crew that are partying on the deck because the ship currently is heading for an iceberg which could sink it if it doesn’t change course.

      As for Aquaman saving us–if that’s our only hope–a guy who talks to fish, then heaven help us! Hehehe.

      • KG

        If aquaman can’t save us then we should keep the faith with the mortal hero with the sidekicks… Bahala na si batman.

        • Bert

          Karl, kaya ako tawa ng tawa kasi akala pala ni Doy noong marinig niyang ipinangako ni Noynoy bago mag election na magkakaroon siya ng malinis na gobierno kapag siya ay nanalo, akala pala ni Doy ay gagamit si Noynoy ng X-ray vision at super-speed para umunlad ang bansa kaagad, iyon bang ala-Clark Kent turning to Superman, basahin mo ang mga salita niya sa taas. Eh, hindi naman totoong mayroong Superman, ayun inip na inip na tuloy ang tao, eh, isang taon pa lang namang nakaupo si Noynoy. Kawawa naman.

          • KG

            Hindi din ako naghahanap ng superman nung binoto ko si Pnoy kung madaming tao ay ganun ang hinahanap maiinip talaga sila.

            Ang palagay ng palasyo ang dahilan ng lower ratings ay ang puro bad news dapat daw ihighlight ang good news. Again, they downplayed the satisfaction ratings dip as expected.

            Maybe Bert they should not just downplay the ratings and do something about it. Sabi mo nga one year pa lang so they are doing it in baby steps.Maybe it will be full speed ahead.Let’s see.

          • UP nn grad

            KG: kaunting kaunti pa lang ang bad news na lumalabas. Bilangin mo ang pangalang mabaho, wala pa sa isang kamay.

            Ang bango pa rin ng pangalang Aquino — wala pang kuwento-kuwento na nagpapayaman si Noynoy.

            Ang ibig kong sabihin, hindi asar ang publiko kung hindi naiinip. Mabagal ang asenso ng bansa.

          • UP nn grad

            Doy: Pabor siguro kay Noynoy na wala siyang “significant-other”. Walang mga balae na nangungurakot, walang ka-klasmeyt ni “first gentleman” o ni “first lady” na na sasangkot sa graft.

            Pero ang problema (sa palagay ko) sa Pilipinas ay ang bagal ng development, tapos binagalan pa ang pag-pondo ng rural infrastructure at rural school buildings. Saan mangga galling ang jobs-creation?

          • UP nn grad

            One of Presi-Noynoy’s accomplishments for his 1styear is this K-12. This is good, but the job creation is way down the road. What I mean is : Having better-prepared grades 1 and 2 is good, but I wish Malacanang had spent as much money/put as much focus in improving the job prospects of the current batch of high-school students so they are more employable next year or the year later.

          • KG

            Ok then, Up.Point well taken.

          • UP nn grad

            And not to be taken lightly — the stink from the BFF’s around him is not sticking on Noynoy because there are no stories yet of moneymaking shenanigans by Noynoy (nor his sisters).

            Torres and the thuggish raid “for the greater glory of one’s bank account” stinks to high heavens // that’s Torres’ stink and no one would even think Noynoy-or-sister would take a percent-here or there of that.

          • KG


        • Bert, kung babasahin mo yung mga sinulat ko noong panahon ng kampanya, hindi ako umasa na maisasakatuparan ni Noy ang minimithi ng marami. Nagbigay pa nga ako ng babala na dahil sa sobrang paglobo ng paningin natin sa kakayahan ni Noy marahil maraming mawawalan ng pag-asa pagbalik lupa ng ating pananaw pagnaglaho ang agos ng emosyon ng kampanya.

          Kaya ko nga sinasasabi ngayon, na napapanganib ang agenda ng gobyerno dahil nga sa impresyon na ibinigay nila noong kampanya.

      • UP nn grad

        bert is of that psychology — “Tay, gutom pa rin ako.” “Huy… huwag kang maingay, maganda ang takbo ng barko. Angal ka ng angal.”

