MANILA, Philippines – While protesters against the pork barrel were gathered at the Luneta Park on Monday, August 26, President Benigno Aquino III made a promise: he will go after the people behind the massive misuse of lawmakers’ discretionary fund.
“We will do everything in our power to find those who conspired to take advantage of the PDAF’s (Priority Development Assistance Fund) good intentions, and to hold them accountable,” Aquino said in his National Heroes Day speech at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.
“We will not allow anyone to be used to propagate the corrupt practices of a few. We will make certain that the mistakes of the past are not repeated so that we may further ascertain that the people’s money is spent properly,” he added.
Aquino on Friday announced an overhaul in the pork barrel system. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which became a tool in siphoning off funds, may not avail of the funds anymore.
Lawmakers are now required to submit their plans for their respective pork barrel and will be earmarked in the budget law as line items. It has always been a lumpsum fund allocated in the budget.
“This is part of continuously finding and forming a mechanism that ensures that the people’s money can only be used for the people,” Aquino said.
In Malacañang, the President’s spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda, dismissed calls to have Aquino’s own discretionary funds scrapped.
He said the President’s funds were all subject to auditing, along with the rest of the departments and agencies.
Lacierda said the public could scrutinize the funds of the Office of the President through the various government’s websites and the Department of Budget and Management.
The President also urged Filipinos to help him. “We also need our people to keep vigilant watch of each project that will be funded,” he added
But the President’s announcement was not enough. The protesters had been calling for total abolition of the discretionary fund. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com