MANILA, Philippines – While recognizing the need to ensure that the national budget prioritizes social development particularly the people’s welfare, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) yesterday criticized the Duterte administration for using this as a convenient excuse to justify the P80-million allocation for pet projects of each legislator.
“The proposed 2017 national budget, with its provision for lawmakers to identify projects for budgetary funding, reeks of traditional or ‘trapo’ politics that perpetuate patronage relations between public officials and their constituents,” FDC Vice-President James Matthew Miraflor said.
Miraflor pointed out that the Supreme Court decision on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the distinct and separate roles of the Executive and Legislative branches in the budget process are clear and should not be undermined by mere technicalities.
“The Duterte administration must stop in its attempt to further weaken the integrity of the budget process just to ensure the loyalty of its allies in Congress and maintain the ‘supermajority’ through political favors involving public funds,” Miraflor added.
Earlier, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno defended before the Senate the P80-million allocation for each solon saying that part of the job of the legislators is to “bring home some bacon” and that they would not be involved in the post-enactment implementation of the national budget.
“Instead of trying to go around Constitutional restrictions, members of the Development Budget Coordinating Council and backers of this repackaged PDAF should look into improving the budget formulation process. There must be something wrong with the government’s priorities and allocations if they still have to set aside a substantial portion of the budget and leave this to the discretion of members of Congress, otherwise, it’s pure and simple accommodation to the whims and caprices of the trapos in our midst,” Miraflor said.
Freedom From Debt Coalition
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – Philippines is a nationwide multi-sectoral, non-sectarian and pluralist coalition conducting policy advocacy work and campaigns to realize a common framework and agenda for economic development.