Second Cabinet meeting focused on DPWH budget

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday held his second Cabinet meeting, which was focused on preparations for the 2023 budget, specifically that of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The meeting was held virtually after the President caught the coronavirus, Press Secretary Rose Beatrix Cruz-Angeles said in a message to reporters.

Citing the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) presentation at the meeting, Ms. Cruz-Angeles said the national budget for 2023 will promote a “broad-based and inclusive” economic recovery. She did not elaborate.

Last week, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the DBM is aiming to submit a P5.268-trillion budget to Congress on Aug. 22.

The DBM is keeping the 2023 spending plan within ceilings proposed by the previous administration.

The DBM has said that the 2023 budget would be geared towards agriculture and food security, climate change adaptation, economic recovery, improved healthcare and education, and enhanced infrastructure projects including digital infrastructure, among others.

At the second Cabinet meeting of the Presidential term, the DPWH discussed its plans for continuing Build, Build, Build program, Ms. Cruz-Angeles said, without discussing any possible revisions of the previous government’s flagship project lineup.

Public Works Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan has said that Mr. Marcos instructed the department to weigh its priority project list towards works that improve food security.

Mr. Marcos, who heads the Agriculture department, has signaled that he will boost domestic production and rely less on food imports to address the impending food crisis, and promised to significantly raise production of rice and corn.

The Department of Transportation also discussed its priority programs and projects at the meeting, Ms. Cruz-Angeles said.

Mr. Marcos, 64, tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. On Monday, his lead physician said in a note sent to reporters that the President was still experiencing “very mild nasal stuffiness and nasal itchiness” but his cough had disappeared.

“Additional medications were given to address his concerns and all other medicines were advised to be continued,” according to the note. “He is still with no fever and body malaise.”

In a separate statement released late on Tuesday, Ms. Cruz-Angeles said concerns about workers’ skills were also raised during the Cabinet meeting.

“Among the suggestions to address these standing issues include a reform of the current curriculum since the rise of automation has posed a threat to many jobs,” she said.

In his presentation, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual underscored the need for a review of education curricula, Ms. Cruz-Angeles said.

Mr. Pascual said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is ramping up efforts to help universities develop micro-credentialing systems to catch up with technological developments, according to the statement.

“We’re developing or helping universities develop this system of micro-credentialing because technology is changing very fast. There is a need for workers to update themselves, to reskill or upskill,” Mr. Pascual was qouted as saying.

Mr. Pascual also proposed to send teachers overseas for training. “Vietnam, for example, sends teachers to the United States and Europe for advanced studies,” he said.

Mr. Pascual said the DTI will collaborate closely with the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and TESDA to address the issue of job skills mismatches. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza