P48.4-B budget sought for regional gov’t offices, state schools in R-12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 March) — The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region has endorsed a proposed budget of P48.4 billion for the operations and programs in 2014 of the 42 regional line agencies, state colleges and universities and other government offices based in the region.

Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, RDC-12 chairperson, said Monday the council’s executive committee issued the endorsement following a marathon review and consultations that it initiated for the budget proposals of all government institutions operating in the region.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Cotabato, Koronadal, Kidapawan and Tacurong.

“The marathon review focused on the programs, projects and activities included in the 2014 budget proposals,” Custodio said.

She said the review of the budget proposals was in consonance with the RDC’s mandate as provided for in Executive Order 325 and in compliance with National Budget Memorandum No. 115 dated December 28, 2012 issued by the Department of Budget and Management.

Such process involved 34 regional line agencies, five state universities and colleges and three other “government instrumentalities.”

“The review process is not only about budget proposals, nor only for agencies with big projects. This is being done in the spirit of transparency and accountability,” Custodio said.

The mayor said it also covered a review of policies and drawing up of recommendations on project implementation bottlenecks within the region.

She said the budget proposals covered combined appropriations of P26.76 billion under the social sector; P9.876 billion for economic sector; P10.117 billion for infrastructure component; and, P1.649 billion for the governance sector.

Custodio said the Department of Education (DepEd)-Region 12 submitted the biggest budget proposal at P19.33 billion, which will mainly fund the implementation of its flagship K to 12 program.

She said the Department of Public Works and Highways proposed the second biggest budget at P6.96 billion, which includes appropriations for proposed roads and bridges recommended by the council during the regional road summit last year.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development submitted the third biggest budget at P3.66 billion and with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps as its centerpiece initiative, she said.

In a statement released by RDC-12, it cited that among the major initiatives discussed during the review process was the proposed establishment of a College of Medicine at the Mindanao State University (MSU)-General Santos City campus.

“There were questions on its viability considering that the UP Manila School of Health Sciences South Cotabato extension campus in Koronadal City will offer the same (course) under a ladderized scheme,” it said.

It said MSU officials explained that the proposed opening of a College of Medicine here was in response to the long-time clamor of the area for such program.

They noted that the proposed college will not compete with the existing UP health sciences campus considering that the latter’s program have local government-endorsed enrollees while that of the university will be open and highly competitive, the statement said.

It added that the MSU leadership has initially commissioned a feasibility study to determine the program’s viability.

The RDC-12 statement said “a long and heated deliberation” ensued for the proposed MalMar (Malitubog-Maridagao) Irrigation Project’s second phase.

“Questions focused on the project’s long overdue completion, the large amount of money already spent and the increasing cost of the project due to delays in implementation,” it added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)