AFTER he announced the abolition of the legislator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday vowed to run after the people who steal public funds.
In his speech during the commemoration of National Heroes’ Day at Fort Bonifacio, the President stressed that the new system will be stricter to ensure that “the people’s money can only be used for the people.
“Gagawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya, upang tukuyin at panagutin ang mga nagkuntsabahan para dungisan ang dapat sana’y marangal na layunin ng dating PDAF [We will do everything in our power to find those who conspired to take advantage of the PDAF’s good intentions, and to hold them accountable],” the President said, as he asked for public cooperation and vigilance to prevent a repeat of the “kababuyan.”
“Hindi natin hahayaang maging kasangkapan ang sinuman upang magpatuloy ang kababuyan ng iilan; sisikapin nating hindi na maulit pa ang kamalian ng nakaraan, upang lalo pang patibayin ang matuwid na paggugol ng kabang bayan [ 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 said
“Ngunit upang tuluyang maging epektibo ang bagong sistemang ating ilalatag, kailangan ang pakikiisa ng mamamayan sa masusing pagbabantay ng bawat proyektong ating pinopondohan [But for the system to be truly effective, we also need our people to keep vigilant watch of each project that will be funded],” Aquino added.
Under the present PDAF system, each of the 24 senators could receive P200 million annually, while over 280 members of the House Representatives could get 70 million pesos each.
On Friday, the President has decided to abolish the controversial pork barrel of lawmakers following the alleged misuse of public funds.
According to Aquino, the events of the past weeks have highlighted the need for tougher action in fighting those who are determined to abuse the system.
He was referring to the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) that from 2007 to 2009, P6.156 billion from the PDAF of close to 200 lawmakers were channeled to dubious non-government organizations (NGOs).
The COA findings tended to support accusations against Janet Lim Napoles, the businesswoman perceived to have masterminded the irregular PDAF disbursements.
“It is time to abolish PDAF,” Aquino said. “Now, we will create a new mechanism to address the needs of your constituents and sectors, in a manner that is transparent, methodical, and rational, and not susceptible to abuse or corruption.”
“Together with Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Sonny Belmonte, I will make sure that every citizen and sector will get a fair and equitable share of the national budget for health services, scholarships, livelihood generating projects, and local infrastructure,” the President said.
From now on, all the projects proposed by legislators will go through the budgetary process.
“If approved, these projects will be earmarked as line items, under the programs of your National Government. In this way, they will be enacted into law as part of our National Budget—every line, every peso, and every project open to scrutiny, as with all other programs of your government,” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE