DBM: No ‘pork’ in antipoverty projects
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—Heeding the clamor, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has uploaded on its two websites the details of poverty reduction projects worth P20.9 billion, which 1,590 local governments are seeking through a Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) in the proposed P2.6-trillion national budget for 2015.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad made public the GPBP details on Thursday after Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc, deputy majority floor leader, disclosed that his review of the national expenditure program and its accompanying six books showed that enormous amounts of pork barrel had been inserted in the proposed budget through the GPBP.
The GPBP is a pioneering budget reform measure being employed by the Aquino administration.
Bondoc, national treasurer of the Nacionalista Party, said lump sum-budgeting and post-enactment identification of projects, which the Supreme Court ruled to be unconstitutional, made their way again into the proposed 2015 budget.
These appropriations were earmarked for “various projects” or for “projects to be identified,” “projects to be determined,” “to be determined,” and “to be identified.”
“Please post the list in the DBM and GPBP websites for everyone to see. This way, nobody can claim that these are merely lump sums with no disaggregation,” Abad said in his order to the DBM staff.
Abad’s aide, Patrick Lim, said, “We have the list of the breakdown of these various projects. DA (Department of Agriculture) had already provided Congress [with the details] during their deliberation. We can provide that to the (House) appropriation committee as well.”
The uploaded data did provide more details, a check by the Inquirer showed.
The uploaded report listed projects that were not allowed under GPBP’s Joint Memorandum Circular No. 4. These included those projects costing below P500,000, farm-to-market roads and vaccinations.
Because the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is not among the 13 agencies involved in the implementation of GPBP, infrastructure projects instead went to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
With P5.732 billion for GPBP projects, the DILG is going to handle the biggest allocation. The DILG yielded P1.715 billion worth of items identified as “various projects.”
Citizens and civil society groups monitoring local projects can access GPBP details by opening www.dbm.gov.ph/wpcontent/uploads/GrassRoot/Grassroots%20Partcipatory%20Budgeting%20FY%202015%20-%20Disaggregated%20Project%20List_81414.pdf.
The information is outlined in a 259-page report, arranged according to regions.
“At the outset, I thanked the DBM and Secretary Abad for their transparency. I assure them that I would review [the uploaded report] with a fine-toothed comb as my contribution to reforms in the Aquino administration,” Bondoc said on Friday.
He urged his colleagues to scrutinize the budget to make sure that GPBP projects were really results of consultative method of funding and identified by poor communities.
Project funds for Bottoms-up Budgeting, precursor of the GPBP, more than doubled from P8.397 billion in 2013 to P17.554 billion in 2014. In 2015, the GPBP has a total of P20.899 billion. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
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