First People’s Institute for Public Finance launched in Philippines

Social Watch Philippines (SWP), Silliman University in Negros Oriental and Mindanao State University (MSU) in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) launched the People’s Public Finance Institute (PPFI), which is the first-ever center on teaching citizens to learn and be actively involved in public finance in the Philippines.

“As part of Social Watch Philippines’ commitment to asserting social development for people’s rights and empowerment, we are setting up PPFI centers in various State Colleges and Universities (SUCs) all over the country,” said former national treasurer and SWP lead convenor Leonor Magtolis Briones.“Through the Institute, SWP and SUCs will educate the general public, civil society organizations (CSOs) and interested local government officials on national and local public finance working under the framework of citizens’ participation,” she added.

"The PPFI is our strategy to capacitate citizens so they can become partners of the national government in monitoring utilization of pubic funds downloaded to the communities," Briones said. "We hope that the administration will realize that it cannot effectively monitor every centavo without citizens' monitoring and social audit. It should support citizens' education on public finance by institutions like PPFI to successfully fight corruption," she added.

“Public finance is for the people. Hence, the PPFI training approaches the teaching of public finance by providing a curriculum that simplifies complexities and intricacies in the language and manner accommodating, receptive and accessible to citizens. It does not deal extensively on theories and complicated formulas and calculations,”explained Jessica Cantos, SWP co-convenor. “The PPFI focuses heavily on the duties of citizens and how they can be able to participate in concrete terms,” she added.

Mindanao State University in Marawi City is the first University to host the PPFI. Prof. Girlie B. Miguel, Dean, College of Public Affairs of the MSU and Azrif A. Mamutuk, Special Investigator of the Regional Human Rights Commission led the launching of PPFI last Thursday (October 24, 2013).

Meanwhile, the Office of the Dean of Student Services and the Department of History and Political Science led the launching of the Institute at the Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental yesterday (October 30).

“PPFI-MSU and other PPFI hub all over the country will be the centers for citizens to share and learn the different aspects of public finance. The institute will also serve as the meeting point for citizens to build the constituency for citizens’ participation in all public finance processes,” said Prof. Miguel.

“The PPFI offers courses on participation in Local Revenue Administration, Local Budgeting, Local Expenditures Monitoring, Local Procurement Process and Audit of Local Government Funds with focus on Special Education Fund.  We encourage all local citizens’ groups, especially those representing the marginalized groups, to pursuepeople’s empowerment through the PPFI,” said Prof. Carlos Magtolis, Dean of Student Services of Silliman University.

The PPFI is supported by the United Nations Development Programme and Commission on Human Rights.