Bacolod: Senate President, Negros solons to work on restoring SIDA budget


Bacolod City – Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Negros Occidental 5th District Rep. Emilio “Dino” Yulo III pledged their commitment for the restoration of a P2 billion budget for the implementation of the Sugar Industry Development Act (SIDA) program next year.

This was after the Department of Budget only proposed a P1 billion for SIDA programs in 2024, disclosed earlier by acting SRA chief Pablo Azcona.

As budget is being considered as a local measure, Zubiri said he will work with the Negros bloc in the House of Representatives, which will discuss the proposed budget for next year, on the restoration of P2 billion budget for SIDA.

Yulo, who backs the budget restoration of SIDA, said “the reasonable compromise would be to recommend to the DBM (for) the funding of each component of SIDA, such as the construction of the farm to mill road, scholarships and socialized credit program, bloc farming and mechanization.”

A former SRA board member, Yulo noted that the funds of farm to mill road construction, scholarships, and socialized credit programs, have been 100 percent fully utilized.

With respect to farm mechanization and bloc farming, the solon said “we can compromise… maybe we can be funded to the utilization rate.”

The proposed P1 billion for next year is divided into the following allocations: P485M farm-to-mill roads, P15M bridge construction, P150M bloc farms program, P150M socialized credit program, P150M research and development, and P50M on human resource development program.

As stipulated in the provisions of RA 10659, or Sugar Industry Development Act of 2015, the Department of Budget Management must allocate P2 billion annually for its programs.

Zubiri blamed the previous leadership of the Department of Agriculture for not implementing the SIDA law properly.

Every year, whenever we raised the issue, the DBM tells us that the absorptive capacity of government agencies is low. Since they don’t spend the money, they will only give them what they can spend, the Senate president said.

Zubiri said he will discuss the budget with Senator Cynthia Villar, co-authored of the SIDA law and chair of the Senate committee on Agriculture.

Meanwhile, with the 72 percent completion of the Bacolod Museum, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has committed P100 million more for its completion and landscaping.

Zubiri, who on August 12 inspected the ongoing construction of the Bacolod Museum, said its completion is targeted either by the first quarter, or early second quarter of next year.

The Bacolod Coliseum is also being constructed adjacent to the Museum, which according to Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, is also targeted for completion by October next year.

The Bacolod Museum-auditorium showcases works of famous Bacolod and Negrense artists, as well as MassKara festival history, and winning costumes of winners in the past, as well as future competitions.

We wanted to have a museum where locals and tourists alike can learn about and appreciate the story of Bacolod and our people, Zubiri said, stressing also that the museum-auditorium will also be a place for contemporary and future artists to continue to enrich our sense of pride and identity here in Bacolod.

An amount of P350 million has been allocated by Zubiri for the construction of Bacolod Museum, and another P400 million for the building of Bacolod City General Hospital (BCGH).

The Bacolod City General Hospital, one of the key infrastructure projects that were funded through the initiative of Zubiri, is expected to be completed by 2025.

RA 11554, establishing the BCGH, was authored by Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya in the House of Representatives, and spearheaded by Zubiri in the Senate.

Gasataya reported that the construction of hospital ancillary building, which was funded by Senator Zubiri, is now 70 percent complete. He further said that the Department of Health also gave P250 million for BCGH construction.

Coming out of the pandemic, we want to build up our regional health care services. We don’t want a repeat of the overcrowded hospitals, the overworked nurses and doctors, and the patients being turned away from hospital to hospital. So I am very much looking forward to an improved health care sector here in Western Visayas once BCGH is up and running, Zubiri said.

Zubiri added that he will work with Rep. Gasataya and Mayor Albee Benitez on how they can come up a budget for hospital equipment, as he assured them of additional funds. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)

Leave a Reply