The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has accused the Liberal Party (LP) of bribing local executives with government funds to secure votes in the coming elections.
The allegation came after the ruling LP’s standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd promised to allocate P100 billion in funding for local government units (LGUs) if he wins the presidency, in a speech before the Liga ng Barangay sa Pilipinas Forum in Pasay City (Metro Manila).
The amount, Roxas said, will fund the Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB) program.
“The BuB’s aim is very much different from its original intention as the national budget in the people’s hands. But it seems that the party is using the national budget to bribe the public,” former Cainta (Rizal) Mayor and UNA spokesman Mon Ilagan said in a statement issued on Sunday.
He further alleged, “The LP’s bribery using the BuB is grave. There is P24.7 billion tucked in the national budget and this is the largest pork-barrel in election year history.”
Ilagan was referring to the 2016 national budget for the BuB program, wherein LGUs and people’s organizations identify local projects for funding by the national government.
The LP is led by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who will step down this year when he finishes his single six-year term.
Its presidential bet Roxas, a member of Aquino’s Cabinet as Interior secretary, is running, among others, against Vice President Jejomar Binay, who leads UNA.
“No matter how Mar and LP call it or sweeten the packaging, it is still legalized vote-buying because it is meant to influence the people’s voting preferences… the BuB can now be called ‘Bribe Ur Barangay’ because this is already their model of legal vote-buying,” Ilagan said.
He added that the administration was “so desperate” it had to allegedly resort to “wholesale bribery” by using the BuB and Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program just to win local support.
“’Bribe Ur Barangay’ is the new localized version of pork-barrel politics. The power of the LP’s purse is energized by the administration’s CCT and BUB projects. The BUB’s rationale is no longer developmental but envelopmental, no longer economics but politics,” Ilagan said.
The CCT Program is the government’s flagship program that aims to reduce poverty by providing cash grants to extremely poor households so that they can meet human development goals.
Both Roxas and Binay vowed to expand the CCT Program in earlier sorties.