• President wannabes, speak out against obscene 2016 budget

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    UP’s Professor Emeritus of Public Administration Leonor Magtolis Briones, former national treasurer and a Times columnist on leave, heads Social Watch Philippines. It is a vigilant and deeply knowledgeable organization of patriots seriously monitoring how government is being run, specially how people’s money is being used–or abused,
    Prof. Briones and her group have explained in detail to audiences of policy makers, public administrators and students of governance and social policymaking the arcane details of national budgets and what could be wrong in them, so that the public may help prevent or arrest abuses.

    After thorough and painstaking study, Prof. Briones and SWP found that the “ 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA) of P2.139 trillion which was recently signed by the President into law is loaded with pork and lump sum appropriations.”

    They find that “while the National Expenditure Program (NEP) totals P3.002 trillion, more than P930 billion is in automatic appropriations; while Special Purpose Funds total P408 billion and Unprogrammed Funds total P67.5 billion.”

    Prof. Briones also tells us that “just like the current 2015 GAA, the 2016 GAA reinforces the redefinition of savings and authorizes the transfer of DAP-like funds” to whatever activity the President wishes to use the funds for. This, Prof. Briones reminds us, has been “already declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.”

    SWP alerts us to the fact that this is clearly an “election budget.”

    Prof. Briones explains: “As in previous election years, small infrastructure projects were embedded in the 2016 budget and were specifically identified by legislators during the preparation phase of the budget which amount to huge sums worth of public works.

    Additional insertions were introduced by both Houses of Congress and the Bicameral Conference Committee. Concrete examples are farm to market roads which are identified with legislators who claim credit for them during election sorties.”

    The President and his people in the Cabinet, principally Budget Secretary F. Abad, are responsible for this criminally set-up arrangement of public funds to favor their political allies. This, once more, shows that far from being a reformist president, and instead of treading the “Tuwid na Daan” (the Straight and Righteous Path), BS Aquino is actually leading a corrupt bunch of officials.|

    We agree with Prof. Briones and SWP that people seeking high public office, particularly the presidency, should divulge their stand on this blatantly politically designed national budget for 2016.

    Aspirants for public office, where do you stand?

    Prof Briones said: “Advocates have done all they can to campaign for savings to be reverted to its old definition, which adheres to the Constitution and to generally accepted practice and international standards. On the other hand, petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court against PDAF-like funds and DAP-like budget transfers; while court proceedings are on-going against officials who were charged in the fraudulent spending of pork barrel funds.”

    Prof. Briones declared, “Social Watch challenges candidates to articulate their position on the 2016 Budget and how they stand on issues concerning the diminishing Power of the Purse, discretionary lump sum funds, budget transfers and realignments, persistence of pork barrel, and the distortion of budget terms such as the meaning of errata as applied to the budget and the redefinition of savings. We also call you to pronounce concrete platforms and policies on instituting reforms to the budget and public finance.”

    So, Messrs. Mar Roxas, Rodrigo Duterte, Mrs. Llamanzares, where do you stand?

    We are not asking Vice-President Binay and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago because we have heard them criticize the lump-sum and DAP bloated budget.

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    11 Comments

    1. I wish the good professor make a list of specific items she thinks should be taken out the budget and file a case against the Congress and President in the Supreme Court to disallow these items.
      Didn’t congressmen from other parties other than the Liberal Party get appropriations for their pet projects as well?

    2. LGU’s has Special Purpose Funds too in their annual budget which politicians utilized it as if its their own money. How i wish COA will pay special attention to this because this is one of the most abused fund, most of which is used on ghost projects. Will somebody out there help me how and where to report this kind of practices of politicians so that such funds will be utilized to its fullest, that is to serve ordinary taxpayers not just politician’s pocket.

    3. It’s just another one of those; “wherever there’s money around, there will be crooks and politicians”

    4. NBP please prepare a bigger prison cell for the two bald headed thieves who have authored the biggest plunder in philippine history… no to veterans accommodation because it’s full… and no to any hospital arrest because these two idiots are enjoying their heyday and in the pink of heath….i’m just sorry if duterte will win because i fully know what’s gonna happen to them

    5. Vic Penetrante on

      The bigger the budget, the better for the people, but like the Yolanda contributions, when, if ever, will it reach the people?
      The question to ask the wannabes: Who wants to suffer inconvenience? Like the birth of Jesus “away in a stable with a trough for a crib?”

    6. So, what options are left to us. The budget of billions to fund projects are overwhelming. Since, accordingly, this has been declared “unconstitutional”, what can we lay people do? Many times we see how media presents how Congress conducts hearings and deliberations mostly to the last minute and wee hours before their recess. Only they (in Congress) know what was budgeted. The public is never really involved, nor privy at least in terms of information prior to preliminaries in budget proposals. Can we say that 1. Congress should present and seek approval from the “boss” ,who are constituents, for projects and budget first for “approval” before finally having the figurehead sign it?
      2. Shouldn’t the “technical” people in budget preparations (e.g. SWP) be involved, and perhaps, including as well a credible lay person/civil society, other non-partisan sectors as co-signees prior to higher/final approval? 3.Do taxpayers have a proper venue by which to bring forth their concerns and question the rationality, prudence and even wisdom poured into the allocations? 4. If Congress are to be “legislators”, whose job is it really, to do the process of “budgeting” on local and national levels? What for is DBM, if it were to supposedly “manage” national budget. Why should insertions be allowed? 5. If Prof. Briones and her team uncovered those facts stated, we should all be disappointed. Next fiscal year, when funds will be released, where will it really go? On one hand, we see everyday on the road branded cars and vehicles with government plates. We hear government officials, politicians and their families going on vacations abroad, and their children study abroad. We see how lifestyles of our politicians change from where they used to be. On the other hand, we see the blight and unacceptable state of living conditions of marginalized constituents, the working class, the overseas foreign workers vulnerable to abuse whose quality of life would have been helped improve, etc, etc. What stark dichotomy. What sad reality. Something is not right. What can the masang Pilipino, on its part do.. What power is there left of “the boss”? Will anybody please answer?

    7. Dominador D. Canastra on

      Caqndidates for president and vice-president must tell the public how they stand on BS Aquino’s election budget.

    8. To my mind ;what is more obscene than any budget;is the way many of our officials.from the highest to the lowest..Seem to be Able to get away with pilfering;plundering;,defrauding

      ..They use the public purse as their own private bank,,!

      Even after being convicted,show no remorse –But laugh openly at the whole country This is what is obscene …

      They even stand again;and seemingly are allowed to run for office .

      .The whole world sees this,That to me is what is obscene .!

      ..We the people are allowing this to happen …this to me is the most obscene of all !

      …When are we going to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !.

      .Or are we going to continue to be laughed at by these swindlers; in front of the whole world !

      David M Meyer {PhD psych}