Despite my deep frustration at this government (and previous governments), there are occasional good news to be consoled about. Take for example Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s proposed bill recognizing participation of civil society in government’s budget processes. Props to this maverick lawmaker. (Forget about the ghosts of Kuratong Baleleng and Dacer cases that seem to haunt him up to this time.)
I’m sure that the Senator took the cue from the experiences of other countries such as Brazil. Indeed, participatory budgeting is an empowering exercise whereby citizens directly influence the State’s thinking and decision-making as far as fiscal resources are concerned.
Let me just stress that participatory budgeting (as well as other exercises and processes with the modifier ‘participatory’) calls for one thing – enlightening and organizing the real stakeholders, the poor and marginalized. Unless these people are made aware of this, participatory budgeting may just be an exercise between legislators and civil society groups which represent no one but their selves (although they adeptly make legislators believe that they speak on the poor’s and marginalized’s behalf.)
It’s time that social movements took this up.