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.