SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House committee on people’s participation has approved a substitute bill seeking to institutionalize people’s participation in budget deliberation at the national and local levels of government, hence making the budgeting process more participatory through involvement of grassroots organizations.
The unnumbered substitute bill aims to allow the exercise of the people’s right to participate in public decision-making and in the process, enhance accountability in the use of taxpayers’ money and in local public service provision.
The bill also known as the proposed “Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Act of 2017” substituted House Bills 191, 3862, 3429 and 1388.
It is authored by Reps. Anthony M. Bravo, Sabiniano S. Canama, Kaka J. Bag-ao, Tomasito S. Villarin, Ramon Vicente Rocamora, Alfredo D. Vargas III, Rodel M. Batocabe, Nancy A. Catamco , Henedina R. Abad, Florida P. Robes, Glona G. Labadlabad, Winston Castelo, Teodoro G. Montoro, Sitti Djalia A. Turrabin-Hataman, Ma. Lourdes Acosta-Alba, Shernee Abubakar Tan, Carlos Isagani T. Zarate, Lawrence H. Fortun, Jorge Banal, Sherwin N. Tugna, Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza and Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez. Bag-ao chaired the committee which approved the bill.
The bill declares it is the State policy to recognize the role of independent civil society organizations (CSOs) as effective participants in all levels of social, political, and economic decision-making. Moreover, the State respects their right to pursue and protect “within the democratic framework, their legitimate and collective interests and aspirations through peaceful and lawful means,” as provided in Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution.
For this purpose, the State shall guarantee the participation of CSOs in the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of the national and local budgets. This will ensure that the annual appropriations will be instruments of development and reflective of national and local objectives, strategies and plans and shall institutionalize the participatory budget process in the identification and planning of programs and projects that will be funded by the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
To ensure that the annual appropriations of the national government agencies (NGAs) will be an instrument of development and reflective of local objectives, strategies and plans, the State shall ensure the involvement of the CSOs by institutionalizing grassroots participatory budgeting.
This initiative aims to achieve community empowerment by encouraging citizens to take active roles in the community by articulating their needs to the government and determining what projects are responsive to their needs.
The process will also stimulate partnership between local government and civil society organizations particularly in local development planning and budgeting. The local development plans are harmonized at the pertinent national government agencies’ programs and budgets for implementation.
The bill refers to Civil Society Organization (CSO) as “any organized citizens’ group including Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), People’s Organizations (POs), basic sector organizations, cooperatives, trade unions, professional associations, faith-based organizations, media groups, indigenous peoples movements, foundations, and other citizen’s groups which are non-profit and are formed primarily for social and economic development to plan and monitor government programs and projects, engage in policy discussions, and actively participate in collaborative activities with the government.”
It refers to Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) as “an approach to preparing the budget proposal of agencies taking into consideration the development needs of municipalities and cities as identified in their respective local development plan and or local anti-poverty action plan that shall be formulated with strong participation of basic sector organizations and other CSOs.”
All CSOs shall be allowed to participate and play a significant role in the national as well as local annual budget deliberations. They shall undergo the mandatory registration process and comply with the implementing rules and regulations issued by Local Sanggunians and/ or NGAs, subject to the basic requirements under the Act.
Within 30 days upon the approval of the Act, the respective Secretaries of the local Sanggunian shall send notices to CSOs informing them that they may apply for a Certificate of Registration to enable them to participate in the annual budget deliberations. The application for registration shall be filed with the Secretary to the local Sanggunian.
All applications for Certificate of Registration shall be acted upon by the Secretary to the local Sanggunian within 15 days from receipt thereof. Upon approval of the application, a Certificate of Registration shall be issued to the organization which shall be valid for three years upon approval. In case of disapproval, the CSO concerned may appeal its application.
The bill also provides for guidelines in choosing the representatives for registered and/or accredited CSOs and cancellation of certificate of registration, and the rights and entitlements of accredited CSOs, among others.
In order for citizens to participate in an informed manner, the bill mandates the LGU/NGA/Government-Owned or Controlled Corporation (GOCC) to post on the websites or other public posting areas Local Poverty Reduction Action Plan (LPRAP) and budget documents to which CSOs shall have access.
The following processes shall serve as the main components to implement the empowerment of CSOs and budgeting approach: 1) Social preparation; 2) Collection of relevant economic and social data; 3) Conduct of LPRAP Workshop; 4) Identification of priority poverty reduction projects; 5) Endorsement of CSOs; 6) Approval of Sanggunian; 7) Submission of the List of Priority Poverty Reduction Projects; 8) Integration of the LGU projects in the budgets of participating NGAs; 9) Agency budget submission to DBM; and 10) Provision of incentives for good performers.
The Local Poverty Reduction Action Team (LPRAT) shall be created to spearhead the formulation and monitoring of the LPRAP.
The LPRAT shall be headed by the local chief executive (LCE) of the city or municipality as Chairperson, and the CSO representative elected by the CSO assembly as the Co-chairperson.
The Regional Poverty Reduction Action Team (RPRAT) shall likewise be created to provide support and guidance to LPRAT throughout the GPB process and make decisions on implementation issues raised at the regional level. It shall be headed by the DILG Regional Director as Chairperson and the NAPC representative and CSO representative as Vice-Chairpersons.
The bill also mandates the creation of the National Poverty Reduction Action Team (NPRAT) which shall serve as the highest policy-making and coordinating body where policies and implementation issues can be discussed and addressed.
It also establishes a budget item known as “Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process Fund” in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) in an amount not less than one percent of the total annual budget.
Moreover, it mandates the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), DBM, and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), in consultation with the concerned agencies and CSOs, to promulgate the rules and regulations necessary for the implementation of the Act.
Lastly, the bill penalizes any person who shall violate the provisions of the Act with suspension ranging from one month to three months, or a fine of P30,000 to P50,000, or both, at the discretion of the court. / RBB