Under a Lacson presidency, the national budget will become a true “People’s Budget” as ordinary taxpayers will be encouraged to play a bigger role in crafting it.
Partido Reporma standard-bearer Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson said this will prevent public funds from being stolen or misappropriated by the “thieves in government.”
“Kumpleto ang consultation para matugunan ang pangangailangan at prayoridad. (This will enhance the consultations, and address the needs and priorities especially of the local government units),” Lacson said in an interview on DZRH radio Saturday.
“It is high time ordinary Filipinos take part in such a process by taking part in budget hearings at the local level. Dapat makialam sila dahil pera nila ito (They should participate actively because this is their money),” he added.
Lacson, who as senator earned a reputation as an eagle-eyed watchdog of the national budget, envisions civil society groups and non-government organizations being accredited to represent Filipino taxpayers and take part in the deliberation of the budget at the local level as resource persons – before the proposed budget is elevated to the city or municipal council.
In 2019, he filed a bill institutionalizing the direct participation of taxpayers in the budget process, where accredited NGOs and CSOs can take part in the budget deliberation.
Under the bill, accredited NGOs and CSOs can observe public consultations and submit position papers for the consideration of the national government agencies or government-owned and controlled corporations.
Should he win the May 9 presidential elections, Lacson will ask Congress to institutionalize this by way of legislation.
He said this will prevent a repeat of “sob stories” where local officials who ask for roads get road widening projects without the actual main roads being built – all because of a lack of consultation with local residents.
“This, aside from a zero-budget setup where agencies defend their proposed programs and activities instead of working with a budget ceiling, will make the budget truly work for the people,” Lacson said.