Vote buying starts
Friday, 15 January 2016 00:00
Published at The Daily Tribune Online
The BuB has been repackaged as an LP campaign tool with Abad promising P1 million in BuB for each barangay starting next year.
That’s a total P42 billion committed to the 42,036 barangays in the country.
Of course, it does not need Abad to explain that the P1 million for each barangay commitment requires that LP bet Mar Roxas becomes president since the BuB program is a “daang matuwid” undertaking.
Other candidates would likely review the program since it is considered a revival of the infamous DAP that the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 as having been unconstitutionally created.
Abad said just last week that the BuB which now covers select provinces or municipalities, will be expanded to cover all barangays with a caveat that the release of the amount will be in tranches but starting next year.
The Barangay BuB is supposedly a subsidy of P1 million to each barangay to be used for the implementation of one to two identified projects.
Abad said the program aims to aid barangays in better formulating poverty reduction schemes and monitoring the delivery of basic services in the communities.
Abad said under the expanded BuB, the first 12,000 barangays will receive funding from the national government in 2017 and would be released through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the agency which Roxas used to head.
Abad said that the DILG has started national consultations with barangay captains to engage them in the discussion of the rationale, objectives, and mechanics of the Barangay BuB.
The current head of the DILG is Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, the LP secretary general. Sarmiento, for his part, claimed the expansion of the BuB was the result of the clamor of various associations of barangay councils (ABCs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP).
The ULAP National Executive Board, on behalf of its member leagues, local government units, and elected officials, passed a resolution to institutionalize BuB at the barangay level and adopted the recommendation from the leagues for the implementing guidelines of the BuB. Who wouldn’t vote in favor of P1 million in additional funds yearly?
Sarmiento said the project seeks to improve governance by enabling barangays to implement projects which they have identified and prioritized through a process of citizen participation.
To be part of the BuB program, each barangay league’s city and municipal president must “orient” all punong barangays or barangay chairmen within their area of jurisdiction on the Barangay BuB before the end of this month, or a few days before the official of the campaign period for national candidates.
For this year, 14,325 local poverty reduction projects have been allocated P24.7 billion from P8 billion in 2013 for projects identified in 595 cities and municipalities under BuB.
It was Sarmiento who had admitted the BuB, which was renamed Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) as a budget item, was meant to “cure” the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court on the DAP in funding unprogrammed projects.
Sarmiento, however, insisted the BuB is not a DAP clone. “The GPB, instead, enables Congress and citizens to better scrutinize the government’s spending plan and can hold departments and agencies accountable for their performance,” Sarmiento said.
Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, however, saw the BuB as a measure to make local government units prone to patronage.
“Local authorities should be able to chart their own future for their own local constituencies. They should not be dependent on central government officials, like the Secretary of Interior and Local Government,” he said.
What else is a promise of P1 million in funding to every barangay than a veritable vote buying scheme.