SWP to Congress: To promote transparency and accountability, reveal your amendments to the public| Press Release 19 Feb 2019
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2019
After ratifying the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2019 on February 8, Social Watch Philippines (SWP) urged the House of Representatives and the Senate to divulge the changes they have endorsed in the ratified national budget.
These changes are either “institutional” amendments arising from budget request from different agencies, and individual legislator amendments such as various new infrastructure projects, farm-to-market roads and other financial assistance to local government units. The latter are pork insertions of several legislators as previously revealed in the scrutiny of the 2019 budget by the Office of Senator Panfilo Lacson.
“We challenge all legislators who have sponsored amendments in the House, Senate and Bicameral conference levels to follow Senators Lacson’s and Drilon's lead and exercise its power of the purse with clear accountability. Legislators’ revisions to the budget should be conveyed formally and on record”, the watchdog group said. Senator Lacson posted online his official submission to the Senate Finance Committee and Senator Drilon revealed his proposals before the Senate plenary.
“This way, citizens will have the opportunity to know and hold accountable the legislators who will prioritize national interests and those who will prioritize their own, personal, vested interests as far as the national budget is concerned”, they added.
SWP also urged the Congress to fast track the transmission of the ratified budget bill to the Executive sooner than later. The Congress is expected to submit the 2019 GAB for the President’s signature on March 1. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) recently provided a target of the final passage of the 2019 budget within the first quarter of the year.
“Signing the P3.757-trillion budget this year into law is of utmost importance. With the stamp of approval from the House and Senate, there should not be any further delay to have it delivered for the President's review and final approval. Without a national budget in place, adverse ramifications will be inevitable in the implementation of much needed programs and services for the poor and the most vulnerable”, SWP explained.
The national government has been operating on a reenacted budget early this year, following months of slow progress in the budget deliberations as a result of the rescinding of support of the House of Representatives for the cash-based budgeting system and weeks of deadlock due to the alleged pork allocations in the 2019 budget. ###
Social Watch Philippines (SWP) is a network of over a hundred civil society organizations and individuals engaged in research and lobby efforts in holding the government accountable for the fulfillment of national, regional and international commitments to eradicate poverty and carry out social, economic, and gender justice. SWP promotes people-centered sustainable development by proactively monitoring the progress and delivery of social commitments forged by the government and influencing the outcomes of policy decisions through citizen's participation in public finance.
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