‘P15-B ASEAN summit budget should have gone to the poor’ – Kadamay

Raisa Serafica
‘P15-B ASEAN summit budget should have gone to the poor’ – Kadamay
Militant group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap says the P15-billion budget for the ASEAN summit could have been used to provide basic social services for the poor

MANILA, Philippines – An urban poor group on Friday, November 10, questioned the P15.5-billion ($292 million) budget of this year’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings hosted by the Philippine government.

Militant group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) slammed the huge amount that the government has set aside for the regional meeting during a protest rally at the “Homeless Camp” in Mendiola on Friday, November 10.

Kadamay is among the many groups that staged a series of protests ahead of the gathering of  ASEAN leaders and their dialogue partners, as well as the region’s senior offcials, for the 31st ASEAN summit in the country.

‘Overkill preparations’

The government has put aside an estimated budget of P15 billion ($321.92 million) budget for the country’s hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. According to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, a bulk of the budget will go to car rentals for visiting dignitaries.

Kadamay described the country’s preparation for the ASEAN Summit as an “overkill,” adding that taxpayers’ money could have been used for poor Filipino families, like those whose homes have been demolished at the East Bank Road in Floodway, Pasig City, and who are now camping out at the Homeless Camp in Mendiola.

“We highly condemn this outmost display of insensitivity and impracticality from our government. President Duterte is clearly impressing Trump and other ASEAN leaders by spending lavishly while not giving enough services and support to his own people,” Kadamay spokesperson Cecil Cali said.

Instead of spending the huge amount for the ASEAN preparations, Cali said that the budget could have improved basic social services for the poor.

BASIC SOCIAL SERVICES. According to Kadamay, the P15.5 billion budget for the ASEAN summit could fund the creating of 34,444 low-cost housing or send 55,357 high school students and 77,5000 college students to school. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

Education and housing

According to Kadamay, the P15-billion budget for ASEAN could have been used to for the following:

  • Provide average low-cost housing to 34,444 beneficiaries
  • Provide free secondary education over 6 years to 55,357 high school students
  • Fund free tertiary education for 4 years to 77,500 Filipino college students

Independent think-tank IBON foundation said in a study that an average low-cost housing unit  costs P450,000.

Kadamay computed the number of potential high school beneficiaries from the ASEAN summit budget, based on its estimated that every public high school student, from Grades 7 to 10, spends at least P30,000 every year. Junior and senior high school students need P160,000 annually to continue their education.

On the same day, youth groups like Anakbayan marched to the US embassy to protest the scheduled arrival of US President Donald Trump for the ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings.

The Philippine government deployed around 60,000 security personnel for the international event. 

Here are some photos from the ASEAN Summit-related protests on Friday:

ASEAN PROTESTS. On November 10, 2017, militant groups stage a series of protests ahead of the ASEAN Summit.

NO TO US. Militant groups burn a US flag as a sign of protest against the scheduled visit of US President Donald Trump to the country. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

NOT WELCOME. Ahead of the gathering of world leaders in Metro Manila for the ASEAN summit, militant groups stage a series of protests on November 10, 2017. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

– Rappler.com 

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Raisa Serafica

Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.