AT least 14 senators have officially decided to waive their P200 million allocation under the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) and have it deducted from the P2.268 trillion 2014 proposed budget this despite of the appeal of some of their colleagues to just realign the fund to augment the calamity fund.
The senators who are pushing for the total abolition of their 2014 pork barrel allocation have stated their respective positions through a letter they submitted to the Senate Finance committee.
Senators who decided to totally let go of their PDAF were Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Sergio Osmena 3rd, Aquilino Pimentel, Cynthia Villar, Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Teofisto Guingona 3rd, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Grace Poe and Juan Paolo Angara all members of the senate majority.
Senators Vicente Sotto 3rd, Nancy Binay and Gregorio Honasan, of the minority also wants their respective PDAF be deducted from proposed 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) approved by the House of Representatives.
The lower chamber on its approved House Bill 2630 (2014 GAA) has abolished PDAF and realigned that P24.8 congressional pork to various agencies like Commission on Higher Education (CHED); Department of Health (DOH); Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); and the Department Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) among others.
Osmeña in a letter said that he is giving up not only the 2014 PDAF but also his 2013 allocation which has remained untouched.
Osmeña insisted that Senators do not need congressional initiative allowances because they are not beholden to any small district or particular constituency.
Sotto in his letter reiterated his earlier position that he is giving up his PDAF allocations form 2013 to 2016.
Angara said for his part said expressed hope that his decision to delete the P200 million from the 2014 budget could help increase government’s education budget for 2015.
But some senators have different plan for their PDAF and although they support the abolition of the congressional pork they want that the funds be reallocated to other purposes that could benefit the public.
In his letter to the Senate finance committee, Senate majority leader Alan Peter Cayetano has proposed that the entire P4.8 billion senate PDAF be earmarked to augment the P7.5 billion calamity fund instead of deleting the entire amount form the 2014 budget.
He noted the while senators have the moral duty to abolish a system that has been promoting corruption, and has failed to meet the urgent need of the development needs of the people, legilators should also have the moral courage to use the resources to vital programs that would help uplift people’s lives especially in areas that have been devastated by natural and manmade disasters.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th on the other hand wants the P200 million PDAF allocation be
realigned h to fund scholarship programs in different colleges and state universities, medical assistance in government hospitals, and construction of barracks of soldiers and policemen.
“I could have opted to join the bandwagon of deleting the P200 million from the budget but this will be an afterthought and will not achieve anything aside from trying to look good in the media. Worse, it will show utter insensitivity to the needs of the poor and the marginalized sectors,” he pointed out.
Minority senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, Senator JV Ejercito, also decided not to avail of his 2014 PDAF but wants the P200 million be reallocated for relief and rehabilitation funds of the victims of typhoon Santi in Central Luzon, super typhoon Yolanda in Visayas and quake-hit residents in Bohol and Cebu.
“We should muster all our effort and funds to help calamity victims recover from the ‘hell’ they are now living. This is the best time to put the pork barrel fund into good and practical use,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito, at the same time, appealed to the Supreme Court (SC) to urgently lift the temporary restraining order in connection with petition against PDAF in order to maximize what’s left of the P25-Billion 2013 pork barrel as immediate assistance to calamity-stricken areas.
The senate finance committee will be collating all the position latter of the senators and present it before the plenary once the session resumes next week. Jefferson Antiporda