Sunday, November 16, 2008


Below is the vote of Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros on HB 5116, the National Budget for 2009. A total of 160 legislators voted in favor of the bill, 16 voted against it, and one abstained. Rep. Hontiveros voted No to the bill.

Mr. Speaker, AKBAYAN engaged in the process. We submitted several amendments to the 2009 General Appropriations Bill, among them:

A special provision in the DPWH budget to require the conduct of feasibility studies for all locally funded projects to prevent corruption
A special provision in the DPWH budget so that NO appropriation would be allocated to projects with less than 15% economic internal rate of return (EIRR) to prevent wastage in the use of public works funds.
A cut in DPWH's budget by P64.7 billion due to its failure to account for billions of missing funds
A total of P1.1 billion additional appropriation for the Department of Health, for the following programs: subsidies to indigent patients (P133 million); epidemiology and disease surveillance (P553 million); Family Health, including family planning (P470 million)
The appropriation of funds for the implementation of the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers (P1.3 billion)
A special provision in the budget of the Department of Agrarian Reform to ensure that the budget for Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) would not be subject to reallocation
Additional budget for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST): an additional appropriation for the Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers, and other S & T government personnel (P441 million); Payment of P5.7 million for the Night Time Differential of PAG-ASA employees and P3 million for PHILVOLCS employees.
Additional budget for the Commission on Audit to the amount of P152 million
Additional budget for the Commission on Human Rights to the amount of P284 million
Inclusion of several special provisions on debt appropriation, specifically to restrict the use of government funds on the following: the onerous Austrian Medical Waste Incinerator Project; on the interest payments to loan agreements challenged as fraudulent, anomalous, and wasteful, and; on payment for accounts payable accruing in the previous fiscal years unless fully liquidated according to existing COA guidelines.
Tighter guidelines in the release of lump sum funds, including the Kilos Asenso fund, to ensure compliance to the NEDA-ICC policy on NG-LGU Cost Sharing Policy

Mr. Speaker, we did not receive the courtesy of reply on these proposed amendments. There was no transparency. We don't know what happened to the amendments we painstakingly worked on with the help of civil society partners.

This is exactly the environment that breeds corruption, and this being the de facto election budget, we won't be surprised if this budget only goes to the pockets of corrupt officials.
By not allowing members of the House to scrutinize the budget, voting for this budget is a vote to erode the integrity of Congress as an institution.

AKBAYAN is deeply frustrated with the outcome and the shortcutting of an already abbreviated process. The House has denied itself an opportunity to achieve greater bi-partisan consensus on the budget based on amendments submitted in the spirit of recovering Congress' power of the purse and the spirit of fiscal democracy.

Mr. Speaker, I therefore vote No to HB 5116.

No comments: