Eight of the 23 senators spent at least P100 million each from the Congress’ pork barrel funds in 2011, according to a report of the Department of Budget and Management Wednesday.
Senators Edgardo Angara, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan II, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Ralph Recto, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Manuel Villar Jr. received and spent P100 million each for their projects, DBM said.
Their expense make up half of the total P1,637,445,000 the DBM released for the Senate's priority development assistance fund or PDAF.
The report showed that the biggest expenses of Angara, Lapid and Recto were for their home provinces in Aurora, Pampanga and Batangas, respectively.
Angara allocated P40 million for the construction of a school building, multi-purpose pathways, and installation of pipes and tanks for water supply in Aurora; Lapid spent P31 million for infrastructure projects including the rehabilitation of a hospital, and construction of a school building and line canal in Pampanga; while Recto set aside P45 million for concreting of roads and purchasing of facilities for police stations in Batangas.
On the other hand, Estrada gave away P50 million in financial assistance to indigent farmers through the Department of Agriculture.
Honasan spent P40 million for the planting of jatropha, a plant touted as a source of biofuel but later discovered that it was not commercially viable. The Arroyo administration reportedly wasted more than P1 billion for this project.
Sotto set aside P28.5 million for infrastructure and educational projects in Pampanga, home province of his wife, actress Helen Gamboa.
Villar meanwhile allocated P39 million for scholarship programs in different provinces.
DBM fixes wrong report
The DBM mistakenly reported on Tuesday that Revilla received a total of P210 million in which he allegedly spent half or P115 million for the acquisition of 529 multicabs in Cavite.
However, Revilla cleared in a statement that the report was false and that only 23 multicabs were acquired which amounted to P5 million and not P115 million.
"The DBM must clear this. It's not right that it appears my PDAF was grossly disproportional to those of my colleagues. They should also correct it because the report implied that my PDAF was padded by 110 million pesos.
"They should be careful with releasing facts. Inaccuracy on sensitive information can damage people," the senator said.
The DBM immediately apologized and corrected its data the day after showing that Revilla only received P100 million and that his biggest allocation (P45 million) was for financial assistance to medical projects all over the country.
Senators who spent less
Meanwhile, senators who spent less than P100 million of their PDAF in 2011 are: Francis “Chiz” Escudero, P99,000,000; Sergio Osmena , P96,675,000; Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., P95,500,000; Loren Legarda, P89,400,000; Juan Ponce Enrile, P83,500,000; Miriam Santiago, P80,000,000; Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, P72,000,000; and Pia Cayetano, P71,170,000.
Senators who spent even less than P50 million are: Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, P46,200,000; Antonio Trillanes IV, P35,400,000; Alan Peter Cayetano, P30,500,000; Franklin Drilon, P19,500,000; and Koko Pimentel, P18,600,000. Pimentel took over the seat of resigned senator Miguel Zubiri.
Only Senators Joker Arroyo and Panfilo Lacson did not request fund releases for their projects under the 2011 budget, the DBM said.
According to DBM, the annual PDAF allocation of each senator must not exceed the amount of P200 million. The amount shall be used to fund both “soft” and “hard” projects.
The “soft” projects are basically non-infrastructure projects like scholarship programs, medical assistance to indigent patients in government hospitals, livelihood support programs, the purchase of IT equipment and financial assistance to local governments while “hard” projects are small infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, footbridges, pathways, multipurpose buildings, school buildings, potable water systems, flood control, drainage systems, irrigation facilities and electrification projects.
DBM Secretary Florencio Abad urged the public to remain vigilant on how the government spend its money.
“Ultimately, we are pleased that the public remains deeply interested in the manner through which we manage the people’s funds. We enjoin all Filipinos—particularly the media and other interested groups—to continue strengthening the feedback mechanism for our processes, so that we can boost efficiency, accuracy, and accountability in all levels of government,” Abad said.