DAVAO CITY – The Social Watch Philippines urged candidates to state their position on important issues affecting the national budget including pork barrel and lump sum allocation.
In a statement Thursday, SWP lead convenor Prof Leonor Briones said in light of the ratification of the Bicameral Conference Committee report on House Bill 6132 or the 2016 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) by both Houses, “it is important to recognize that its impact will essentially be passed on to the next administration.”
The ratified 2016 GAB will then be transmitted to the President for his approval and signature into law before Christmas.
“In context of the 2016 elections, citizens should challenge those vying for elective positions to disclose their stance on the 2016 Budget, including crucial issues and concerns that come with it,” she 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 said.
She said, however, that the law has still been violated because the framework for DAP and pork barrel still exist.
“We have been stuck at counting the leaves while we overlook the entire forest. By focusing largely on the budgets of agencies, Congress essentially yields its Power of the Purse to the Executive by passing a budget with most if not all lump sums, PDAF-like funds as well as savings and realignment provisions kept intact.” she remarked.
She said they are challenging candidates to say their position on the 2016 budget and to present concrete platforms in instituting reforms to the budget and public finance. (davaotoday.com)