MANILA, Philippines – Will the call to abolish the pork barrel system gain traction in the Senate?
Sen Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Thursday, August 22, filed Senate Resolution No 193, which seeks to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Escudero said it was time to “draw the line” between “public accountability and “patronage politics” by scrapping the fund which has “mutated into a multi-billion racket.”
“Despite proper use and disbursement by well-meaning public officials and despite its statutory laudable purpose, the misconception that the pork barrel has become a form of “horse trading” and a major source of corruption in the government is apparently starting to become real in the eyes of the Filipino people,” Escudero said.
A Commission on Audit report found that at least P6.1 billion of lawmakers’ funds from 2007 to 2009 were misused. Among the major findings of the COA report were as follows:
- 74 lawmakers exceeded their allocations
- 8 congressmen had their PDAF released for projects outside their legislative districts
- 1 congressman received P3 billion, or an average of P1 billion a year, within the audited period (This turned out to be a mistake and was a clerical error on the part of the Budget department; the allocation was for the Public Works department and not for then Compostela Valley Rep Manuel ‘Way Kurat’ Zamora as reported)
- A certain Luis Abalos, who is not a congressman, received PDAF of P20 million (This also turned out to be wrong as the first name was not Luis but rather Benhur, former congressman of Mandaluyong and now mayor)
- An NGO submitted as beneficiaries names taken from board and bar passers
- 6 of the NGOs shared the same incorporators and officers, including relatives of congressmen from whom they received PDAF releases
President Benigno Aquino III has rejected calls for the abolition of the pork barrel but supports stricter punishment for those who abuse it. “Maybe what we should do is that those who misuse the pork barrel should really face more serious punishment,” he was quoted as saying.
Ahead of the COA report’s release, Sen Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed a resolution calling on the Senate to gradually phase out the PDAF by 2016.
On Wednesday, August 21, Sen Alan Cayetano said he is also set to file a concurrent resolution calling for the scrapping of PDAF.
The Senate Blue Ribbon committee will conduct a probe into the alleged misuse of PDAF funds on Thursday, August 29. – Rappler.com