PhP 1-B Envi gains in 2013 National Budget Hailed; More Allocations in 2014 Eyed

OVER ONE billion pesos in the 2013 General Appropriations Act were earmarked for environment-related undertakings as a result of dialogues by citizens’ groups with the government, and more allocations are expected in the 2014 national budget by utilizing participatory budgeting process.

This was noted today by development organization La Liga Policy Institute, convening organization of the Environment Cluster of Social Watch Philippines - Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI), a consortium of 60 citizens’ groups including non-government organizations and individual advocates crafting and pushing alternative budget proposals aimed at increasing social spending for marginalized sectors and concerns.

“The ABI Envi Cluster held several dialogues with, among others, the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources and of Budget and Management as well as the House of Representatives and the Senate, and pushed proposals on environment management and protection addressing climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and management, and related measures, and a significant number of these proposals were adopted and integrated in the 2013 GAA signed by President Noynoy Aquino last December,” said La Liga President and Managing Director Roland Cabigas.

“The Cluster’s efforts resulted to a total of PhP 1.07 billion pesos in budget gains for the environment in the 2013 GAA including those for increased funding for environment education/information dissemination; development/rehabilitation of protected areas; community-based forestry; soil conservation; watershed management; and the National Greening Program (NGP) especially for development and establishment of Clonal Nursery and Production of Quality Planting Materials of Premium and Indigenous Forest Species; and establishment of the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) which is a direct access fund for climate change adaptation initiatives of local governments, NGOs and people’s organizations.”

Cabigas likewise underscored the meaningful and fruitful bottom-up, participatory budgeting process employed in crafting the 2013 GAA, in which the ABI Envi Cluster was accredited as a DENR partner. The Cluster is likewise monitoring and ensuring the full utilization of said allocations.

The preparation of the 2014 budget is now underway, leading to, as per tradition, the President’s submission of the proposed national budget to the legislature during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July, also the resumption of Congress’ session.

“We thus call on the DENR, especially Secretary Ramon Paje, to set in motion a new round of dialogues/consultations with citizens’ groups in crafting next year’s national budget,” Cabigas concluded.

ABI Envi Cluster members include: La Liga, Alyansa Tigil Mina, AMRSP-JPICC, Earth Savers Movement, EcoWaste Coalition, First Philippine Conservation Incorporated (FPCI), Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), Haribon Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, Healthcare without Borders, Kilusan Para sa Makatarungang Lipunan at Gobyerno (KMLG), No-Burn Coalition, KAAKBAY, Partido Kalikasan Institute (PKI), Partnership for Clean Air (PCA), Phil. Federation for Environmental Concerns (PFEC), Phil. Network on Climate Change (PNCC), Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), Saganang Buhay sa Liga ng Bayan Foundation (SBSB), Sustainability Watch, Upholding Life and Nature (ULAN) and Tanggol Kalikasan.

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