        “Tay, bakit wala pa ring eskuwelahan duon libis, eh bakit iba ang inuna?” “Huy… ano ka ba, maganda ang takbo ng barko, ngawa ka ng ngawa. Bawal ang pintas, kaibigan natin ang nasa itaas ngayon kaya bawal ang pintas.”

        • KG

          Saang Libis? Ang alam kong libis ay business/financial center na ngayon.

          Hey Up you had your turn, ang tawag mo pa nga sa iba ng opinion sa iyo ay surge the gates wachamacolit or is that what you call the masa back then?

          Dati lagi din kitang pinapansin ang sagot mo: hey different strokes for different folks.
          and that btw is what Doy calls horses for courses.

  • Bert

    “Bert — what do you think? You will probably say (this is my guess….) you will probably say “Maliit na bagay lang iyan.” Ang bantayan, iyong mas malaking breaking-the-law.” At saka hindi naman na-aapekto ang popularity-SWS surveys, maliit na bagay lang iyan. Tama ba hula ko sa kung ano ang sasabihin mo?”-UP n

    Hindi, maling-mali ang hula mo, UP n.

    Any citizen who breaks the law should be subjected to the full force of the law, and that include all, meaning all as in all, including and specially the president of the Philippines, all politicians, and all government officials, all supreme court justices, all military and police generals…ALL.

    Now, if you say that President Noynoy has done something illegal like over-speeding and illegal diversion/shifting of Congress-allocated money I would be very glad to see you file a case to investigate those illegal acts by the president, not that I am resorting to that “sue me in court” gimmick by Miky Arroyo and his mother, but I really will be glad to see your Guuulor-Yaaa, or Lito Lapid, or Edcel Lagman, or Joker, to have those illegal acts investigated and will be glad as well how Guuuulor-Yaaa’s CJ of the SC will decide on those cases.

    UP n, you are trying to paint for us a dirty president which is not bad at all but Bishop Pueblos has proven to us that dirt is not what it seems to be when he can’t even see a dirty president when he has seen one.

    • UP nn grad

      Don’t be silly by asking me to file the charges, bert, ano ka ba?

      I also think it is silly to ask Edcel Lagman or any senator or congressman to do the investigation. Reason — Congress is for laws and for the budget. Responsibility for chasing down lawbreakers — Executive Department.

      • Bert

        Well, in that case an investigation in aid of legislation will do just as long as it will make you UP n and Doy happy seeing your president’s popularity ratings plunge some and Guuulor-Yaaa, Edcel, Joker and Lito Lapid happy also.

      • You can hardly say that this is an opposition instigated plot, Bert. This is more like the administration shooting itself in the foot or scoring an own goal for the opposition.

        • Bert

          You have to remember, Doy, that UP n was seeing an imaginary over-speeding and an imaginary illegal shifting of fund and I don’t know whether it’s a shooting or a game he was seeing but one thing is clear and that is that he don’t want to swear as to the veracity of what he saw and so we can’t really tell if the administration’s foot was shot or if there was really a game going on, in which case there is an actual need for an investigation in aid of legislation to be initiated by who else but the opposition to shed light as to what UP n was actually imagining, right?

          • UP nn grad

            I don’t think an investigation into regularly breaking the speed llimit is needed. The reason — hindi naman impeachable ang regularly breaking the speed limit, eh.

            I think what is needed — the regular breaking of the speed limit should stop.

            Bert — four times in my life, I’ve clocked over 110 mph. One out of those 4 times, I was too slow in making a course adjustment and I saw me and my BMW, wala na sa kalye. One-out-of four for near-fatal accident, ang taas nuon!!!

            Kahihiya naman kung maospital ang isang tao dahil palaro-laro lang sa kotse, lalo na after 40, ang bilis ng pag-bagal ng reaction time.

          • UP nn grad

            Remember…. next in line to Presidente Noynoy is Vice-Pres Binay… it is Yellow-Army interest to get the word to Malacanang that unnecessary personal risk-taking by people of Malacanang — pang mga bente-cuatrong edad lang iyon, hindi iyon cool.

          • UP nn grad

            and bert: what law would you want Congress to work on — to increase the penalty for breaking the speed llimit — katatawa naman, hindi ba?

