The 15 Senators who refused to realign their P3 billion worth of Priority Development Assistance Fund in total have reduced the country’s budget deficit, a Cabinet official said on Thursday.
Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management made the pronouncement in light of the disclosure of the office of the Sen. Francis Escudero that 15 Senate members did not realigned their respective P200 million PDAF.
PDAF has already been outlawed by the Supreme Court last November amid the filing of plunder and related complaints vs. incumbent and former government officials over the P10 billion PDAF scam that allegedly funneled PDAF funds to bogus organizations owned by Janet Lim-Napoles and resulted in kickbacks for lawmakers.
But Congress already moved ahead of the Supreme Court ruling and scrapped the P24.5 billion 2014 allocation for PDAF, with parts of it realigned to various government agencies and three local government units.
“Since these 15 Senators did not realigned it, the amount [of P3 billion]was deducted from the budget. It was deleted. And since we’re in deficit, it [non-realignment of PDAF] reduced the deficit,” Abad said in a text message.
The President initially submitted a P2.268 proposed budget for 2014. Prior to the non-realignment of PDAF, the Philippines’ budget deficit for 2014 is pegged at P266.2 billion pesos.
The 15 Senators who did not realign their respective P200 million PDAF include: Escudero, Juan Edgardo Angara, Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Teofisto Guingona 3rd, Franklin Drilon, Serge Osmeña 3rd, Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda, Juan Ponce Enrile, Vicente Sotto 3rd, Gringo Honasan, Nancy Binay and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
On the other hand, the five Senators who realigned each of their whole P200 million PDAF to Calamity Fund are: Ralph Recto, siblings Allan and Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Joseph Victor Ejercito.
The Senators who realigned their PDAF to government agencies are: Senators Lito Lapid, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. and Antonio Trillanes 4th. Only Senator Jinggoy Estrada realigned his PDAF to local government units: City of Manila (P100 million), City of Caloocan (P50 million) and Municipality of Lal-lo Cagayan province (P50 million).
The House of Representatives, for its part, limited the realignment of their whole PDAF allocation to four government agencies namely: Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Labor and Employment.
“The House did not amend the 2014 budget provision on LGU funding. The only major amendment that we made is that we scrapped the PDAF and reallocated it to various government agencies,” House Appropriations panel Chair Isidro Ungab of Davao City said in a text message.
“Our move was very transparent since the budgetary items are more specific to the agency. It would be easier to monitor the implementation [of the projects funded by the realigned PDAF]. There is no room for discretion,” Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, added in a separate text message.
LLANESCA T. PANTI