Will overhauled pork change PH politics?

Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senate President Franklin Drilon back the president's decision to 'abolish' PDAF

In this photo, President Aquino speaks during a press conference in Malacañang Palace, Aug 23, 2013. Behind him are (L) Senate Pres Franklin Drilon and (R) House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – Will an overhauled pork barrel system change Philippine national politics?

The country’s top politicians seem to think so. 

In a statement released the day after President Benigno Aquino III announced he would “abolish” the much maligned Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Senate President Franklin Drilon reiterated the Senate’s “full support.”

Drilon, along with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, flanked the President during the Friday announcement. 

“The decision to abolish the PDAF is a step that will free the poor from the shackles of political debt and patronage,” said Drilon. 

Vice President Jejomar Binay, in a separate statement, called for “unity” in light of the President’s announcement. 

Ang ikabubuti ng mamamayan ang dapat maging tanging basehan, at hindi pulitika,” Binay said, referring to government funds. (The good of our citizens should be the basis, not politics.)

Otherwise, he said, we would go back to the days when the executive branch had “total control” in funding from the national government, referring to former President Gloria Arroyo’s administration.

Binay also called for full accounting of PDAF use under Aquino’s and Arroyo’s administrations, “if only to assure our people that the sins we assigned to the previous regime are no longer with us.”

PDAF overhaul 
Lawmakers’ funds won’t be cut off completely. Instead, the system will be overhauled. In the past weeks, lawmakers’ pork barrel came under scrutiny after reports of the systematic misuse and abuse of the funds came out in media. 

The Commission on Audit later released a report that showed at least P6.1 billion of lawmakers’ funds were being misused.

Several lawmakers have advocated the eradication of PDAF, Drilon included. He said Aquino’s reaction to the issue of PDAF “shows the government’s strong resolve in implementing ‘tuwid na daan’ or straight path and good governance.” 

Drilon and Belmonte first dismissed calls for a congressional probe into the scam, citing conflict of interest. Drilon later backed the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s decision to probe the scam. Several incumbent senators — Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, senators Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan II, Bongbong Marcos, and Bong Revilla — have been linked to the scam

Binay earlier questioned the motives behind the reports that associated Enrile, Estrada, and Honasan with the scam. In an interview, he said a supposed demolition job against him in relation to the 2016 presidential polls had already begun. -Rappler.com