            Maski si Presi-Noynoy noong noon pa, ang sabi niya, it is the enforcement of the law that Pilipinas needs, ano ka ba naman, hindi mo ba alam ang mga sinabi ni candidate Noynoy nuong kampanya? Sobra na raw rami ng mga laws sa Pilipinas, new laws hindi kailangan —- ang kailangan ay enforcement. Ibig sabihin, Executive Department .

  • UP nn grad

    “Congress is given The Power Over The Purse” as a counterweight to the powers of the Executive Department.

    This is my opinion, but I believe Malacanang oversteps if Malacanang takes SHIFTS MONEY FROM CONGRESS-PROJECTS TO Malacanang pet projects. I believe Malacanang oversteps if it takes money away from Congress-mandated projects (e.g. farm-to-market roads or school construction) and then use the money for a new presidential Lexus or for a Sports complex at Camp John Hay.

    ManuB… what do you know of Pilipinas Constitution?

    • UP nn grad

      I don’t even think presi-Marcos did that — take money for a highways project to build the Cultural Center-Pilipinas. I believe the president can delay a project ( something GMA and FVR did — also Cory ) especially when there is no money (like for monthly-allowance for Pilipinas elderly), but shellgame moving money around is, in my opinion, not allowed.

      Would gabbyD or raggster know the answer to this question?

      • UP nn grad

        I am tracking “breaking the law”. Bigtime-breaking the law / (Speeding super-fast late at night, I am sure, is against the law —- but that is small potatoes wang-wang piddly stuff, I mean what is one a president for, right?

        And Presi-Noynoy doing something questionable but still legal is not my question…

        my question is if shellgame moving money around is against the Constitution.

        • UP nn grad


          Is the president allowed to break a law?

          You know —- speeding. Is he allowed to break this law so he can unwind and relax?

          I actually do not think so, but this is my opinion. And I think he is continuing to perpetuate this “…. different rules for those op top.” — again : my opinion.

          Bert — what do you think? You will probably say (this is my guess….) you will probably say “Maliit na bagay lang iyan.” Ang bantayan, iyong mas malaking breaking-the-law.” At saka hindi naman na-aapekto ang popularity-SWS surveys, maliit na bagay lang iyan. Tama ba hula ko sa kung ano ang sasabihin mo?

    • GabbyD

      what are you talking about? what diversion did he do?

      • UP nn grad

        I don’t think USA nor Australia procedures would allow it.

        Now for Pilipinas — I don’t really know — i suppose for Pilipinas and its constitution, there are cases when the president is allowed to shift budget-money from one project to another project allowed.

        • GabbyD

          what has he supposedly done?

          are you just making random innuendoes?

          • UP nn grad

            hah ha hhah …. I can hear it coming…. “conspirator!!!!”

            But I just realized this question is not for you to worry about nor for cocoy to worry about and not even for Butuan bishop to worry about.

            The owner of the question should be — CONGRESS. If congress ain’t worried, then nobody else should be worried.

            NOW the other question? Should people ignore the stories that the President every so often during a month would — intentionally — break the speed llimit on metro-Manila roads? This is presidential prerogative in Pilipinas, I think.

          • UP nn grad

            BUT… but I don’t think it is allowed by GAAP.

            If a twenty-thou savings is booked onto Project-A, that savings stays with project-A. It takes paperwork and justification before that particular twenty-thou is allowed to be put onto the chart-of-accounts for Project-B.

            Now if there is a budget-cap for project-B (cap — as in maximum-allowed spending) then finding a twenty-thou in Project-A does not mean that the projecvt-cap for Project-B is automatically lifted.

            BongBong or Mar would know how to approach this question — MBA’s. Definitely, a Sycip-Gorres-dude or Duddette (versus deQuiros and other columnists) would not know the answer.

          • UP nn grad

            Heidi (I forgot her last name) would know how to chase the Pilipinas rules that address the question, I am sure.

          • UP nn grad

            GabbyD: if you are really interested, you may try obtaining a used copy of a Roberts Anthony Accounting book…. you’ll find relevant items in there that should be helpful.

