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Sotto says P328B unused funds in nat'l budget may cover P640M lost revenues from e-sabong

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 04/05/2022 HANA BORDEY,GMA News
Sotto to NICA: Name the agri smugglers, protectors in next hearing © Vicente Sotto III FB Sotto to NICA: Name the agri smugglers, protectors in next hearing

The estimated P328 billion unused funds from the government's annual national budget could cover the P640 million lost revenues from e-sabong operations, vice presidential candidate and Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Wednesday.

During the Commission on Elections' PILIpinas Forum, Sotto was asked how the government will cover the millions worth of revenues from e-sabong, considering the huge debt of the Philippine government.

In response, Sotto pointed out that the P640 million monthly revenues declared by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation is just a pittance compared to the average unspent government funds from 2010 to 2020 amounting to P328 billion.

He also hinted that the P640 million might not even be the correct figure as there are billions of income from the operations of online sabong, saying “they were not giving us the proper revenue to the government.”

“If you are talking only of P640 million, there is P328 billion a year unused by the national government for the last ten years and we've been crying out loud about this P328 billion. Wala naman kaming magagawa. Lehislatura lang kami kaya namin pinagka-cut 'yung mga hindi naman magagamit but then you know, the national government has been laxed in this particular issue,” Sotto said during the forum.

“There was a time that there was P450 billion e barya po itong P640 million ng e-sabong compared dito sa unused by the national government and kami pa nga ang mag-iimplement nito, really it will boil down to the upliftment of the poor in the country,” he added.

Sotto further noted that the P328 billion excludes the government funds which were “abused” or the money that went to corruption.

“Tamang gamit lang noong P328 billion na ‘yon wala pa d'on ang corruption. Matindi iyong corruption, definitely it will be… of good use. ‘Yung P328 billion unused pa lang 'yon. Eh 'yung abused? Kaya po pati ang utang di kailangan mangutang ng ganyang kalaki. Na-bloat lang nang kaunti dahil sa pandemic at hindi pa rin tama,” he said.

The lawmaker said the government did not need to borrow money if it produces its own vaccines, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies such as syringes, cottons, among others.

“So really, it is a matter of using the budget of the government properly, preparing it properly, iba pa 'yon 'yung preparing it properly and using it properly. Hindi po tayo mababaon nang ganyan–P5 trillion lang ang iniwan ni [late former President] Noy Aquino e. P5 trillion lang ang iniwan na utang. In six years, P12 trillion ang utang natin? Well, your guess is as good as mine kung [bakit] nangyari 'yan,” he said.

On the other hand, Sotto said he and presidential candidate and Senator Panfilo Lacson’s budget reform program is the “silver bullet” in the recovery of Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

“The best is our silver bullet. Ang silver bullet namin is BRAVE stands for Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment…Ang parang gist, ang BRAVE namin kailangan magaling sa baba kung ano ang kinakailangan sa barangay including the help for the MSMEs,” he said.

If the items in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) will come from the local government units and vetted by the barangay, municipal, and provincial development councils, then the needs of each locality will be provided, Sotto explained.

“There is a complete disconnect [between] the national government and the local government. Not only that, we have developed the culture of mendicancy kas iang nangyayari itong mga barangay captain, mga mayor, mmga governor, nanghihingi e. Every year pagdating sa budget [season] nakapila sa amin may dalang mga envelope,” he said.

“Ang laki ng tulong noon sa MSMEs because if there is enough livelihood, there is enough funding in the LGUs hindi po magkakaganyan, and we have the solution to that. If given a chance I can tell you what we can do with the P328 billion that is unused,” he added.

If elected vice president in Eleksyon 2022, Sotto said he would bring his “consensus-builder” type of leadership in the Senate to the Office of the Vice President (OVP).

“I have been a consensus-builder. I am the only Senate president that has been there for four years na hindi nagkaroon ng coup d'etat. Tingnan ninyo 'yung records laging merong hindi magandang attempt but why [am I not replaced]? Because I am a consensus builder,” he said when asked what his distinction is among the previously elected vice presidents of the Philippines.

“Wala pong inaaway lagi kong nilalagay sa lugar whether you are a majority or a minority [member of the Senate] as a matter of fact all the presidential candidates now, the top 4 or top 5 presidential candidates are all my friends. They know me, I know them. Perhaps, I will be able to enhance the Office of the Vice President by being a consensus-builder. Imagine, try to build consensus with 23 different republics,” he added.

He also said that he will not be a critic of the sitting president should he be elected as vice president, reiterating that he will make use of his position to push for a holistic approach in addressing the problem of illegal drugs in the country.

“With the clout of the Office of the Vice President ay ibang klase. I can do a holistic approach that I did before in Quezon City that brought down the drug cases from 54% to  9% when I left and went to legislation to be able to enhance the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which I did kaya po nailagay ko d'on ang holistic approach sa illegal drugs wherein there should be enforcement, prosecution to address the problem of supply reduction; and prevention and rehabilitation to be able to address the problem of demand reduction or the strategy of demand reduction which is not being done by this government or the previous government,” he said.

“I can do it with or without a position. As long as I have the Office of the Vice President, therefore I will be able to do it nationwide,” he added.—AOL, GMA News

This article Sotto says P328B unused funds in nat'l budget may cover P640M lost revenues from e-sabong was originally published in GMA News Online.

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