NGOs support Senate version of '07 national budget

December 07 2006, Philippines. National Twenty-two non-government organizations on Thursday expressed their support to the Senate's version of the proposed 2007 national budget.

Former National Treasurer Leonor Magtolis Briones, who is also the co-convenor of Social Watch Philippines, said the group appreciates the Senate's adoption of the NGOs' proposals. "Although the proposed budget is not exactly how we want it to be, we are happy that the Chair of Senate Finance Committee had listened to us," Briones said. Last July, Briones and some members of the House of Representatives came up with the NGO-Legislators alternative budget titled "Imperatives of Real and Equitable Growth: An Alternative Proposal for Financing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the 2007 budget." In the proposal, Briones' group gave emphasis to the reduction of the unprogrammed funds by P20.5 billion vaguely described as infrastructure and social projects. They also proposed that items prone to graft and corruption should be removed, reduced or retained with clear guidelines on how they shall be used and released. The proposal earned the nod of Senators Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Ping Lacson, Jamby Madrigal and Nene Pimentel. "We hope that the budget will be passed before Congress adjourns this month so sufficient resources can be made available to take care of children and mothers, and rebuild smashed schoolhouses, make health services available and heal the wounds of Reming," she said.