Aquino defends Palace ‘pork’

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DESPITE calls for the abolition of the executive department’s “pork barrel”, President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday defended the lump sum funds under his discretion, including the Malampaya, calamity and the president’s social funds (PSF).

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Aquino said lump sum funds are needed to create an elbow room for emergency and unexpected situations. He said that it is difficult to itemize the lump sum funds under his discretion, especially the calamity fund.

“The question is, how can you itemize the calamity funds before the calamity strikes?

The department should really have a fund to be used in calamities that we cannot, of course, predict,” the President explained.

Based on the 2014 National Expenditure Program, P7.5 billion is allocated for calamity fund while the PSF has no fixed allocation as it is obtained from the annual remittances of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Last year, Pagcor remitted P5.526 billion.

The President has P1.337 billion discretionary funds. It consists of P796 billion automatic appropriations; P310 billion special programmed funds; P139.9 billion unprogrammed funds; P62.6 billion conditional cash transfer; P7.22 billion Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) funds, P1.46 billion confidential and intelligence expenses; and P20.03 billion for the bottom-up budgeting approach.

These funds can only be released upon the president’s approval.

President’s social fund
Aquino also defended the PSF, which is included in the special programmed funds (SPF) of the executive department. The fund goes to families of deceased members of the military or police.

“We’re helping those families through the social fund, to bring them back on a better economic footing especially if the deceased is a sole breadwinner,” he said, adding that the administration has been prudent in using the funds.

Aquino noted that while his critics called for abolishing PSF, no one has pointed out that it has been misused by the administration.

“Have you noticed that no one is saying that there is a misuse in this president’s social fund? But they’re asking to remove it. You cannot understand their logic,” he said.
Malacañang has maintained that the PSF is not ‘pork’ but a “continuing and trust fund.”

Jhoanna Ballaran

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