[As House budget delibs open] Workers call for Automatic Appropriations Law repeal

As Congress starts deliberations on the proposed 2013 national budget, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called for repealing the Automatic Appropriations Law and the rechanneling of debt payments to social services, saying the government should “free” funds for workers’ and poor people’s welfare.

KMU called for the repeal of Section 31 of Presidential Decree No. 1177 which incidentally marked its 35th year last July 30.

“The AAL’s repeal is certainly long overdue. Education, health, housing and other social services in the country have suffered long enough because of this burdensome remnant of Martial Law,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“We should stop the government from channeling huge sums of money to the finance oligarchs’ pockets while workers and the poor in the country suffer from insufficient and poor-quality social services,” he added.

“For decades, the government has prioritized the dictates of lending institutions over the needs of the country’s workers and people. We should intensify our call for the government to reverse this prioritization,” he said.

While government subsidy to education, health and other social services has been repeatedly cut, almost 40 per cent of the national budget has repeatedly been alloted to paying the country’s foreign debt.

“The government should repudiate onerous debts that did not benefit the Filipino people, such as those incurred under the Marcos dictatorship. We cannot go on paying debts which went to the private coffers of government officials,” Soluta said.

“We are calling on workers and the poor to join protests for the AAL’s repeal and the increase of state subsidy for social services. We cannot rely on Pres. Aquino, whose main concern is pleasing financial institutions and international ratings agencies, to change the government’s approach to paying the foreign debt,” he added.

KMU expressed support for House Bill 1962 filed by Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond V. Palatino, which seeks to repeal the AAA and allot 6 per cent of the national budget to education.

“The Fifteenth Congress should prioritize HB 1962, and stop pushing for Aquino government’s Charter change scheme. HB 1962 will truly benefit workers and the poor while Cha-cha will only benefit big foreign capitalists who want to buy lands and own public utilities in the country,” Soluta said.

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