Aquino shifts P20B to war on poverty
It sounds like funding for a drinking session but it is what the latest government antipoverty program is called.
The program, dubbed Bottoms-Up-Budget (BUB), will set aside P20 billion for projects to be identified by mayors of the country’s poorest provinces as part of the Aquino administration’s efforts to lift more families from poverty.
The amount is lower than the P24.1 billion in Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel, given to representatives (P20.1 billion) and senators (P4 billion) last year.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. said President Benigno Aquino III had instructed agencies, like the Department of Education, Department of Health, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources, offering social services to rechannel part of their funds to BUB starting next year.
The projects to be funded are preschools, health centers, water supplies, reforestation and flood mitigation.
Decided from ground
“The big difference (from other antipoverty programs) will be the process: Instead of projects being dictated from the top, this time around they will be decided from the ground, by local government units working closely with their communities. So there will be no duplication,” said Abad in a text message.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said that only provinces granted a “seal of good housekeeping” would have access to the funds, with their allocations dependent on their antipoverty targets.
Salceda is the head of the Bicol regional development council, one of the first councils to prepare for a BUB project.
He said the program would be mapped out by a local poverty reduction action team to be composed mostly of civil society organizations and chaired by Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
The governor said BUB would give incentives to local government units (LGUs) so they could mobilize their grassroots knowledge and resources in coming up with the best solutions to eradicate poverty in their areas.
Salceda said civil society groups and LGUs would take part in the decision-making to ensure local ownership of the projects. For example, he said, the National Irrigation Administration would implement a project but the LGU would identify the site.
In the case of classrooms, the Department of Education would build them but an LGU would determine where these were needed most in a province.
In his budget message to Congress last year, President Aquino announced that the BUB would be pilot tested in 609 of the country’s poorest communities. The communities were asked to submit Local Poverty Reduction Actions Plans for approval.
Salceda said BUB would be the fourth piece of the administration’s antipoverty programs meant to lighten the common people’s daily subsistence in the short term and mop up poverty in the long term.
The first three programs and their budgets are the K to 12 of the Department of Education (P150 billion); Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, or conditional cash transfer program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (P72 billion), and Kalusugang Pangkalahatan (Health for All) of the Department of Health and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (P105 billion), according to Salceda.
The DSWD’s cash transfer program targets 3.8 million households this year, up from 2.3 million households last year.
Salceda noted that these programs would reduce families’ out-of-pocket costs in education, food and health to help them maximize their meager income and savings.