People's participation in budget deliberations readied for final reading in Lower House

Published July 11, 2021, 5:53 PM

by Ben Rosario

People’s participation in the congressional deliberations on the annual budget has been set for final reading approval in the House of Representatives when regular session resumes this month.

Rep. Rida Robes

San Jose del Monte City Rep. Florida “Rida” P. Robes lauded the support of the Lower House leadership for House Bill No. 7407 or “An Act Institutionalizing the Participation of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) in the Preparation and Authorization ZProcess of the Annual National Budget.”

Authored by Robes, the bill that seeks to institutionalize people’s participation in budget deliberations has been approved on second reading in the Lower Chamber.

She aired the optimism that HB 7407 bill will be passed on third and final soon.

Robes said the bill will be an important component in the budget process because it will make the process more transparent and participatory through the involvement of grassroot organizations in all aspects of the budget cycle.

“One of the critical aspects of the budget process that we are doing in Congress is to ensure its transparency and accountability,” Robes, chairperson of the House Committee on People’s Participation, said.

“Providing for a mechanism to ensure that people’s organizations participate in the process and give them a voice on how public funds will be spent is a giant step towards ensuring that the budget we pass in Congress is not only transparent, accountable but also inclusive and responsive to the needs of the people,” she said.

HB 7407 was co-authored by Reps. Rosanna Vergara (Nueva Ecija), Alfred Vargas (Quezon City), Yasser Alonto Balindong (Lanao Del Sur), Solomon Chungalao (Igugao), Macnell Lusotan (Marino Partylist), Gabriel Bordado (Camarines Sur) and Manuel Cabochan (Magdalo Partylist).

Under the bill accredited civil society organizations will be given a right to participate in the budget preparation of government agencies, including constitutional bodies and government-owned and controlled corporations, similar to the rights accorded to NGOs in local development councils.

They shall also be entitled to notices of hearings and receive budget documents as well submit their own alternative budget proposals or position papers. They shall also have the right to observe the budget deliberations including the bicameral conference committee meetings.

Congress will authorize them to participate as resource persons during budget deliberations.

To be entitled to this, people’s organizations need to be accredited by the respective offices which they intend to take part.

Any government officer who restrains any CSO from participating in the process will be penalized with a suspension ranging from one (1) month to six (6) months or a fine of P30,000 to P100,000 or both.