Representatives Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III (LP, 4th District, Quezon) and Teofisto “TG” Guingona III (NP, 2nd District, Bukidnon) filed House Resolution No. 120 calling on the House of Representatives to allow the participation of people’s organizations and civil society organizations (POs and NGOs) in the annual budget deliberations. 


“The crafting of the national budget is a critical legislative exercise as it reflects the actual priorities of the government.  Yet, while we find room for PO and NGO participation even in the crafting of simple legislative measures during committee hearings, I find it odd that Congress does not invite any civil society representatives during the Committee on Appropriations deliberations of the proposed national budget,” Tañada pointed out.


Both legislators agree that some NGOs and POs have developed a critical lens in analyzing government spending on education, health, agriculture, environment and debt and that such expertise should not go to waste.


“To be frank, the budget exercise in Congress, especially during the mother committee and sub-committee deliberations have often been reduced to parochial issues.  Policy questions, if at all raised, are sometimes even used, not to affect policy changes but to exact projects for a representative’s own district.  NGO participation might mitigate such practice and even provide some conscience in the whole budget exercise,”  Tañada added.


 “But if we are to be consistent with the constitutional provision of people’s participation at all levels of social, political and economic decision-making, NGO and PO involvement should even start from the Executive when they make the budget call.  After all, as some cynics would say, ‘tapos na halos ang boksing’ once the Executive submits the budget proposal.  Very little room for changes can be done by Congress,” Tañada emphatically said.


Tañada was part of a select group of legislators who pushed for an alternative budget last year, in cooperation with a group of NGOs led by Social Watch Philippines.



October 3, 2007


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