Press Release
October 21, 2010


Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III today reiterated his call to reform the current budget system by implementing a policy of full disclosure of the government's transactions most especially on matters pertaining to the appropriation of the national budget and the expenditure of public funds.

Guingona, a staunch advocate of transparent, accountable and participatory budget process which started when he was a Congressman of the 2nd district of Bukidnon, stressed that the current budget system has been the source of graft and corruption that was prevalent during the past administration due to the flaws in the budget process.

"Our budget system for the past several years is flawed and enables funds to hemorrhage through corrupt and wasteful practices," Guingona added.

For instance, Guingona added, access to budget information has been greatly restricted. Outside of a few budget specialists, few can claim thorough knowledge of the budget process. Even legislators who approve the budget have a very limited view of the budget, often leaving them with not much else but to focus on parochial interests. The ordinary citizen is far worse off with no access whatsoever to budget information other than what he can gather from the mass media.

Guingona also took note of the recent report released by the U.S.-based International Budget Partnership (IBP) saying that while the Philippines has raised its budget transparency score by a full seven points from what it posted in 2008, it needs to open up some more. According to IBP, the Philippines remain one of the 74 out of the 94 countries that failed to meet basic standards of transparency and accountability with national budgets.

Further, the IBP said as quoted in the report published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) dated October 19, 2010, the Philippines was able to provide significant information on only three out of eight key budget documents that international good practice says governments should publish. These include the publication of more comprehensive information in the executive's budget proposal, which is the government's most important policy instrument. It had "some" or no information at all on audit and year-end reports, pre-budget statement, mid-year review, and the citizens' budget.

The IBP conducts an Open Budget Survey every two years using internationally recognized criteria to give each country a transparency score on a 100-point scale called the Open Budget Index (OBI). The OBI scores are determined by averaging the response to 123 questions related to information contained in the eight key budget documents, public participation and the strength of formal oversight institutions.

"We are now under a new administration that puts a high premium on good governance based on transparency, accountability and good governance. It is therefore, now the time to see a policy that grants the public their constitutional right to have full access to information regarding government transactions and dispensation of the national budget where social services must be a top priority and eliminates unreasonably big and vague budgetary allotment," Guingona stressed.

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