MANILA—Eastern Visayas, the region hit by super typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013, gets the largest share of the total P24.7 billion Bottom-Up Budgeting funds (BuB) for 2016, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“This means the 4.1 million people living in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Norther Samar, and Biliran, of which more than half are poor, will get the biggest share from BuB — a game-changing reform under this administration that has allowed communities to directly identify priority poverty reduction projects to be funded under the National Budget,” said DBM Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad.
Eastern Visayas will receive a total of P2.25 billion in BuB funds to support the implementation of 1,105 priority projects. These projects include construction and upgrading of evacuation facilities, flood control, local roads, school buildings, and water supply and sanitation; acquisition of rescue equipment; as well as support to livelihood, fishing and agriculture.
Eastern Visayas is the poorest region in the country. Poverty level in the region grew to 54.9 percent from 45.2 in 2012 following the onslaught of Yolanda, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Abad said that of the total 1,105 projects, 194 are big-ticket projects pertaining to disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM).
“Communities in Eastern Visayas have identified and prioritized several DRRM projects to be supported through BuB. These projects include the construction of evacuation facilities and flood control, as well as the purchase of rescue equipment, which will help the communities deal with disasters better,” he said.
The DRRM projects account for P736 million of the total BuB funds allocated to Eastern Visayas. Of this amount, P478 million will go to evacuation facilities, P160 million to flood control and P98 million to acquisition of rescue equipment and vehicles.
There are a total of 80 projects on construction and upgrading of evacuation facilities across the region. Ten of these projects cost P15 million each. These 10 evacuation facilities projects will be implemented in the municipalities of Can-avid, Guiuan and Llorente in Eastern Samar; Palo, Dagami, Dulag, and Tabango in Leyte; and Almagro, Santa Margarita and Paranas in Samar.
There are a total of 68 flood control projects while there are 48 projects on the acquisition of rescue equipment and vehicles.
BuB implementing guidelines
Abad encouraged concerned citizens to visit the Open BuB Portal to see the listing of all BuB projects being implemented across the country.
The portal contains a searchable menu for all BuB programs and projects, an interactive dashboard, and downloadable data sets, as well as the guidelines and procedures for each year of BuB implementation.
The Joint Memorandum Circular issued yearly by the DBM, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) provides the guidelines for the preparation, implementation and monitoring of BuB projects.
“The systems we’ve put in place ensure that each BuB project will truly benefit the community that identified it, and that the funds are used only for their intended purpose,” Abad said.
At least 1,590 local government units have participated in the BuB program since it was introduced in 2013. There was a total of 42,221 BuB projects reported in the Open BuB Portal. Of this number, 13,712 projects have been completed as of Dec. 1, 2015 (exclusive of dropped projects that were replaced, split or merged).
BuB has been recognized as one of five Best Practices in Fiscal Transparency from around the world during the Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit in Mexico City last November. In their declaration, GIFT noted that “in 2015, 1,514 cities and municipalities (92 percent of all in the country) had joined the program and it has so much demand it would be difficult for future governments to discontinue.”
The Philippines was also granted the Gold Open Government Award for BuB in the inaugural OGP Awards at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in September 2014. The country was recognized for its outstanding efforts to deepen citizen engagement in the budget process, one of the three gold awards given out to recognize innovative and citizen-driven initiatives in designing and implementing public policy.
BuB is also being credited as one of the reforms that have helped to improve the country’s standing in global benchmarks of budget transparency. For example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) declared the Philippines exhibits good and advanced practices in several areas of its new Fiscal Transparency Code. Likewise, the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey (OBS) for 2015 ranked the Philippines as number one in Budget Transparency in the ASEAN because of programs such as the BuB.