"We walk the talk now. We will always walk the talk."
On this note, Sen. Panfilo "Ping" M. Lacson pushed for a budget increase to enhance the Philippines' defense posture for Pag-asa Island in the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea.
Lacson, who visited Pag-asa Island last Nov. 20 in his capacity as chairman of the Senate's Defense Committee, had noted the poor conditions of our troops in the area.
"Pag may nakitang problema o kakulangan sinusundan natin ng aksyon. Hindi pangako lang, talagang gagawan namin ng paraan ni Senate President Vicente 'Tito' Sotto III (If Senate President Vicente 'Tito' Sotto III and I see a problem, we not just promise. We follow it up with action)," Lacson said at the weekly LACSON-SOTTO Meet the Press media forum.
He said he proposed P254.241 million to fund the enhancement of the facilities in Kalayaan, including:
* P5.393 million for the procurement of power system requirements;
* P15.351 million for the procurement of rubber boats with outboard motors;
* P233.497 million for the procurement of communication and other mission-essential equipment for KIG detachments.
Lacson also proposed an additional P38.509 million for the Pagasa Island Research Station (PIRS), whose support and development would be key to understanding - and sustainably utilize - marine resources in the West Philippine Sea. This includes:
* P10 million for a two-storey dormitory building/marine facility
* P28.509 million to purchase marine scientific and oceanographic equipment
Earlier this week, Lacson also pushed for a high school and additional hardship allowances for the students and teachers there. The island currently has only one elementary school and two teachers.
Other amendments Lacson proposed for the 2022 budget include a P100-million increase in the subsidy for the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
However, Lacson lamented that the budgets of some agencies, including the Department of Public Works and Highways, still have a big disconnect with the needs and priorities of the local government units.
For his part, Sotto said that if he and Lacson win the 2022 elections, Lacson can solve the persistent issue in preparing the budget.
Sotto said Lacson will be honed by 18 years of experience in scrutinizing the budget in the Senate.
"Can you imagine if Sen. Lacson is President and will execute the budget and propose the National Expenditure Program? Pagkatapos ng 18 taon scrutinize niyan at bigyan ng pagkakataon siya gagawa ng NEP at mag-execute ang laki ng ginhawa ng ating mga kababayan (Can you imagine if Sen. Lacson is president and will execute the budget and propose the National Expenditure Program? After 18 years of scrutinizing the budget as a senator, if he will be given a chance to prepare the NEP, I am sure the people will feel the benefits of the national budget under his administration)," he said.
Lacson is running for President under Partido Reporma while Sotto is running for Vice President under the Nationalist People's Coalition.