The militant bloc of the House of Representatives vowed to file a bill that would abolish priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel given to congressmen and senators.
The alliance composed of Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Kabataan, and Anakpawis party-list groups made the move after several politicians have been tagged in a P10-billion pork barrel funds.
“We are, therefore, filing a bill for the abolition of the pork barrel system,” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said in a press conference.
Colmenares explained the bill shall prohibit the president from providing a budgetary item for lump sum discretionary amounts.
He claimed the proposed budget in discretionary lump sum amounts coming from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is primary source of kickbacks and corruption in the legislature.
“Aside from the legislators’ pork barrel, the bill shall also abolish the Presidential pork barrel funds, such as the President’s Social Fund sourced from revenue-generating agencies like PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation), PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office), and the Malampaya Fund,” he added.
But the House leadership expressed fear that such a move would paralyze the delivery of basic services, including hospitalization for the indigent patients in the districts.
In a separate press conference, Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. categorically thumbed moves to scrap the pork barrel, which has been providing funds for district congressmen and senator’s programs.
“I am against the abolition of PDAF. We have our own constituents unlike senators whose constituent is the whole nation,” Belmonte told reporters.
Every year, party-list and district congressmen receive P70 million each while senators get P200 million to fund their legislative projects.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., former chairman of House Committee on Appropriations, also expressed opposition to Makabayan bloc’s proposal.
Andaya Jr., who became the secretary of the DBM, explained the pork barrel serves as equalizer “since not all districts are allotted the same budget, across the board.
“If you are short on funding for scholarship, then you can use your PDAF,” Andaya said in a separate interview.
But he admitted that pork barrel funds are becoming sources of evil once they are spent on
other things, which not intended to the projects.
The NBI is investigating a P10-billion pork barrel scam of entrepreneur Lim Napoles, whose JLN Group of Companies was reportedly tapped for questinable government-funded projects.