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3 May 2010 No Comment

November 9, 2010



The House of Representatives last night approved the General Appropriations Act of 2011 (House Bill 3101) on third reading, despite calls made by several Representatives to defer voting to allow for discussion of amendments proposed by the House leadership. ACT Teachers Party-List and other progressive groups denounced this railroading of the national budget, explaining that such a move violated the principle of transparency.


ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio condemned the fact that the P1.645-T budget was reached without even discussing the amendments proposed during recess.


“Interpellation and discussion are crucial to budget proceedings. With the majority railroading HB 3101, the Aquino administration proved to be no different from the Arroyo regime,” said Tinio.


Rep. Tinio joined 20 other legislators in voting against the budget, which was approved with 175 votes on third reading.


Contentious provisions publicized during the budget hearings at the committee level and during the plenary still abound in next year’s budget. Debt servicing proved to be top priority (including P 357 B for interest payments), while dubious allocations and dole-out schemes dominate public expenditures.


The P34.1 B earmarked for the Department of Social Welfare and Development contains P21.9 B for the controversial Conditional Cash Transfer program. In contrast, state colleges and universities are only given P24.3 B. While the Department of National Defense is given P104.7 B and the President has P 650 M for the Confidential Intelligence Fund, specialty hospitals will only receive P 970 M.


“Funds for essential social services like health and education will continue to be scarce. When government is not willing to fund our schools and teachers, we can’t expect any real progress for 2011,” concluded Tinio.  Allocations which are susceptible to corruption, misuse, and conversion such as the Special Purpose Funds and lump sum amounts (P 15 B for the Public-Private Partnership Strategic Support Funds for the Departments of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform and NEDA, among others) are also featured in the Aquino budget.


With a budget no different from the Arroyo administration, Rep. Tinio adds, Filipinos cannot expect real reform and transparency from the Aquino administration, whose electoral victory hinged on promises of a “daang matuwid” and “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”  ###



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