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Public encouraged to join budget debate

FOR the first time, the public can participate in the discussion of the nation’s budget allocation.

This was announced by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who said the House of Representatives under his leadership wants to give the people a chance to participate in the budget hearing.

On September 4, the House committee on appropriations chaired by ACTS-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap will start deliberating on the proposed 2021 national expenditure program amounting to P4.5 trillion.

“Since the start of this pandemic, Congress has taken advantage of these new technologies to continue doing our work. Now, as we deliberate on the budget,  we can use these same systems to allow our fellow citizens – not just to watch, but to directly participate in the process,” Cayetano said in a statement.

The Speaker’s call for participation harks back to his stint as Secretary of Foreign Affairs when he would invite overseas Filipino worker (OFW) leaders to participate in meetings with ambassadors and consuls.

“I’ve always believed that the best way to ensure accountability among public officials is by being completely transparent in what we do. Just like with the OFWs and the programs of the DFA, we want people to help us scrutinize, not just the budget but also Congress,” he added. \

This time around, with the challenges of COVID-19 still present, Cayetano urged the public to use social media and other platforms or to reach out to their representatives in order to participate in the budget hearings.

He said Congress needs the input of the public in the same way their ideas were sought and considered during the crafting of the now-ratified Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2).

“We are the House of the People. We will be discussing the people’s money so the people should have a voice. They should be able to give us their opinion, tell us what they want us to prioritize, and witness the process firsthand. This also goes to show our transparency and accountability to our constituents,” he added.

Cayetano said the House leadership will be meeting early this week to discuss the mechanics and protocols to be observed by the public in their participation.

Publication Source :    People's Journal