Wary that much-needed social services will suffer anew under a reenacted budget, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson urged his colleagues in both houses of Congress to lose no time in scheduling bicameral conference committee meetings on the P1.41-trillion budget for 2009.
Noting the New Year is already two weeks old, Lacson also stressed that the bicameral conference committee meetings should be transparent and thorough, with all details of “insertions” open to media and the public.
“Lest we operate again on a reenacted budget, we must take steps to ensure the early signing of the national budget into law. Not only that, the entire process must be transparent so the public will know where their taxes go,” he said.
He noted that at present, the government is operating on the automatically reenacted budget of 2008, which amounts to P1.227 trillion. This may force agencies involved in social services to scrimp on much-needed services, he said.
Lacson urged his fellow lawmakers to fulfill their responsibility to participate actively and ensure transparency in the bicameral conference committee meeting.
It will be recalled that in its first meeting on the budget in December last year, the bicameral conference committee unanimously adopted Lacson’s motion to make sure the proceedings will not be kept from the public.
“This motion should be strictly followed. Who made the insertions, how much was involved, what are the purposes of these insertions, and where will they be sourced from? All these should be made public in the name of transparency to avoid a repetition of the P200-million ‘road to nowhere’ mess,” he added.
He said people will not tolerate a repeat of the “double entry” anomalies that were found in the national budget for 2008, where multimillion-peso entries were allotted more than once to particular items or projects.