Progressive Lawmakers Deem 2011 Budget as Rushed, Misaligned and Regressive

When the session resumed on November 8, members of the House of Representatives were being asked to vote on the proposed budget. ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio stood up and asked if they could still look into the amendments that were considered and included in the final version of the bill. The request, however, was denied.


MANILA — The P1.645-trillion ($37.63 million) budget for 2011 has been passed at the House of Representatives on its third and final reading by a vote of 175 for and 21 against last November 8. But progressive party-list groups, which voted against it, have not given up the fight and are explaining its flaws to the public.

In a press conference on November 9, progressive party-list representatives explained why they voted against the 2011 budget.

“It is a distorted budget, skewed against the people,” Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said. She added that the voting took them by surprise because they were expecting that the plenary session would tackle the proposed amendments that were submitted to the Committee on Appropriations.

On October 16, House Bill 3101, or the General Appropriations Bill for 2011, was passed on second reading. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. explained that the budget was “meticulous, down to the smallest but important detail.” During the session break, however, progressive party-list representatives said that only a “small group” looked into the amendments that was supposed to be discussed during the third reading.

When the session resumed on November 8, members of the House of Representatives were being asked to vote on the proposed budget. ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio stood up and asked if they could still look into the amendments that were considered and included in the final version of the bill. The request, however, was denied.

“So if there were amendments but they never bothered to inform us what it was, the members of the House of Representatives were in a blind spot,” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said, “How could you vote ‘yes’ to a bill when you have not yet even considered its content?”

Colmenares, who is also a lawyer, said he could not help but notice some constitutional and legal violations that took place when the bill was passed on third reading. He said the appropriations should emanate from the House of Representatives and that a period for amendments should also be given.

Colmenares said the House of Representatives seemingly rushed the passage of House Bill 3101 because it was ‘certified urgent’ by President Benigno Aquino III. He, however, could not find the emergency situation that served as the basis for rushing the 2011 budget. Because of this, Colmenares said, they lost the opportunity to look into the Conditional Cash Transfer program, former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo’s P2.2 billion ($50 million) pork barrel and the meager budget allocated to basic social services.

CCT Still Included

Progressive party representatives said that while they believe that the 2011 budget was rushed, the content of the budget remains as the top reason why they voted against it. For one, the Conditional Cash Transfer program (CCT) is still included in the final version of the bill.

The CCT is a $400 million loan from Asian Development Bank, which was approved last September. The government, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development, would distribute a a maximum of P1,400 ($32) per family per month to the poor, on the condition that mothers would go through pre and post natal care and that their children are attending school.

Tinio said the Aquino government keeps on comparing the CCT program with those implemented in Latin America. But in Brazil, he said, a big difference lies in the fact that their CCT is being funded through government’s revenues, which, he said, is essentially a “redistribution of wealth.” On the other hand, the Philippines’ CCT is funded by a foreign loan, which according to Tinio, is a “redistribution of indebtedness.”

ACT Teachers Party, on its part, filed an amendment before the Committee on Appropriations to slash P5 billion ($114 million) from the CCT funds to be realigned to the Department of Education’s Food for the School Program. “But they did not consider it.”

Ilagan of Gabriela said the big fund allocated for the CCT should have been realigned to basic social services such as legal assistance for OFWs in distress, for health and for state universities and colleges (SUCs).


“We consider the 2011 budget as regressive and anti-development,” Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said.

Under the 2011 budget, appropriations for the SUCs would be slashed by billions of pesos. In the University of the Philippines alone, the country’s premiere state university, its budget would be slashed by P1.39 billion ($31,684,522). Budget for other big SUCs such as the Philippine Normal University and Bicol University would be slashed by P92 million ($2,097,105) and P88 million ($2,005,926), respectively.

The budget for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of SUCs has also been reduced by P1.1 billion ($25,074,082) or by 28.16 percent compared to the 2010 budget. The MOOE budget of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, the biggest state university, has been slashed by P24 million ($547,070,891) or by 20.53 percent.
Overseas Filipino Workers, repeatedly honored for keeping the Philippine economy afloat, also suffered the same fate. In the 2011 budget, the fund for legal assistance for OFWs in distress has been slashed by half from P50 million ($1,139,731) in 2009 to P27 ($615,454) million in 2010.

Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez said in a statement that the reduction of the budget for legal assistance for OFWs is a violation of Republic Act 10022, or the amended Migrant Workers Act. The migrant workers law stipulates that at least P100 million ($2,279,462) should be allotted to Department of Foreign Affairs as repatriation funds,and for medical assistance and other welfare services for OFWs.

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  1. The slash on the budget of SUCs only manifests that the Aquino administration has no dedication to elevate the quality of education here in the Philippines. The budget cut will only fallback to higher tuition and school fees and who's going to take the burden? Hindi lang ang kabataang estudyante ang higit na apektado kung hindi pati ang mga magulang na nakapaloob din sa iba't-ibang sektor ng lipunan. Nararapat lamang na kumilos ang hanay ng kabataang estudyante sa gabay ng hanay ng mga guro at iba pang sektor upang kalampagin ang Aquino administration na ibigay ang nararapat na budget para sa edukasyon. NO TO BUDGET CUT!

  2. Mass education and mass protests from women, children, youth,students especially in the state educationals institutions, should be launched immediately, and continued weekly….Congresspeople cannot be expected to change until every district is organized, educated, and mobilized. Otherwise, this situation will continue year in and out, as it has in the last fifty years since the country was granted nominal independence by the colonizer. The Batasan represents the oligarchic bloc of landlords, bureaucrats, big capitalists, and compradors, so can we expect pro-people legislation? More weapons for the AFP and PNP for killing and torturing citizens, is what NoyNoy wants. Isulong ang pakikibaka!

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