07, 2013

NR # 3249

Solons want consultations for districts and sectors to facilitate fund allocation for social services
Lawmakers have filed a resolution seeking to institute consultations for the congressional districts and sectors to facilitate fund allocation for social services while ensuring stakeholder participation, transparency and equal distribution in the use of public funds. According to House Resolution 236, which is authored by Reps. Maria Leonor Robredo (3 District, Camarines Sur), Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao (Lone District, Dinagat Islands), Teddy Baguilat, Jr. (Lone District, Ifugao), Jorge Banal, Jr. (3 rd District, Quezon City) and Henedina Abad (Lone District, Batanes), a more broad-based participatory process in project prioritization and selection is critical, and should ensure it will only fund projects that will bring the greatest good to the greatest number.

The resolution cited that the power to allocate funds by House members to their districts or sectors has been declared constitutional in the case of Philconsa vs. Enriquez, that was upheld in later cases. In the particular case, the Supreme Court held that “The authority given to the members of Congress is only to propose and identify projects to be implemented by the President. Under Article XLI of the GAA of 1994, the President must perforce examine whether the proposals submitted by members of Congress fall within the specific items of expenditures for which the Fund was set up, and if qualified, he next determines whether they are in line with other projects planned for the locality. Thereafter, if the proposed projects qualify for funding under the Funds, it is the President who shall implement them. In short, the proposals and identifications made by the members of Congress are merely recommendatory.” The resolution further cited that projects essential to the development of a locality that are not normally included in the budget of line agencies continue to be supported by government funding such as scholarships, medical assistance, livelihood, assistance to indigents in crisis situations, community centers, and others. The resolution stressed the need to guarantee equal distribution of government resources for district level development initiatives that can be facilitated by a district representative who presumably knows the needs of the grassroots, and the appropriate programs and projects to be implemented. “A more broad-based participatory process in project prioritization and selection is therefore critical, and there is a need to ensure that it will only fund projects that will bring the greatest good to the greatest number,” the resolution stated. The resolution cited President Benigno Aquino III’s recent directive to find a better way to ensure that the public coffers will be spent with only the public’s benefit in mind. The President had told lawmakers earlier “Now, we will create a new mechanism to address the needs of your

constituents and sector, in a manner that is transparent, methodical and rational, and not susceptible to abuse or corruption.” The resolution provides for seven guidelines to facilitate fund allocation for the delivery of social services while ensuring stakeholder participation, transparency and equitable distribution in the use of public funds. First, it provides that the district representative shall conduct consultations involving but not limited to local officials such as Mayors and Punong Barangays, representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs), representative from the provincial government, Provincial Board Members representing the district, and representatives from various Liga in the district. Second, the resolution provides the role of the district representative is to facilitate the finalization of the priority projects identified during the consultations, having as primary basis, the ranking made as a result of the consultations conducted, subject to the guidelines of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The district representative shall ensure the allocation of the funds reflect the priorities during the consultation. Third guideline is that after the preparation of the list of priority development projects generated from the consultation, the district representatives shall convene their respective regional line agencies for inclusion of the priority projects identified in the line item budget of the appropriate agency. Fourth is that the district representatives shall facilitate the endorsement of the identified projects to the departments, specifically responsible for the same. The priority projects shall then be earmarked in the respective departments’ budget, with the pertinent legislative districts specifically indicated therein. Fifth is that a special provision shall also be made for party-list representatives which do not have district constituents. The members of the party-list groups shall serve the constituents for their sectoral consultations, which shall follow the same processes used by the district representatives in the identification of priority projects. However, instead of convening the regional line agencies, the party-list representatives shall endorse their lists of priority projects to the DBM for earmarking in the national budget. Sixth, in the interim, for the implementation of the lump sum allocation in the 2013 GAA and considering that the proposed 2014 budget has already been submitted to Congress, the district representative shall directly submit to the Committee on Appropriations the prepared list of priority projects resulting from the consultation conducted. Seventh, the consultations in the preparation of succeeding budgets shall include a report on the use of funds allocated for the priority projects identified. (30) rbb

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