Nancy Binay eyes budget process review vs insertions

Nancy Binay eyes budget process review vs insertions

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:05 AM February 19, 2024

Sen. Nancy Binay - 07feb2024 - 02

Sen. Nancy Binay (Voltaire Domingo and Joseph Vidal / Senate Social Media Unit)

Sen. Nancy Binay is pushing for a review of the current process in the bicameral conference committee to strengthen transparency during the approval of the final version of the national budget.

“Maybe it’s good to check what else we can add to the [bicameral conference committee process, or BCC] … so we don’t end up getting surprised,” Binay said in a radio interview.


Binay’s proposal came following the latest friction among lawmakers over the P26.7-billion fund allocation in the 2024 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the Ayuda Para sa Kapos ang Kita Program (Akap).


Senators, during the upper chamber’s probe of the signature campaign for a people’s initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution, questioned the Akap fund supposedly intended for “near-poor” and low-income families.

Sen. Imee Marcos alleged that it was being redirected to the Charter change signature drive and that it “magically” appeared in the 2024 national budget.

Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. said it was “absurd” for senators to question its inclusion in the 2024 budget when they also approved it. He even showed proof that Marcos signed the bicameral committee report containing the funds for Akap.

The President’s sister was a member of the Senate panel in the bicameral conference committee that discussed with its counterpart in the House the disagreeing provisions of the 2024 General Appropriations bill.

“Since we don’t want a reenacted budget, we try to finish it before the end of the year so it would be signed by the President as soon as possible,” Binay said, noting that the lawmakers are usually pressed for time.

“Maybe we should figure out how we could avoid time constraints as an excuse … we should really scrutinize and thoroughly study what is happening during the bicam,” she said.



Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson also expressed belief that there are many questionable entries in the P5.768-trillion 2024 national budget, and this includes Akap.

According to him, the controversy surrounding the 2024 national budget stemmed from the bicameral conference committee meetings, which, he said, lacks transparency.

“There is nothing illegal about an item suddenly appearing at the bicameral conference committee,” he said in a radio interview, adding that there is no rule or law prohibiting lawmakers from introducing certain items or provisions during the bicameral meeting.

READ: Sen. Binay wants transparency in China’s Benham maritime research

“But [what’s bad about it is that is] it affects trust,” he added.

“During the BCC on the budget, they don’t keep minutes of the meeting. And the media is also not allowed to cover the meeting. The meetings are held behind closed doors. No one can enter the room, it is exclusive for the members of the bicam committees of both houses. So in that regard, anything can really happen,” Lacson said.

If both the House of Representatives and the Senate had a mutual trust, no one would dare insert some provisions, he stressed.

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He called the Akap fund insertion in the 2024 national budget as “sneaky,” having been placed under the budget appropriation of the DSWD but inserted after the Quick Response Fund. He added that he was not surprised at all why the senators are not aware of the House’s move to include the Akap fund. INQ

TAGS: budget, Nancy Binay, Senate, transparency

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