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Senate urged to preserve grassroots program funds

12:10 AM November 27, 2014

DAVAO CITY—A network of civil society organizations is lobbying the Senate to oppose cuts in the proposed P20.7 billion budget for the so-called Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) program that allows local government units to take part in identifying projects for funding by the national government.

Also called Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB), the GPB is a budget reform program of President Aquino which was initiated by the late Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.

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At least 100 representatives of civil society groups are to march on the Senate to press for a meeting with Senate President Franklin Drilon to lobby for a preservation of the proposed GPB budget and passage of a measure that would institutionalize the budget reform program.

Marco Polo Ferrer, national secretary of the group Kilos

Mamamayan, in a press release e-mailed to the Inquirer, said the groups are clamoring for support for GPB as it had “already benefited hundreds of thousands of people through various poverty reduction projects.”

In the city alone, at least P100 million in projects implemented in 2013 and are being implemented this year are funded through the BUB scheme, according to Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.

Roxas said that under BUB, the city got P50 million in 2013 and another P50 million this year.

In 2015, the city would get about P30 million, he said.

“This amount is on top of the Internal Revenue Allotment given to the local government units as this is included in the GAA (General Appropriations Act),” Roxas said.

He said under the BUB scheme, communities are empowered to identify the projects they need unlike in the traditional budgeting system, where government officials identify projects for LGUs.

In the 2015 national budget currently being deliberated at the Senate, at least 1,600 cities and municipalities are to benefit from antipoverty projects, according to Ferrer.

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He said passing a measure to institutionalize GPB would make the program a permanent part of the budget planning process.

“This is the only program that involves the people, working with the government in identifying what they need to help improve their lives,” Ferrer said.

“In a way, this ensures that government projects would trickle down to the grassroots that need them most,” he said.

Ferrer’s group is also currently collecting signatures in support of the GPB. Dubbed “Milyong Lagda para sa GPB,” the campaign started in September in Palayan City and has been brought to cities and towns all over the country. Karlos Manlupig and Judy Quiros, Inquirer Mindanao

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