Lacson files bill seeking to institutionalize direct public participation in the budget process

(Eagle News) — Senator Panfilo Lacson has filed a bill institutionalizing the direct participation of people’s organizations and non-government organizations in the preparation of the country’s annual spending bill.

In filing Senate Bill No. 2219, Lacson said there was a need “to achieve a people-oriented budget as well as establish transparency and accountability in the budget process.”

Under the bill, civil society organizations can observe public consultations, and submit position papers to national government agencies (NGAs) and government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) on the proposed budget.

“The vital role it plays in the operations of our government, and ultimately in the life of every Filipino, demands that there should be mechanisms in place that will enable citizens to participate in the budget process so as to correct spending priorities and to ensure transparency in the appropriation of valuable taxpayers’ money,” Lacson said.

Lacson was among those who called out the House of Representatives over its alleged “alignments” done after Congress ratified its version of the 2019 budget bill.

House appropriations chair Rolando Andaya Jr. said these were mere “itemizations” that would make the budget easier to scrutinize.

Although Senate President Tito Sotto ended up signing the budget bill enrolled by the House, he did so with “strong reservations.”

President Rodrigo Duterte ended up vetoing provisions of the proposed budget bill that included the alleged alignments made by the House.