Strengthening Philippine Budget Network Engagement Towards Transparent, Accountable and Participatory Philippine Public Financial Management
Democratic Governance is anchored on the principles of transparency, accountability and the active and informed participation of a nation’s citizenry. For countries undertaking key reform initiatives especially those that require broad societal effort, success of these reforms will depend on these three pillars.
In the Philippines, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was elected into office this year by a majority vote on a campaign slogan of “Kung Walang Korupt, Walang Mahirap” (No corruption, No poverty). This strong emphasis on governance as a key reform arena has to be translated into the bureaucracy’s language if it is to be realized. A principal tool is the Philippine National Budget. He defined the main directions of his reform thrusts in a social contract with the Filipino people shaping the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan for 2011-2016. For this administration’s key reforms of poverty alleviation, basic education, universal health coverage, agriculture and public-private partnerships for growth, increased budgetary allocation is reflected in the 2011 General Appropriations Act passed by the bicameral conference committee and slated to be signed by the President before yearend.
The president went further and directed national government agencies to designate focal persons to coordinate and institutionalize mechanisms for civil society participation and cooperation with government. In his Budget Message for 2010, he specifically cited the urgent need for CSOs to effectively engage the planning and budgeting processes.
These openings for public financial management reform have to be accompanied and matched on the demand side by equally capacitated and committed CSOs. Under INCITEGov’s Philippine National Budget Monitoring Project (or PNBMP Phase I), fourteen (14) institutions interested in budget monitoring bonded together into an informal Budget Network. Some members of the network (or NETWORK) monitored specific agency budgets. Together with monitoring activities of the NETWORK, five (5) short papers were published to document key issues in public financial management especially budget management.
The NETWORK, in phase II will build on the knowledge, capability and working relationship with the bureaucracy from phase I to further strengthen transparency, accountability and citizen participation in democratic governance. Project objectives include: (1) deeper understanding of and constructive engagement in the budgeting system and processes of selected sectors; (2) generation of studies and reports to support newly appointed and elected officials in understanding budget status; and (3) sustained advocacy for transparency, social accountability and participatory governance. These would complement emerging efforts including more systematic monitoring by an expanded NETWORK. Expected outcomes articulated in five documents include (a) addressing two crucial knowledge gaps for better budget oversight; (b) one key knowledge product for Filipino citizens; and (c) one protocol mechanism for CSO constructive engagement in the budget process.
 President’s Social Contract with the Filipino People accessible at http://www.gov.ph/the-republic/the-president/benigno-simeon-cojuangco-aquino-iii/platform-of-government/
 Abad Lauds Early Ratification of GAA 2011 http://www.dbm.gov.ph/index.php?pid=3&nid=2127
 President’s FY 2011 Budget Message accessible at http://www.gov.ph/2010/08/24/president-aquinos-2011-budget-message/