By Janet Lim Villarojo
THE RECENT VISIT OF Sec. Butch Abad to Bohol has enabled the Provincial Leadership to clarify issues on bottom up budgeting (BUB) which is strongly pushed by the Aquino Administration. The presence of almost all local chief executives (LCEs) that day during the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary's quick stop-over from Cebu proved the Provincial Government's strong support for the national leadership. Gov. Edgar M. Chatto facilitated the dialogue with full support from Vice-Gov. Concepcion Lim, Cong. Rene Relampagos and the Board Members. Discussions on BUB gave the Bohol Mayors a much better understanding of the system and its methods and why it is very important in the country's fight against poverty. “BUB is governance which starts from the grass roots level going up and this gives you more than a glimpse of what is really happening in our communities and thus giving you the opportunity to address the issues from the ground,” Sec. Abad addressed the mayors.
The method, he says, is a grassroots participatory budgeting which also gives the chance to the lower levels of government voice out the real concerns of the community and gives them first-hand information of the issues to be addressed. Same issues and concerns could then be properly classified as to their levels of importance and their urgency of needs so that more urgent concerns could be prioritized and given immediate attention. BUB also could teach leaders on the ground how to be able to delve deeper into more complicated projects, study them and give more importance to the ones more important to poverty alleviation and the sustenance of livelihood.
Sec. Abad added that part of the idea of BUB is to enable our LGUs to properly account for their money, thus giving more credibility to our leaders by being transparent in their dealings with the public. Understanding however that capabilities of LGUs could not happen overnight, the national government is planning to incentivize the system where capabilities would be properly recognized and rewarded; this way, capacities are developed. The national government got this idea from Brazil where participative budgeting has given its government and that of other countries more opportunities to grow. “If the periphery is strong, then, the national government is strong,” Abad said, clearly giving our local chief executives a push. The President, Abad added, wants our provinces and regions to grow with the national government so that more growth could be seen from the ground.
Using BUB, Abad said, could also counter-act patronage politics where dependency hampers the growth of our communities and local governments. BUB has already been proven in that according to the World Economic Forum, the country's economy has jumped to 33%, the fastest in the world. In 2013, we also experienced a 3% growth and if this trend continues, then, the Philippine economy would be much, much better by 2016 and this would mean freeing a lot of funds which could be used for further development. In six years' time, there is a great possibility that poverty in the country could be lowered to six low digits, Sec. Abad further explained. The national government has seen a lot of countries using BUB and has observed that this method has produced very strong and productive communities. “Let us show the world that participative budgeting in the Philippines can work,” Budget Sec. Abad cheered everyone on, clearly believing that the Boholanos can do it.