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3 cabinet members say Negros Occidental trip for work, not for campaign

He said that the government has “majority of the governors, congressmen, the mayors, and it has a lot of support from civil society organizations. The other candidates don’t have that... So now, really the fight is on the ground and who has the most formidable ground infrastructure?”

He added: “That is the case. Now, they are all punched out together, but what will make the difference? For me, it’s the ground and who will have the advantage? That is the difference.”

When asked if who is Roxas’ toughest competitor, the budget secretary said that “the 3 [referring to Roxas' opponents] are exchanging votes but Mar is constant. Once the locals start moving, that will make the difference. You will see his numbers will go up in April.”

Part of budget process

Sarmiento downplayed the reports that their visit in the province is to campaign for Roxas. “We’re doing consultations. We have to prepare the budget.”

He explained that the budget process of the national government for 2017 started on January 1. By June, it should have been approved by the Office of the President and that the budget should already be ready after the SONA (State of the Nation Address).

He added that they have to make sure that everything included in the budget is base on the people’s need.

Sarmiento reiterated that there is no politics. “We’re just doing our work. We’re just doing the budget.”

For her part, Soliman also stressed there is no politics. “First of all, these programs were implemented before election time. It started since the beginning of President Aquino’s term.”

She reiterated they are just checking what to improve in the programs that they have already been implementing “para sa transition, maliwanag (so it is clear during the transition).”

“Obviously, (to) bring home the point that itong lahat ay bunga ng Daan Matuwid (these are all the fruits of Daan Matuwid),” Soliman said.

So no politics? “Well, all actions are political nowadays,” she quipped.

Orientation and consultation

Meanwhile, Abad said that they are cascading the BUBs initially in barangay level “We have been doing it in the municipal level and just this year, in the provincial level.”

“We are trying to see if we are doing it in the barangay level. So, we are here both for an orientation and consultation,” he added.

ADVANTAGE. Budget Secretary Butch Abad says that government has a huge advantage because it is the incumbent government.

ADVANTAGE. Budget Secretary Butch Abad says that government has a huge advantage because it is the incumbent government.

Abad said they have been going around since last year because “the President told us that you know you have to go out there. You know the black propaganda against the administration is very strong, especially in Metro Manila and it is not giving the administration a good image and it’s not presenting the programs fairly. So, part of the reason is to tell people what is happening.”

He said the consultation is how they are going to choose the barangays that can be qualified, because it is not easy. Almot 95% of barangays, he added, have internal revenue allotment (IRA) that is P3 million or less ($64,559)*.

“Meaning, they just have enough money for honorarium and overhead, but they don’t have money for undertaking projects. So, many of them don’t have an experience. You cannot give them a million bucks and expect them to do well," he explained.

"Therefore, you have to identify which barangays can qualify initially and which barangays, if in case they cannot undertake projects, are also qualified to undergo training and capacity building," Abad added. – Rappler.com

*$1=P47