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MANILA, Philippines – It took only about 10 minutes for the House of Representatives to give its seal of approval to the multi-billion peso budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
But DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano “Dinky” Soliman’s elation was short-lived when the department’s officials were asked to return to plenary for the possible reopening of the interpellation on their budget.
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said Soliman and several executives of the agency would be around in case lawmakers would ask further questions on their budget. They were not able to interpellate because they came in after the session resumed at 10 a.m.
Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua, a member of the minority, was reportedly upset over the swift approval of the DSWD budget. Gonzales said Fua and Soliman have already talked at the sidelines.
Soliman said this was the first time in three years when the swift approval came on the budget of the department, which was often seen controversial because of its cash subsidy program called the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).
For 2013, Malacanang is seeking a P56.2-billion budget for the DSWD, which would include the P44.2-billion appropriation for CCT aimed to cover some 3.5 million targeted household beneficiaries for next year.
“They see the efficacy of it,” Soliman said when asked if doubts on the program are dispelled.
Soliman said the lawmakers were also satisfied with the monthly and quarterly reports they furnished each district on the work that they do for the area.
“It’s the first time (DSWD budget was passed quickly) and I think it went that way because we provided information to the Congress people every month and every quarter on the work that we are doing in their district, so they had the information,” she said in an interview after the budget’s approval.
Soliman said the regular updates were requested by Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas to determine the impact of the cash subsidy project on the people.
“I think from their point of view, we have been doing the work and have been coordinating with them closely, so all they need is the information of what we’re doing and for them to see what’s going on and that the reason I think that they immediately approved the budget,” Soliman added.