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Consolidating Consensus, Advancing People’s Struggles and Building Alternatives
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) is observing the World Public Services Day on June 23 by asserting the following principles and premises and calling the attention of the Aquino government:"Pera ng gobyerno ay galing sa tao. Serbisyong publiko ay tungkulin ng gobyerno. Serbisyong publiko ay hindi negosyo, ito ay karapatan ng bawa't mamayang Pilipino. Serbisyong publiko sa Pilipino, ngayon na!" ( The government’s funds are the people’s money. Public service is the government’s responsibility. Public service is not for sale, it is every Filipino’s right. Public service for the Filipinos, now!)
FDC, its members and partners, together with the Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) is holding a Public Forum today, June 23, 2015 aimed at critically examining the state of public services in the country in the context of the neoliberal privatization policies of successive administrations until today, under the so-called “Private-Public Partnerships (PPP) policies and programs of the outgoing Aquino (Pnoy) government.
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) together with nearly 1,000 participants from its members and partner-organizations such as Katarungan, Umalab Ka/Alab Katipunan, PALAG-Na Campaign Networks, FDC Women Committee, Migrants groups , a cultural group, KULAY--- massed up and held a program along Morayta Street in Manila during the May 1, 2015, Labor Day protest actions and later joined the 20,000 -march to Mendiola led by the broad coalition, NAGKAISA comprised of FDC's kay labor group members, such as Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Partido ng Mangagagawa (PM) and SENTRO-APL.
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) believes that the Foundation for Economic Freedom’s (FEF) fixation on the “user pay principle” exposes the nearsightedness of its approach to economics and development policy (“Subsidy benefits mainly nonpoor riders,” Inquirer.net, 2/8/15).
Rather than promoting “efficiency” and “equity,” ending state support to public mass transits would compel minimum and below-minimum wage earners to shift back to emission-intensive and congestion-inducing road-based modalities. This is not only macroeconomically inefficient (less people transported per fuel consumed); this also inequitably lengthens travel time for low-earning commuters.
The 2013 Family Income and Expenditure Survey already shows that even nonminimum wage earners are heavily burdened by the increase, with those earning P20,000 a month facing a maximum of 96-percent increase in their transport costs. But even if we assume that they can absorb the hike, this will impact on their ability to consume. Our economy is heavily dependent on consumption: Household Final Consumption Expenditure amounts to 68 percent of the gross domestic product, as of third quarter 2014.
It is now time for reckoning. The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) is calling for a public audit and disclosure of the projects funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in the wake of the final Supreme Court (SC) decision reiterating the program’s unconstitutionality.
FDC also denounces the Aquino III administration’s shameless rejoicing over the so-called concessions it gained from the final SC decision such as the removal of the prohibition on funding of projects, activities and programs that were not covered by the General Appropriations Act (GAA). This presumptuous proclamation of victory, just like its earlier behavior after the botched Mamasapano police operations, is another clear display of the administration’s serious lack of sense of accountability.
MANILA, Philippines – Not just pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles, even President Benigno Aquino III (PNoy) has a lot of explaining to do on why he approved the use of $5.38 billion from Malampaya funds for the security of the natural gas project when said amount should have been included as operating expenses of the contractor led by Shell Philippines Exploration BV.“Congress should also invite PNoy to explain why he spent billions of government’s income in securing facilities owned and operated by a private corporation. What’s the use of awarding petroleum service contracts if public funds would still be used for these projects?” said Sammy Gamboa, Secretary-General of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).According to Gamboa, it is Shell’s obligation to secure all facilities necessary for its operations and include the ensuing costs in operating expenses which will be deducted from the gross proceeds of Malampaya’s production. The government gets its 60 percent share from the net income of the natural gas project.“This is irregular and could serve as precedent for investors who might now be thinking that they could go around their service contracts and have a bigger slice of the proceeds by getting the government to spend for their operating expenses. This shortchanges the Filipino people,” Gamboa said. He added, “This is a glaring example of how lump-sum, discretionary funds, can be misused and even abused. Appropriation of public funds should be subject to people’s scrutiny through the national budget process. We cannot simply hear flimsy justifications from the President and his allies on how they used our money.” Include Malampaya Fund utilization in 2015 NEPReferring to the 2015 budget program that Malacañang presented to Congress, FDC stressed that income from Malampaya is reflected in the government’s sources of revenue that will support the proposed P2.606 trillion budget but there are no details on how it will be used. “The bicameral conference committee currently reconciling the House and Senate versions of the proposed 2015 National Expenditure Program (NEP) should require the Executive to submit details on the utilization of the Malampaya Fund,” FDC demanded.The debt watchdog further stated that the national government expects to earn more than P31 billion from the natural gas project in 2015 but the Power and Energy sector only has an allocation of only P13.19 billion. Assuming that this will come from the Malampaya Fund, it is not even clear whether these expenditures will finance energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government, in compliance with the 2013 Supreme Court ruling on the utilization of the fund.“The Department of Energy is not even in the list of Top Ten Departments in terms of budget allocations for next year. This is curious if we are to consider the DOE’s projection of an energy crisis in 2015 and the huge income from Malampaya,” Gamboa stated.Where is the consolidated report on Malampaya funds?FDC also raised suspicions and disappointment on the inability of the Commission on Audit Chairperson Maria Grace Pulido-Tan to produce the “one consolidated report” on the Malampaya Fund one year after she claimed CoA preparation of the said document.The group pointed to the November 2013 Supreme Court decision on the pork barrel, Malampaya Fund and Presidential Social Fund, which cited Pulido-Tan as claiming to have been preparing the report as of the writing of the High Court’s ruling.