Group welcomes Congress’ willingness to engage CSOs in budget deliberations
SOCIALWATCH PHILS, SEPTEMBER 4, 2020
Public budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines (SWP) thanks House of Representatives of the Philippines Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano for his pronouncement to allow the active participation of people’s or civil society organizations (CSOs) in the deliberations of the national budget. They hope that the same can be done in the Senate of the Philippines.
“CSOs can actually provide expertise and unique perspective in formulating people-centered budgeting for the lawmakers,” the group said in a statement.
A network of more than a hundred CSOs organized in early 1997 to monitor the implementation of government commitments to social development, the SWP has long been on the forefront of calling for transparency, accountability, and people’s participation in the national budget process.
The group convened the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) network in 2006, jointly conceptualized with leaders of the opposition in the House of Representatives, in which then-Congressman Alan Peter S. Cayetano was a member of the House Minority.
The ABI is a long-standing platform and best practice for various groups and individuals to vigorously advocate for increased budget allocations for social development. The SWP-ABI platform involves a partnership between legislators and CSOs formed as Clusters working on education, health and smoke-free environment, social protection, agriculture, environment, as well as crosscutting concerns of gender, climate change, persons with disabilities, and child protection.
Recently, the SWP has formally asked Representative Eric Go Yap, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, to allow the SWP in the about to start deliberations on the Fiscal Year 2021 Proposed National Budget.
The group is appealing for Congressman Yap to open committee-level and plenary budget hearings on all agency budgets for public livestreaming to be available through the House of the Representatives social media accounts. The budget deliberations at the House of the Representatives commenced earlier today with the discussion on sources of financing, expenditure levels and budget proposals with the Department Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).
The SWP is also requesting that Representative Yap’s Committee provide space for CSO participation by giving the group access to the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) budget documents, allowing SWP together with the ABI Cluster representatives to join in the Zoom meeting of the virtual budget deliberations of the House Committee on Appropriations of key agency budgets.
According to the group, the process will also allow them to formally present and submit position papers and alternative budget proposals for social development.
Given COVID-19, Social Watch Philippines likewise urged the House and Senate Leadership to make accessible in their respective websites, the official email addresses and Facebook accounts of all legislators our people to fully interact with them.
“Aside from bolstering the transparency effort of the government, the window of participation can actually assist in formulating more responsive budgeting, by increasing budget allocations for social developments, in which the group has considerable years of experience,” according to the SWP. ###
About Social Watch Philippines
Social Watch Philippines (SWP), is a network of a hundred civil society organizations advocating for transparent, efficient, accountable and pro-poor use of public funds.
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