Commission on Information and Communications Technology

10 Palace Offices Abolished

10 Palace Offices Abolished
Aquino’s move saves P304.62 million

By GENALYN KABILING and RIO ROSE RIBAYA
Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — In a display of leadership by example, President Aquino has slashed his own budget to P4.075 billion in 2011 following the abolition of 10 redundant offices under his wing and other cost-cutting measures.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said the proposed outlay of the Office of the President (OP) is P183.9 million lower than this year’s budget in line with the government’s plans to streamline the operations in the executive department.

In a public hearing before the House Committee on Appropriations Thursday morning, Ochoa said that the abolition of 10 locally funded projects (LFPs) will save the government a total of P304.62 million in expenditure budget for 2011.

“Our philosophy is to streamline the operations of the Office of the President so we can cut unnecessary spending and use our resources where they are needed most,” Ochoa explained.

“The President wants to lead by example. He cannot ask other agencies to cut costs if his own office is not prudent in the use of the people’s money,” he added.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Ochoa said the Palace staff reduced the OP budget due to the abolition of 10 LFPs, which duplicated the functions of other agencies.

He said the government could save as much as P304.62 million with the abolition of LFPs attached under the OP – the Mindanao Development Council, Office of the North Luzon Quadrangle Area, Office of External Affairs, Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, Minerals Development Council, Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group, Luzon Urban Beltway Super Region, Bicol River Basin Watershed Management Project, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on New Government Centers.

“Our philosophy is to streamline the operations of the Office of the President so we can cut unnecessary spending and use our resources where they are needed most,” Ochoa said.

But the Executive Secretary assured that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, Presidential Visiting Forces Agreement Commission, Commission on Information and Communications Technology, and the EDSA People Power Commission will be retained.

The newly-established the Philippine Truth Commission, and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office as well as the Commission on Maritime Affairs will be under the Office of the President.

He said the OP likewise cut its maintenance, operating, and other expenses from P2.64 billion in 2010 P2.48 billion in 2011.

The budget for personal services was shrunk to P1.57 billion in 2011 from P1.58 billion this year, despite the release of the second tranche of salary increases for OP employees.

Ochoa said funds for professional services or consultancies were likewise from P390.8 million in 2010 to P238.1 million next year.

The measly budget cut in the OP came amid protests from other government agencies who got significant reductions in their outlay for next year.

The judiciary has also complained the budget cut proposed by the executive branch in its proposed 2011 budget. From P27 billion proposed by the judiciary, the Palace endorsed only P14 billion for next year.

President Aquino has disclosed plans to meet with Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona to iron out the court’s concerns on the budget reductions in 2011