        • GabbyD

          omg. note that in the three comments that followed, you never actually said what he supposedly did.

          geez. sige. keep talking.

          • UP nn grad

            Let us start with some thing easy — something that I am guessing is within the comprehension of a 1st-year high school student. (Moving money around — that takes a bit more than just having a high school diploma)

            So — gabbyD, chew on this one — Is it flouting the law to repeatedly break the speed limit on metro-Manila streets? Is a son of a former president special enough that “…talagang ganiyan, pabayaan mo na!” is the response whe a son of a former president does the vvRRRROOOOooooMMMM–vvvrrrOOOOOMMMmmm??

            Can a current cabinet member be so special that the cabinet member is allowed vvRRRROoooooOOOOMMMM-vvvRRRRMMMM??

            Can the sitting president be so special that he should be allowed to do this?

            What cha think, gabbyD?

            In my opinion, I don’t think anyone —- not even the Pope much less BongBong, Noynoy, Mikey Arroyo, GullooLLLrrYYAAA nor JinggGGooy — none of them, in my opinion, hould be allowed to do this…. that’s my opinion, gabbyD. Whatcha think?

            Is it abuse of power when the sitting president repeatedly flouts a law?

            I don’t think speeding-every-night vvRRROOooooMMM-vvRRRroooMMM is an impeachable offense, but dang… this is is not cool, not in my opinion.

            What-cha think, mister GabbyD?

          • KG

            Ok no one should violate traffic rules
            with or with out wang wang.

            no one should realign the budget even if it means more savings

            no one should do this no one should do that.

            did I get your drift?

          • KG

            Looking at Your (Upnn Grad’s) exchanges with Bert.
            I too once commented on the unnecesary risk of Pnoy leaving his PSG behind but I have no proof that he really does this so I would put it hypothetically. Sa opinion columnist ko lang nabasa kaya unless maniwala ako sa lahat ng anonymous insider info, I would not take vrooom vroooom so seriously. But i would stay it would be an unneccessary risk if it is a habit of PNOY to vrooom vrooom. I can relate to the vehicular accident example of UP I have scars and nerve damage as remembrance.

            So I would take the opinion of up as a sort of unsolicited advice to PNoy.Hanggang unsolicited lang naman ang mga comment natin dito eh.

  • KG

    If there is something that has to be reversed is the practice of promoting every colonels to generals then allow them to collect stars along the way.

    Before it is already ok to be a colonel or even just a one star general.

    Who ever started the game of the generals I don’t care,but with a lot of retired generals who enjoys the same pay(pensions) as active personnel and the fact that is has to be appropriated by congress, One day it will just explode into a problem.
    Recto and Drilon mentioned this many times but what are they going to do about it?

  • KG

    So are you saying that whatever will be said in the SONA would be hogwash?

    • Did you ask that question in a rhetorical sense?

      Well, it certainly means that anything that is said from now on has to be subjected to a greater level of scrutiny. This administration loves to talk of its reforms in the past tense–as if they have already accomplished them–when in fact most of them are policies that have yet to be implemented.

      • KG

        pwede na din sanang rhetorical , but thank you for replying.

  • UP nn grad

    No need for Presi-Noy to press the panic button. Someone asks about “…moving funds away from education- high school, elemen school buildings to soldier housing”, Presi-Noy still is able to keep the press occupied by mentioning asking aloud “…why are these people asking about my porsche? and why do they care about my dating?”

    • UP nn grad

      Of course, even Marcos would say that that move —- pushing money into the PNP and military — is great long-term strategy.

      • UP nn grad

        Marcos would say, and even Cory would say…. “buying the loyalty of PNP and military”.

        • manuelbuencamino

          Psst UP, you are talking to yourself…posting a comment, replying to your comment, and replying to your reply. Ayaw ka na bang kausapin ni benigno?

          • UP nn grad

            I’m in an internet-cafe, manuB. internet connection keeps crapping out.

          • UP nn grad

            got cut again… but did you say you disagreed with “…buying the loyalty of PNP and military” as good strategy?