Roxas plans P100-B Karapatan Fund to ease poverty
Call it the Karapatan Fund, and no, it’s not a resurrected version of the much-maligned pork barrel fund or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
“We are calling it the Karapatan Fund because it will be the right of each Filipino to receive this service,” said its proponent, Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas who described the P100-billion fund as part of a major poverty alleviation plan that his administration would implement should he win the 2016 elections.
In a televised interview on Tuesday night, Roxas and his running mate, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, widow of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, said the plan sought to address the roots of the poverty problem and promote the “holistic development” of the country.
Under a prospective Roxas-Robredo administration, more than P100 billion would be distributed to the local government units (LGUs) of 1,490 towns over six years to address local problems and develop each municipality, a statement from the Roxas camp said on Wednesday.
The fund, to be administered by the LGU, would follow the mechanics and participative approach of the bottom-up budgeting (BUB) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which was first instituted in 2013, Roxas said.
Under the BUB, which at one point was called the grassroots participatory budgeting program, select LGUs were asked to come up with a “wish list” of projects worth P15 million for towns and P50 million for cities, through consultations with local nongovernment organizations. The projects were funded by the national government.
Although the BUB had been criticized by certain quarters as some sort of “pork barrel” fund under executive control, Roxas said the Karapatan Fund was far from being a resurrected version of the PDAF, discretionary funds that used to be enjoyed by members of Congress until parts of it were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Roxas said the program would be “sharply focused” on the needs of people on the ground.
The TV interview showed Roxas and Robredo projecting a complementary partnership, with the presidential contender saying he would focus his attention on the macroeconomic level of governance, while Robredo would concentrate her efforts on the grassroots.
Roxas served as secretary of trade and industry from 2000 to 2003, while Robredo worked with grassroots organizations as a lawyer of the Public Attorney’s Office and the free legal aid group, Saligan.
“We’re like bibingka. (native rice cake) There’s fire above and fire below. We’re looking at things using different lenses,” said Robredo.