(UPDATE 3) Amid public outrage over misused public funds, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III has called for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the "pork barrel."
Two days before a planned massive protest over the PDAF scam, Aquino faced the nation and vowed to remove PDAF and with the help of Congress, draft a new fund appropriation system.
"Kailangan pa ng mas malaking pagbabago upang labanan ang mga talagang pursigidong abusuhin ang sistema. Panahon na po upang i-abolish ang PDAF," the President said in a televised press conference Friday.
"Ngayon, bubuo tayo ng bagong mekanismo upang matugunan ang pangangailangan ng inyong mga mamamayan at sektor–sa paraang tapat, gamit ang tama at makatuwirang proseso, at nang may sapat na mga kalasag laban sa pang-aabuso at katiwalian," he added.
Aquino's announcement comes on the heels of the controversial P10-billion "pork scam," involving businesswoman and now fugitive Janet Lim Napoles who allegedly helped lawmakers divert public funds to non-existing non-government organizations.
Aquino, flanked by Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, also called on the public to help the government scrutinize projects.
"Makakapagmungkahi ng proyekto ang inyong mga mambabatas, ngunit kailangan itong idaan sa proseso ng pagbubuo ng budget. Kung maaprubahan, itatalang mga ito bilang mga line item, alinsunod sa mga programa ng Pambansang Pamahalaan. Mapapaloob ito sa batas bilang Pambansang Budget– hihimayin ang bawat linya, bawat piso, bawat proyekto, gaya ng lahat ng iba pang mga programa ng inyong pamahalaan," said Aquino.
Once Congress passes new legislation on public fund use, this 7-point system will also be in place to deter corruption:
- Government projects will come from a "limited menu"
Consumable "soft projects" such as fertilizers, seedlings, medicine, medical kits, training materials, among others, that cannot be scrutinized properly are prohibited.
Temporary infrastructure projects such as dredging, desalting, or asphalt overlay projects are also not allowed
- Public funds will no longer be diverted to non-government organizations and government-owned and controlled companies such as ZREC at NABCOR.
"Bubuwagin na po ang mga GOCC na ito at iba pang tulad nila, na paulit-ulit na ginamit sa kuntsabahan, at parang wala namang ibang silbi kundi ang maging instrumento ng katiwalian," said Aquino.
Any congressman's project will be limited to his or her district.
- The government will continue and strengthen a transparent bidding for every project, with every bid notice and award placed on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System o PhilGEPS.
The public should have continued access to project implementations through budget department and several other agencies.
Aquino said he would also like to see the conviction of those liable of public fund misuse.
"Ibigay ang inyong buong tulong at kooperasyon upang mahanap ang katotohanan, at nang mapanagot ang dapat managot," said Aquino.
Aquino said he is also confident the Department of Justice, as well as other member-agencies of the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council tasked to probe and prosecute corrupt officials will be able to find the culprits of the misused PDAF.
"Buong-buo po ang kumpiyansa ko sa integridad nina Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Kalihim Leila M. de Lima, at Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan; alam kong wala silang kikilingan. Kinakatawan nila ang panunumbalik ng tiwala ng publiko sa mga institusyong kanilang pinamumunuan," he added.
When asked about reports that his PDAF was bigger than that of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Aquino has this to say: "Nagmukhang mas malaki dahil 'yung una nakatago.