3 Aquino officials meet with Negros village chiefs on budget, deny electioneering
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental — Three members of President Aquino’s Cabinet visited Bacolod City, on Saturday, to meet with civil society representatives, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries and Negros Occidental barangay (village) captains to discuss the expansion of the government’s Bottom-Up-Budgeting (BUB) program to the villages.
But their meetings were held behind the closed doors of the provincial capitol’s social hall and the Negros Occidental Multi-purpose Activity Center in Bacolod City, raising suspicions that these were called to map out the campaign for Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas.
“It (the meeting) has nothing to do with politics. We are just doing our work,” Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento said in an interview.
Senen was in Bacolod City with Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman.
Abad said they have been working to expand the coverage of the BUB program to barangay officials in the 2017 budget preparation.
They met with the barangay chairmen to explain the procedures and requirements for the BUB, he added.
“The BuB is meant to empower grassroots communities and their respective local governments. That’s why we’ve made improvements to the program by allowing LGUs (local government units) to directly identify and implement projects instead of coursing them through the agencies,” Abad said.
Abad said that under the BUB, city and municipal governments have been given P15 million each, which they could further expand to the barangays by allocating about P1 million each.
Senen said barangay BUB projects would be given allocation ranging from P500,000 to P1 million to fund programs geared towards addressing poverty.
“The national budget is being prepared and we are consulting with civil society and barangay officials so that the projects funded would be based on specific needs of their areas,” Senen said.
The budget process started on Jan. 1 and by June, the budget proposal should already be approved by the Office of the President for submission to the new Congress after July, he said.
In a separate interview, Soliman said, she was in Negros to hold a people’s dialog on the government’s legacy projects, discuss its gains, determine how they could further improve program implementation, and ensure its smooth transition to the next administration.
The 4Ps now has a total of 4.4 million family-beneficiaries serving 10 million children nationwide.
The program has 129,264 beneficiaries in Negros Occidental. SFM
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