Prof. Leonor Briones.

The P70-billion block grant that will be given to the new autonomous region in the Philippines during the first year of the implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law raises serious questions of accountability, former National Treasurer Leonor Briones said.

“The most problematic in terms of accountability is the block grant,” Briones, lead convenor of Social Watch Philippines, told a forum on the BBL at the University of the Philippines Thursday.

Prof. Leonor Briones.

The budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines on Friday criticized the Senate for retaining the new definition of savings in the 2015 budget that it approved, and the possibility of funding for an expense item being declared as savings at any time of the year.

"Such a redefinition can perpetuate the pork barrel system and mechanisms similar to the Disbursement Acceleration Program, both of which have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court," the group said in a statement.

Photo: Social Watch Philippines

Social Watch Philippines challenged Congress to reclaim the power of the purse from the Executive at the SWP-Alternative Budget Initiative’s critique of the proposed 2015 budget at the House Committee on Appropriations CSO consultation last Wednesday, September 10, 2014. SWP-ABI also presented their alternative budget proposals for 2015 in the same meeting.

SWP Lead Convenor Prof. Emeritus Leonor Magtolis Briones presented with a summary of the organization’s analysis of the 2015 proposed budget. She focusing on salient issues Congress faces with the current public finance system, such as congressional scrutiny, debt servicing and stark disparities in regional allocations of the budget.

Breaking Through to Sustainability

By Isagani Serrano

Social Watch Philippines, 2014.

Gustave Assah.

The participants in the civil society strategy meeting on monitoring and accountability organized by Social Watch last february in Montevideo were asked about how they personally work and relate with the huge task of making the powerful accountable. Here is what they said:

Prof. Leonor Briones

In the last month or so, the Philippines has received overwhelming sympathy and support from the rest of the world. These are through kind words, prayers and donations meant for the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.

The numbers are online, the Budget Department says. Anybody can easily go to—the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub. Aggregate amounts are posted on the right side of the site, broken down into cash and non-cash donations.

Three days into the first month since super Typhoon Yolanda flattened many parts of central Philippines, media groups, netizens, and disaster risk reduction advocates come together to talk on steps to ensure that the funds and goods donated for Yolanda victims will be accounted for and will match of the needs of about 11 million people it affected.

More than tracking where foreign aid goes as the country continues to recover from Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), citizens need to keep an eye on how government’s calamity funds are spent, Dr. Leonor Briones, lead convenor of Social Watch Philippines advised civil society organizations on December 4th.

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.

Prof. Leonor Briones

In the Philippines, Social Watch Philippines monitors the MDG programs as implemented by the government. Its main advocacy is more government spending for health, education, agriculture, the environment, and for social protection for all. It has organized the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) which proposes alternative budgets for these MDG-related expenditures.

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