Amendments seek ‘pork’ transfer to SUC budgets

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Amendments seeking to excise provisions that transform several agency budgets into “pork barrels” were filed on Wednesday by a party-list lawmaker.

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Filed by Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon, the amendments wanted the funds rechanneled to augment budgets of state colleges and universities (SUCs).

Ridon’s move was made on the last day for filing of amendments to House Bill (HB) 6132 or the 2016 General Appropriations Bill.

In a vote of 230-20, the House of Representatives approved HB 6132 on third and final reading “subject to such amendments as may be approved by the small committee” headed by the House Committee on Appropriations.

Ridon sought restoration of the P477.8 million cut from the 2016 budget for maintenance and other expenses (MOOE) of 59 SUCs.

According to the congressman,  27 legislators have expressed support to his move.

Ridon also proposed that funds be sourced from the P3.4-billion budget for the Compensation and Separation Benefits of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (Cafgu).

“While the President expressly provided that ‘no new Cafgus shall be gradually scaled down,’ there can be no justification for the Cafgu budget’s increase to P3.4 billion in 2016.

Instead, the House Committee on Appropriations should rechannel the aforementioned portion of said funds to the MOOE of SUCs,” Ridon explained in a news conference in Quezon City.

He also asked for additional P4.1-billion capital outlay for 27 SUCs, including the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, for construction of student dormitories, faculty housing and school buildings, especially in state schools located in remote areas.

Ridon suggested that the P4.1 billion be sourced from the item “Budgetary Support to Government Corporations-Others.”

He also sought deletion of the special provision in the budget of SUCs that authorize school administrators to tap students for construction work.

“There is no need for us to include such provision in the national budget. Congress should let schools practice academic freedom and let them prepare appropriate practicum programs for students,” Ridon said.

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