Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday said it would be best for the government if it realigns the allocation for travel in the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget to other items in the national expenditure program (NEP) in order to save money.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

Gatchalian said he also doubts it would be wise to travel under the present circumstances as the nation continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hindi ko nakikita na magkakaroon ng biyahe, baka buong taon next year. Unang-una walang gusto bumiyahe; pangalawa, it will take time bago bumalik sa normal yung tourism natin (I don’t see that it would be feasible to travel, even until the whole year next year. In the first place, nobody wants to travel; second, it will take time before our tourism goes back to normal),” Gatchalian said in a GMANewsTV interview.

For instance, Gatchalian said the Department of Education (DepEd) can suspend its Lakbay-Aral program, an educational tour that aims to provide experiential learning to students.

“So pwedeng tanggalin ang pagbiyahe, (like yung) Lakbay-Aral, dahil ngayon webinar na lahat.  (So we can do away with travel, like the Lakbay-Aral, because everything now has evolved to holding of webinars),” Gatchalian said.

“Kaya di mo kailangan magpakain, di mo na kailangan ng magrenta ng sasakyan, lahat mas mura na sa webinar (You don’t have to spend money for food, and rent vehicles as it would be less costly if you choose to hold webinars),” said the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture chief.

Gatchalian noted the government shells out billions of pesos for travel and it can only save much money if it chooses to realign funds allocated for travel in the proposed national budget to other government programs aimed at helping Filipinos cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

“Yung mga ganito tatanggalin natin, bilyon din yan at ilagay na lang natin sa pagtulong sa ating mga kababayan (Allocations such as this should be removed. It also runs to billions, and let us put it where it can be of much use by our citizens),” he said.

“Maraming pag-uusapan sa budget kaya importante busisiin ito nang mabuti para yung dapat matulungan, matulungan, yung mga sobra, yung mga doble-doble matanggal (We have so much to discuss about the budget that’s why it is important to scrutinize it very thoroughly so those who need to be assisted, can be assisted, and any excesses should be trimmed, any double funding should be removed),” the lawmaker stressed.