TAÑADA ON THE PASSED 2009 BUDGET: “INSTITUTIONS MUST BE STRENGTHENED, BICAM MUST BE OPEN”

Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, (LP, Quezon Province) expressed a lot of caution and called for vigilance in ensuring that whatever increases that were made whether through direct or indirect lobbying work by the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) or even at the initiative of legislators themselves are properly monitored and accounted for.

“My good friend, TG Guingona calls for budget reforms, but I think a key ingredient in his budget reform call is the strengthening of institutions for greater transparency and accountability. Indeed, the fear of throwing good money after bad is very real especially for departments heavily associated with corruption and even patronage politics. What with 2009 being a year prior to an election year. Yet it should not be grounds for totally depriving a public institution of much-needed funds for programs that directly address poverty both in the medium and long-term. I’m talking about important rural infrastructure, improved health care, quality textbooks and teacher re-training programs, and of course, funds for agrarian reform,” the legislator said.

Tañada is one of the authors of HB 5256 which aims to strengthen people’s participation in budget processes both at the national and local government levels.

“I believe that a key ingredient in strengthening institutions is people’s access to information. One aspect of that is for people to be given complete information on what the Executive, whether national or local, intends to do with the taxpayers’ money and be given a chance to participate effectively in the crafting of the same. Very seldom do you see LGUs posting their budget in the community bulletin board or their web site but I think that is an important step in showing good faith. After all, the only way people can effectively participate in decision-making processes such as the budget is if they have access to correct and timely information. In fact, the Bicam on the budget must be open as just as some legislators are calling for government witnesses to waive their right over bank secrecy, there should also be no secrecy in the Bicam,” Tañada said.

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