MANILA - A measure seeking the direct participation of the public in the national budget deliberation has been filed at the Senate.
Under Senate Bill 24, or the "People’s Participation in the National Budget Process Act of 2019," non-government organizations and professional and faith-based groups will be allowed to observe and participate as resource persons in congressional budget hearings.
They will also have access to documents such as copies of the agencies' budget proposals and could submit their own recommended spending plan.
Organizations who wish to apply for accreditation must provide a full disclosure of their sources of funds, and service contracts with state agencies, other NGOs, and private corporations that may result in a potential conflict of interest.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson authored the bill, and said it was "high-time" to "achieve a people-oriented budget as well as establish transparency and accountability in the budget process."
“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,” he said in a statement.
Lacson, during the deliberations of the 2019 national budget, had claimed lawmakers inserted "pork barrel" funds.
Wrangling among lawmakers over supposed insertions in the budget forced the government to run on a reenacted 2018 budget for nearly 4 months.