The tandem of presidential bet Senator Panfilo Lacson and his running mate Senate President Vicente Sotto III will push for budget reforms for local government units (LGUs) that will grant control to local executives to choose projects needed by their constituents.
Lacson and Sotto said they have also been espousing for local empowerment and equal distribution of government funds as they called for the adoption of a bottom-up budgeting system to stimulate locally initiated development programs and empower local government units all over the country.
Sotto, in a hybrid town hall meeting with multisectoral leaders in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor on Friday said the bottom-up budgeting scheme is embodied in the proposed Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) bill, which was authored by Lacson and is still pending in the Senate.
The proposed measure is also seen to cut off the dependence of LGUs on the national government for the funding of local projects.
“We know how to solve the problems (of the LGUs) by merely balancing the budget. Bring the money of the government down to the people,” Sotto, who is serving his last term as senator, said.
On top of their regular budget and Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), the proposed BRAVE program will appropriate an annual local development fund of P1 billion to each of the 82 provinces, P100 million each to 146 cities, P50 million each to 1,493 municipalities, and P5 million each to 42,046 barangays.
The funding will be on top of the annual appropriations of the LGUs and their share from locally collected taxes in the form of the IRA.
Sotto said budget reform is necessary to guarantee the proper disbursement and distribution of public funds. “There’s a lot of money but they were not distributed at all,” he said.
Jarvis Prochina, the third nominee of the Ako Bisaya Party-list, said the BRAVE agenda of Lacson and Sotto jibes with the reform agenda being pushed by the multisector groups who met with Sotto in the hybrid town hall meeting
“It’s the first time that the third-highest official of the republic came down to listen by himself the concerns of the farmers, fishermen, vendors, women, LGBTQ, and other marginalized sector representatives. He carefully listened to our plight,” Prochina said.