OPPOSITION Sen. Nancy Binay is convinced that the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) introduced by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in the proposed 2015 budget shows similarities with the pork barrel system that was declared illegal by the Supreme Court last year.
Binay on Tuesday said she believes that the GPB, formerly known as the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB), is unclear and discretionary, flaws that need to be addressed by the executive to prove that the new budgeting scheme is not an attempt to circumvent the SC’s ruling on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
“Among my concerns is the discretion, because under the GPB, it is the executive that would be in charge of choosing which local government units (LGUs) will be given additional funding,” the senator told The Manila Times in an interview.
Since Malacañang will select the LGUs, Binay said, it is possible that more would be received by favored cities and municipalities in the country.
She cited the DBM admitting during a Development Budget Coordinating Committee briefing on the proposed 2015 budget last month that some LGUs could get more than one GPB project allocation.
“This is the reason why I always bring this GPB issue up every budget hearing because the nature of the new system is very similar to lump-sum [budgeting],” Binay said.
Under the GPB, the executive branch will come up with a menu containing various priority programs and projects for the development of the poorest localities in the country.
The LGUs would then submit a “wish list” of projects based on the allotted amount for each LGU.
For this year’s BUB, the government reportedly allotted P15 million each for every LGU and for next year’s GPB the DBM earmarked at least P20.9 billion for the LGUs.
Binay disputed the supposed transparency in implementation of the GPB, noting apparent lack of criteria in the selection of the LGUs and partner non-government organizations (NGOs).
The GPB was meant to make the budget inclusive for the “poorest of the poor” but the senator said other LGUs, Makati City among them, also got allocation from the budgeting scheme.
Taguig City, according to Binay, also got over P1 million from the GPB inserted into the expenses of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for 2015.
It was learned that the DBM has allocated a total of P444.2 million for the GPB of the DOLE, and around P1.097 million is allocated to Taguig City for assistance to persons with disability (PWDs).
Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate finance committee, maintained that the GPB cannot be considered “pork” since legislators have no hand in its implementation in the first place.
In fact, he said, some congressmen are not happy with the GPB because the funds are directly given to the LGUs and it is the local government officials who will decide on how they want to use the funds.
He explained that pork barrel funds are allocations under the discretion of the legislators—senators and congressmen—while GBP funds directly go to the LGUs, not the lawmakers.
“If you’re talking about vestiges of pork barrel, there is none because legislators have no control over the [GPB]. As for the suspicion that only favored LGUs will be given funds, almost every LGU was given [funds under the]GBP,” Escudero said.