Advocacy Groups Gear Up for First DENR-Citizens Budget Consultation

GROUPS ADVOCATING for increased allocation and effective use of government funds for sustainable environmental management are eagerly readying their inputs to the proposed 2013 budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the first budget dialogue between DENR and citizens’ groups on July 16 at the agency’s head office in Quezon City.


Dubbed as “Citizen’s Consultation on DENR’s Proposed 2013 Budget,” the activity is spearheaded jointly by DENR and policy think tank La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga). Co-sponsoring the event are leading budget advocacy networks Social Watch Philippines (SWP) and the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI), both headed by former National Treasurer, Professor Leonor Briones.

DENR earlier signed a budget partnership agreement (BPA) with SWP that aims to enhance citizen participation in the budget process.

Among the highlights of the July 16 consultation will be the presentation of DENR’s proposed 2013 budget by the agency’s national executive committee headed by Secretary Ramon Paje and supported by all its bureau chiefs, and the Budget Dialogue with invited NGOs, people’s organizations, academic institutions, LGU leagues and alliances, private sector and concerned individuals who all vowed to put forward key environment-related items during the consultation.

“We welcome the DENR’s effort, under Secretary Ramon Paje’s leadership, to start opening up the DENR’s budget process as a concrete response by the Aquino administration to calls for participatory budgeting process through which people and their organizations can provide recommendations on matters affecting them, in this case, environmental concerns,” La Liga Managing Director Roland Cabigas said.

La Liga, since 2006, has been underscoring the need for reforms in government budgeting such as improving its priorities and on effective budget utilization, monitoring and tracking especially with regard to making the national budget “climate sensitive”.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has stressed that the Aquino administration is committed to “ensuring and institutionalizing citizens’ participation in the budget process in the bureaucracy starting with the preparation stage at the department-level.”

In 2011, the DBM issued National Budget Memorandum number 109 providing the guidelines for participatory budgeting process for fiscal year 2012 on “a pilot basis” in six national government agencies (NGAs) primarily the agriculture, education and health sectors together with three Government-Owned and/or -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs).

Early this year, it also issued National Budget Circular (NBC) number 536 expanding the list of agencies to be covered by participatory budgeting process for FY 2013 to include, among others, the DENR.

The proposed budget of DENR for 2013 is around 24 billion pesos, which is roughly equivalent to 1.5 percent of the total proposed national government budget for 2013.

According to Cabigas, “The consultation aims to provide a venue to gather inputs and recommendations and for consensus building towards improving budget allocations for the environment and natural resources sector and funding specific projects and activities.”

“While the consultation will primarily focus on the 2013 DENR budget, the inputs and recommendations to be generated during the activity may also serve future budget engagement reforms as part of DENR’s continuing effort to making its budget more responsive to evolving environment conditions,” he added.

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