Bayan on budget bill: Same old corrupt governance under Marcos Jr presidency

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the budget bill submitted by the government of Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr reflects the alarming continuation and expansion of pork barrel programs disguised as confidential and intelligence funds (CIF).

It is proof that the so-called ‘Bagong Pilipinas’ branding is a sham. The national budget is still designed to perpetuate traditional political patronage, while corruption is normalized by allocating a higher amount for untransparent expenditures like the CIF.

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There’s nothing innovative in expanding the CIF as it only enables corrupt officials to steal in lump sum and legitimize thievery as a national security operation. It is pure hogwash to claim that civilian agencies need CIF to fulfill their mandate.

We note that CIF has been misused over the years, especially during the Duterte presidency, and its total allocation has been grossly enlarged without proper and credible auditing and sufficient evidence that it benefits the public interest.

Bayan also flags the existence of supposedly social service programs but whose distribution is based on arbitrary and discretionary actions of politicians. Pork barrel is now embedded in numerous programs of various agencies which can be easily accessed by members of the ruling coalition. Rather than empowering the poor and ordinary citizens, the budget boosts the election machinery of the president’s allies. This is “revenge pork barrel” in aid of the midterm and presidential elections.

Furthermore, funding for the bogus local peace effort is retained and wasted on anomalous programs for so-called rebel returnees or weaponized against state critics leading to rampant human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, cronies are rewarded through lucrative contracts in suspicious large-scale infrastructure projects. The government claims infrastructure funding will build a strong economy, but it merely reinforces the tried and tested failed neoliberal model of development in favor of big businesses, foreign contractors, and their corrupt accomplices in the bureaucracy.

Instead of pork barrel projects and CIF, the allocation should be redirected to finance social services. It is infuriating that those in power would reward themselves with disposable funds at a time when majority are reeling from cost-of-living crisis and post-pandemic difficulties. Worse, it is the working classes who will shoulder the cost of bloated pork barrel programs, CIF, and ballooning debt payments through the imposition of new regressive taxes.

A year into his presidency, Marcos has demonstrated that he is no different from his predecessors and his father who plundered the nation’s wealth during the Martial Law era. Marcos’ budget bill exemplifies what is fundamentally wrong in Philippine politics: public office is a means to systematically raid the national treasury for personal gain.

Bayan calls on the people to reject the budget bill, hold accountable the perpetrators of the CIF and pork barrel scams, and demand greater state subsidies for social services and genuine economic development through agrarian reform and national industrialization.

CIF overview:
P5.28 billion pesos for CIF in the budget bill
P4.61 billion CIF for the office of the president
P2.57 billion CIF for civilian agencies
P650 million CIF for VP and Deped Sec Sara Duterte
P8.64 billion for NTF-ELCAC’s barangay development fund

Categories: Statements


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