PCW condemns inappropriate use of GAD budget

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) condemns the flawed interpretation of the Gender and Development (GAD) Budget Policy of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) by allowing it to be spent as the “Bigay Pala” GAD bonus, one of the thirty three (33) types of bonuses allegedly enjoyed by MWSS officials on top of their excessive salaries as revealed by a Senate probe.

We in PCW lament such a corrupt practice as it clearly mocks the purpose of the GAD budget. The GAD budget, as mandated by Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women and other policy issuances on GAD is the cost of implementing the GAD plans and programs of national government agencies, local government units, government-owned and controlled corporations, state universities and colleges and other government instrumentalities. The GAD plan is a systematically designed set of programs, projects and activities with a corresponding budget that respond to the gender issues and concerns of a particular government agency or unit and its constituents.

The GAD budget was introduced by the Women and Nation-Building Act and enacted yearly through the General Appropriations Act from 1995 and onwards as a measure to address the obstacles to women’s participation in development efforts, bridge the gender gap between women and men and promote women’s empowerment and gender equality.

To guide the national and local government in implementing the GAD budget policy, the PCW and its partner oversight agencies such as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) have issued policy guidelines for the formulation and submission of annual GAD plans and GAD accomplishment reports. The PCW and its partner institutions both in government and in civil society have also provided technical assistance and capability building services to help government agencies design their GAD plans and programs.

In the last three years, the Commission on Audit (COA) has also undertaken a critical initiative to conscientiously review the utilization of the GAD budget through its annual audit of GAD funds. The PCW commends the COA for committing to this important task. This initiative helps in guarding and inhibiting government agencies from engaging in immoral and unethical budget practices. COA’s action in exposing the anomalies in MWSS sends a strong message to the Filipinos and to the rest of the world that abusers of public funds would be penalized.

We remain vigilant in pushing for the recognition of GAD concerns as a priority of government. As such, we in PCW call on government agencies to renew their commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality by appropriately and effectively utilizing the GAD Budget. The Commission and its partners in government and civil society are determined to ensure that the GAD budget does not fall prey to misuse and abuse.