Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday scored Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia for saying the “political noise” could put at risk our projected economic growth.
Speaking during the Development Budget Coordination Committee briefing on the proposed 2018 budget in the Senate finance committee budget hearing, Pernia said a possible “rising political noise” is one of the “risks and uncertainties” that could affect the country’s economic growth.
Drilon, vice president of the former ruling Liberal Party, asked Pernia what he meant by political noise. Pernia said it was just a general statement and the political noise could also come from any sector of society.
“Political noise is really a general expression. It can be from any sector of the society like labor. Protests, for example...Demonstrations,” said Pernia.
Pernia also answered “yes” when Drilon asked him if he considers political noise criticisms to the Duterte administration.
“My goodness gracious, so you’re saying that this is a risk to growth?” Drilon blurted out as he questioned Pernia why such actions are regarded as risks to the country’s growth. Pernia replied it would lead to disunity.”
“So we cannot criticize because we will be considered as causing disunity to the nation? So we cannot criticize [the administration] because we will be considered as causing disunity to the nation?” the member of the opposition bloc asked.
Pernia answered: “Well, ideally, we should all be united, right? To achieve our common goal.”
Drilon said he would not tolerate the “impression” Pernia was trying to create.
“I just want to point that out because it's the second time I heard you say something along these lines. We will not tolerate this, Secretary Pernia. We will always correct this impression that you're trying to create,” said Drilon.
Pernia then told the senator that it was not his intention. But Drilon warned him and said the secretary should watch his words as a member of the Cabinet.
“Be careful with your language. You are a Cabinet secretary. Your statement reflects the sentiment of the administration insofar as planning is concerned. And to say risk includes political noise, that is very disturbing of the trend of your thinking,” the senator said.
Pernia then said the political noise could also come from the "international community. But Drilon said it could also come from criticisms of the administration.
“I take exception to that. I strongly suggest that should not be repeated,” said the opposition senator.
Meanwhile, Senator Loren Legarda said her committee has formally started its review of the proposed P3.767-trillion budget for next year, which the administration has dubbed as “A Budget that Reforms and Transforms.”
“The national budget is the financial blueprint of a nation’s course towards economic development and progress. A prudent and judicious national budget will steadily steer our path closer to our development goals in this millennial age. This is what we will ensure as we review the proposed 2018 national budget,” said Legarda.
In President Rodrigo Duterte’s budget message, he stressed that his administration is driven towards good governance and inclusive development, explaining that the country needs a “more activist Budget to fulfill the longing of our people—not just for reports of economic growth and progress, but for the actual, personal experience of these gains in terms of a better life for all Filipinos—in peaceful and safer communities, with enhanced opportunities for advancement, and supported by convenient, reliable services from their government. Matatag. Maginhawa. Panatag.”
Legarda said that the Senate Committee on Finance will work closely with the country’s economic managers and all government agencies, and consider the citizens’ concerns as it reviews the budget.
“We will ensure that the national budget for next year will continue to be socially inclusive and pro-people, one that addresses our development needs now without compromising the needs of future Filipinos,” further stated Legarda.