5 December 2010
As the 2011 proposed national budget nears its finality tomorrow with the Bicameral Conference Committee (BCC) meeting of the Senate and the Congress, youth representative Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino of Kabataan Party-list today said that the meeting should be open to the public for transparency.
“The tradition is that after the proposed budget has gone through deliberations in the Congress and the Senate, it will then be discussed by both houses in a closed-door meeting. I push to break that tradition and open the meeting to the public, whose stake in the budget is the highest,” Palatino said.
Palatino stressed that a closed-door budget meeting will further distance the decision-making process of crucial policies from the people.
“In the hope of producing a pro-people national budget, I do not see any problem why the Bicameral meeting should not be open to the public. Otherwise, it would seem to confirm that lawmakers are really up to pass budgetary provisions that are against the welfare of the people,” Palatino said.
According to Palatino, among the contentious provisions in the proposed budget is the huge budget cut of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). Thousands of youth and other sectors have staged education strikes in the past weeks to protest the cut. The Senate last week has allocated a P146-M increase in the operating expenses of the SUCs, an amount which Palatino last week likened to “loose change” and “breadcrumbs.”
“I appeal to the conscience of my fellow lawmakers to heed the clarion call of the youth and the people to raise the measly budget of the SUCs. Doing so would prove that we really care for the future of our youth. ” Palatino said.
Palatino likewise urged President Aquino to reverse his State policy that reduces government support to the SUCs.
“It is worthwhile to recall President Aquino’s oath to the people: ‘Hindi ako magnanakaw’ (I shall not steal). But is not the reduction of government support to public tertiary education a form of stealing? Does it not rob the youth of their future?” Palatino said.
Rep. Mong Palatino