NAMFREL engages the DepEd, DILG & the DOH for the
2012 National Budget Preparation
by Eric Jude O. Alvia, NAMFREL Secretary General
March 28, 2011
NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.5
|The fresh mandate of the
Aquino government presents opportunities for civil society
organizations (CSO) and citizens groups to set its social
accountability agenda and help revitalize the advocacy for
good governance in the country. This opportunity calls for a
calibrated response, which can only be crafted if
like-minded advocates and champions of social accountability
come together and discuss the appropriate course of action.
Over the past few months, CSOs have been meeting and
coordinating efforts alongside counterpart government
agencies in budget advocacy towards contributing to reforms
in the country's public financial management. There has been
optimism noted and positive developments in terms of CSO
engagement and partnership with these agencies especially
with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Primarily, transparency in government is a cornerstone
policy that President Aquino has promised to uphold. With
President Aquino at the helm, the public sees a great
opportunity in making the budget more open to the public.
Specifically, the DBM has made an effort to widen public
access to government documents, starting with those on the
budget. Since late July 2010, the DBM has spearheaded this
effort by promising full transparency and active citizens’
participation in the budget preparation process. Recently,
it has issued National Budget
Memorandum No. 109 which sets guidelines for CSO
participation in the budget process.
The issuance has far-reaching implications than just
institutionalizing citizens’ participation. Budget
transparency empowers citizens and enables them to have a
buy-in on decisions being made by government. This along
with public participation can enhance the credibility of
policy choices and the effectiveness of policy
interventions. The absence or lack of it can lead to
the selection of unpopular and inappropriate programs, and
corrupt and wasteful spending. For that purpose, NAMFREL-Bantay
ng Bayan Foundation Inc. (NAMFREL) and other civil society
and citizens groups have convened and committed to engage
the DBM and select government agencies in crafting the FY
In mid-February 2011, in line with the DBM’s invitation for
citizens groups to participate in the FY 2012 budget
preparation process, NAMFREL signified its intention to
participate in the DBM, Department of Education’s (DepEd),
Department of Health’s (DOH), Department of Public Works and
Highways’s (DPWH) effort in preparing the fiscal year (FY)
2012 national budget.
NAMFREL is no stranger to good governance monitoring work
such as this. Since the late 1980’s various NAMFREL
provincial chapters in Abra and in the Bicol region have
participated in project contract monitoring and as members
of the bids and awards committee of their regional DPWH.
Currently, NAMFREL is expanding its participation to include
the monitoring of major infrastructure projects where it has
a regional and local presence.
NAMFREL has also partnered with government agencies
responsible for the delivery of basic services such as
education and health. In 2003, it entered into a partnership
with the DepEd as a civil society consortium member for the
text book count monitoring (Text Book Count 1 to 5)
conducting national warehouse inspections and delivery
monitoring in the district school and high school levels.
Since 2007, NAMFREL has provided resource persons to conduct
trainings for the Text Book Walk (delivery from district
school to elementary school). Last year, NAMFREL commenced
participation as observers in monitoring the proceedings of
the departments' Bids and Awards Committees.
In partnership with the DOH since 2004, NAMFREL volunteer
observers have been deployed in monitoring ten out of 17
Center for Health Development and 54 out of 71 Retained
Hospital level nationwide on the full cycle of procurement,
contract implementation (inspection & acceptance) for drugs
and medicines, and participation in the departments national
& regional Integrity Development Councils.
To complete and fully complement these activities, NAMFREL
saw it fit to participate in evaluating as well as providing
inputs to the DBM, DOH, DILG, and DepEd’s adoption of a zero
–based budgeting for FY 2012. Since the budget process is a
cycle, it intends to engage these select government agencies
on all aspects from budget preparation, legislation,
execution and monitoring and evaluation.
But beyond improving access to key budget documents as well
as providing greater opportunities for the public to
participate, other ways in which the Philippine budget
process can be made more open and responsive include:
ensuring the existence of an independent and strength of
legislative and audit institutions such as the Congress and
the Commission on Audit (COA).
As of this writing, local NAMFREL chapters have participated
in seven (Regions 3, 6,7, 8, 11, & NCR) DOH and DepEd
national’s budget consultations. It has expressed its
commitment to engage with these select government agencies
in the national budget process, to achieve budgetary
efficiency and enhance the impact of public expenditure in
reducing poverty and improving each Filipinos quality of