The PCIJ talked to regular people on the street and asked them about their knowledge about the government’s budget processes.
IN A FIELD of restored and restricted democracies, and repressive regimes, the Philippines’ so-so score in the 2010 Open Budget Survey is cause enough to celebrate. One of Southeast Asia’s economic laggards, the Philippines did one better: it tops 10 other countries in the region in terms of budget transparency.
This is even as the Philippines scored a measly 55 out of a possible 100.
WORRY HAS taken over advocates of budget reform in Congress and civil society groups as the recently ratified budget bill for 2009 comes closer to becoming law. As they see it, crafty tricks have marred the preparation of the bill, which could so readily transform into a political tool for the Arroyo administration to influence the May 2010 elections in its favor.
Any time now, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be signing into law the enrolled bill that provides for P1.4-trillion national budget for 2009, including a P50-billion “economic-stimulus fund” that critics have tagged derisively as an “election-stimulus fund” for her political allies.
BY ALL accounts the freest democracy in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, ironically, has become less and less transparent in its budget and financial processes.
The situation makes it more difficult for citizens to hold the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo accountable for cases of abuse, misuse, and corruption of public funds.