Drilon on proposed gov't agencies: We need additional calamity funds, not more Cabinet members

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 19)— Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday reiterated his stance and concerns over the proposed creation of new agencies in the government, saying the country at this time needs more calamity funds not more Cabinet members.

"What we need today is additional calamity funds, not additional Cabinet members, because once you form a department, you have to appoint a secretary, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, directors," Drilon told CNN Philippines' The Source, stressing his opposition to the formation of a Department of Disaster Resilience.

There are seven bills pending before the Senate calling for the creation of new government agencies for disaster resilience, overseas Filipino workers, water, fisheries and aquatic resources, sports, homeland security, and culture.

Drilon also raised how the salaries for the over a million national government employees are "eating up" the budget.

"Our budget for salary is eating up everything. In the current year, P1.184 trillion in payroll, next year it will go up to P1.3 trillion. We must rationalize our bureaucracy," the lawmaker said, noting that the appropriation for the calamity fund for this year stands at P16 billion.

In a hearing at the upper chamber last week, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said he would want to first review and remove redundant positions and government offices before passing bills that will create new departments.

READ: Sotto wants to trim govt. fat before creating new agencies

Better agency coordination, strengthened OCD sought after floods

Meanwhile, Drilon also backed the call for an investigation into the massive flooding in parts of Luzon due to typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco), as he highlighted the need for better coordination among concerned government agencies.

"I am in favor of an inquiry so that we can have better coordination and maybe a better protocol can be crafted," Drilon said, adding he would also like to see a "strengthening" of the Office of Civil Defense.

Parts of the country particularly areas in Luzon are still reeling from the effects of the consecutive typhoons, with dozens of fatalities and billions of pesos worth of damage reported in the aftermath of Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses.