MANILA, Philippines – No, it won’t have a name, this overhauled pork barrel that the President is introducing next year.
Not NACAW, NENOK, BADAF, SEBO, PIGGY, or any of the other names that netizens suggested.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said on Saturday, August 24, the allocations under the lawmakers’ names will simply follow the names of programs or projects that they are funding under each implementing agency.
“Wala nang pangalan, kasi para ka lang nag-approve ng budget ng isang ahensiya eh. So, kung ano ’yung programang papasukan nito [sa ahensiya] ’yon ang magiging pangalan nung programa,” Abad said in an interview over dzRB.
(It won’t have a name anymore, because it’s just like approving an agency’s budget. So if you put it under a certain program in an agency, so you call the fund by that program’s name.)
Line budgeting for 2014 onwards will make this possible, Abad said. There will no longer be lump sum appropriations over which lawmakers have too much discretion.
“Wala na siyang lump sum eh. Ipapaloob mo na siya doon sa programa ng iba’t ibang national government agencies,” the budget secretary said.
(There will be no more lump sum appropriations. You will just put them under the programs of various government agencies.)
‘Can’t be used for horse trading’
Abad explained the changes in the utilization of the pork barrel starting next year in an attempt to disabuse people’s minds of the criticisms that President Aquino is just putting a new collar on an old dog.
President Aquino had been clear about retaining a special fund for senators and lawmakers, even after calls mounted to abolish it. Media reports and a special state audit revealed how it had been systematically misused by dubious non-governmental organizations.
NGOs without track record and reported only ghost projects were found to have been endorsed by lawmakers, cornering billions in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in recent years.
Whistleblowers from a syndicate headed by Janet Lim-Napoles say the funds are split between the NGOs and the lawmakers.
In the overhauled pork barrel system, Abad said, lawmakers will still be allowed to nominate and continue programs and projects that benefit their constituents. The difference: These have to be specified – amount, kind of project, where – in each agency’s budget.
Abad, himself a former congressman of Batanes, said it would also be impossible to use this new system for horse trading or as a carrot to dangle to lawmakers. Congress, he said, has the power of the purse.
Total abolition is ‘extreme’
The lawmakers can propose projects for their constituents but subject to approval along with rest of the budget.
NGOs will no longer be project implementers; only national agencies and local government units will be. Agency-attached government corporations that had been used as conduit of funds to NGOs will be abolished.
Abad said the new system would prolong the budget deliberations, but this will ensure that the lawmakers’ pork barrel will no longer be used arbitrarily or misused.
The budget chief said it was not a good idea to totally scrap allocations for lawmakers because some projects might get discontinued, to the detriment of legitimate beneficiaries.
It would be too extreme a step to completely remove the discretion of lawmakers to nominate programs and projects.
There are scholars and indigent patients who would be out on a limb if lawmakers’ pork barrel will be abolished, Abad said. – Rappler.com