Roxas wants P100B 'Walang Iwanan' fund for LGU, barangay projects

MANILA, Philippines – It’s bottom-up budgeting on “steroids.”

Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas on Monday, November 30, made a pitch to expand an existing government budgeting program which allows civil society and local government units to pick projects they want funded through the national budget.

Roxas called it the “Walang Iwanan (Nobody Gets Left Behind) Fund,” a P100-billion (US$2.12 billion)* program that all municipalities and urban barangays (villages) in the country can tap to fund projects and programs that Roxas said would push for progress.

Speaking before a crowd of yellow-clad supporters in Payatas, Quezon City, Roxas said the fund would empower residents to improve their own community.

Kung nais ng mga kababayan natin dito, aba, paramihin natin itong mga Bistekville na ito. Kailangan ng pondo pambili ng lupa. Kailangan ng pondo pagpapatayo ng imprastraktura, yung mga drainage, yung mga sewage, yung kuryente, malinis na tubig, kung ano pa. Diyan gagastusin iyan,” he said.

(If our citizens want to be here, then let's replicate Bistekville. We need funds to buy land, funds for infrastructure, for drainage, for sewage, for electricity, clean water, whatever it is you need. That’s how the money will be used.)

The fund, however, is not part of the 2016 budget which is set to be passed by Congress but is among the promises of Roxas and his running mate, Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo.

Roxas said the fund could still be sourced from savings from the current proposed 2016 budget, but it will be more “realistically” part of a 2017 budget, should he be elected president in 2016.

According to the Budget Department, the BUB was allocated P20.9 billion (US$ 443 million) in 2015, to cover 1,590 municipalities and cities. In the proposed 2016 budget, some P24.7 billion (US$ 524 million) has been set aside.

“Bottom-up budgeting” is a program already in place under the Aquino administration, where local groups usually led by civic society organizations, consult with the community and eventually pick from a list of projects to implement.

Third-party checks are done through another program under the government, where the local religious groups verify the progress of those projects.

Kaya ito ang patunay, ito ang patunay na nandito tayo, hindi lamang sa photo-op. Hindi lamang dahil sa ribbon-cutting. Nandito tayo para magbigay pagkilala na hindi pa tapos ang ating laban. Marami pa ang nangangailangan ng tulong lalung-lalo na ang mga nasa laylayan,” said Roxas, whose campaign is rooted on the promise of continuity.

(This is proof that I’m not here merely for photo-ops. I’m not here just for the ribbon-cutting. We’re here to recognize that our fight is not yet over. There are a lot of things that need to be done, especially those on the fringes of society.)

The P100-billion computation allocates P1,000 for each person in the 100 million-strong Philippines, Roxas would later tell reporters in a chance interview.

"Isa ito sa mga paraan na makakasiguro tayo na inclusive ang growth dahil hindi lang ito yung magandang pamamahala sa nasyunal at aantaying dumating ang kaunlaran sa bawa't bayan, barangay, at sitio, pero sa pamamagitan nito ay mayroon na ring rekta o kumbaga affirmative action at the local level kung saan sila mismo ang makakasiguro ng kanilang kaunlaran," added Roxas. 

(This is one way to ensure inclusive growth because it's not a situation where there's good governance at the national level and each town, village, sitio merely waits for progress to reach them but through this, we make sure there's affirmative action at the local level where they themselves ensure there's progress.) 

Consultative and inclusive governance are among the promises of the current government, the Roxas-Robredo ticket, and the ruling Liberal Party.

Robredo, in particular, is associated with her late husband Jesse Robredo’s brand of “tsinelas leadership” or inclusive governance when he was mayor of Naga.

But the Aquino administration’s BUB or Grassroots Participatory Budget Process has also been hit by critics, who say the distribution of funds has been “biased.” (READ: Binay, Marcos grill DILG over mandate, big-budget programs)

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who is also running for vice president in 2016, once tagged the BUB process as “restrictive and conditional.” – Rappler.com

*US$1 = P47.13