Bill on transparency in budget discussions hailed

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/08 June) — An anti-corruption advocate in North Cotabato has hailed Senator Teofisto Guingona III’s proposal to include representatives from the civil society groups in budget deliberations.

Guingona has filed Senate Bill No. 2186 or the “People’s Participation in Budget Deliberations Act of 2010,” which seeks to draw wider people’s participation in the budget process.

Vilma Gonzales, secretary-general of the Watchful Advocates for Transparency, Clean, and Honest Governance (Watch) in Kidapawan City, said Guingona’s proposal would provide a venue for better transparency in the government.

“There is fair and equitable distribution of public funds. And we can be sure that the most needy will get enough funds, said Gonzales.

She said corruption in the government could start in budget preparation.

Gonzales, along with other Watch members, completed on Monday an advanced training on transparency and anti-corruption reporting for journalists and civil society organizations given by the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) in a hotel here.

The Watch Kidapawan is the first media-CSO anti-corruption watchdog, which PPTRP helped develop to monitor and report on transparency and accountability in government projects in Kidapawan City.

Guingona has called on the country’s civil society organizations to rally behind his bill.

The senator said that people’s active participation would give “life and meaning” to transparency in the allocation and use of public funds.

His bill would make it mandatory for government agencies to involve NGOs, civic groups and other people’s organizations in the budget preparation process.

“This active participation also underscores that the financial resources that become part of national budget actually belong to the people,” stressed Guingona.

While still a congressman representing the 2nd district of Bukidnon, Guingona filed a resolution which enabled NGOs and civil society groups to participate in the budget deliberations of Congress. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)