Sotto wants to trim govt. fat before creating new agencies

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 11) — Senate President Tito Sotto III wants to review and remove redundant positions and government offices before passing bills that will create new agencies.

"We can tackle it while we're tackling the departments you want created, but if you ask my personal opinion, I would rather prioritize rightsizing first before we even look into the possibility of new offices, new agencies, or new departments," Sotto said.

Sotto made the remark during a budget hearing on Wednesday, where Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon lamented the "bloated" bureaucracy that has eaten up funds that could otherwise support key programs and projects.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been pushing for the creation of a Department for Overseas Filipino Workers and a Department for Disaster Resilience.

READ: Greater LGU support needed more than new agency on disaster response – Fernando

Currently, various government units handle concerns of the proposed agencies –– for one, disaster mitigation and response is handled by the inter-agency National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. For migrant workers, the Labor department and its attached agencies takes the lead, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Sotto's Senate Bill 244 seeks to "right-size" government operations by reviewing roles and removing "redundancies, overlaps, and duplications" among employees. Covered are national agencies and their units, as well as the Legislative, Judiciary, constitutional offices, local governments, state universities and colleges, and state-run corporations.

"I have been pushing for this since two presidents ago. Wala pang presidenteng nakinig sa akin sa sinasabi kong [so far, no President listened to what I said] early retirement program at rightsizing... Hopefully, this president now will listen," the Senate leader said.

With the bill, units as well as positions can be abolished, while offices doing similar tasks can be merged. A national committee will implement the program, to be led by the Executive Secretary and the Budget Secretary.

Separation or early retirement benefits will be given to employees who will be displaced. Sotto said one study revealed that about 40% of workers offered early retirement will likely accept it. "Can you imagine the amount of budget that you will save and be able to use yearly?" he said.

The bill is still at the committee more than a year since it was filed. Sotto said there are eight bills seeking to add to the long list of departments.

Drilon said the government has become the "largest employment agency," with salaries accounting for a third of annual expenses.

"Given the very dire projections on our revenues, our ability to support our health sector, we should not keep ourselves deeper in the hole by creating more departments at this point before we rationalize our bureaucracy," he added.

Other proposals include the creation of a Department of Economic Planning and Development, a Department of Water Resources Management Act, and a Department of Fisheries.