• Binay asks Senate to remove his Social Fund in 2014 budget

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    GIVING weight to the negative public perception against the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday reiterated his request to remove his P200 million social fund in the 2014 national budget.

    Binay formally requested the Senate Committee on Finance chaired by Sen. Francis Escudero to remove the P200 million social fund of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in the general appropriations act next year.

    “Considering the public’s perception on the use of PDAF and other lump sum items in the national budget, I reiterate my position to have the proposed P200 million allocation for locally funded projects of my office removed and the full amount deducted from the national budget for 2014,” Binay said in a letter to Escudero.

    The vice president issued the call in light of the decision of the House of Representatives to allocate PDAF commonly known as pork barrel fund of lawmakers and the OVP’s social fund as additional funding for government line agencies.

    Binay earlier expressed his intention to remove his social fund during the hearing of the proposed budget of the Office of the Vice President last September 11.

    He also asked the Senate to look closely into the inclusion of lump sum items in the national budget.

    In his letter to Escudero, Binay said removing lump sum allocations of government agencies would assure Filipinos that government officials are committed to serve with transparency.

    “I earnestly seek the support of my fellow public servants in the Senate to take action on the issue of continued inclusion of lump sum items in the appropriations law by removing all lump sum allocations of other government agencies in the national budget to show our steadfast resolve to listen and respond to the public’s call for greater transparency and accountability,” Binay said.

    The Vice President previously allocated part of the OVP’s P200-million social fund for the construction or repair of senior citizens’ centers nationwide.

    From 2011 to 2012, the OVP bankrolled the construction or repair of 500 senior citizens’ centers. Around 200 more are expected to be built this year.

    Part of the fund was also used for the Vice President’s scholarship grant-in-aid program.

    Binay said that since he assumed office, the locally-funded projects of the OVP have all passed the scrutiny of the Commission on Audit (COA).

    RITCHIE A. HORARIO

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