The House of Representatives on Tuesday gave up its rights over the remaining 2013 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which is under temporary restraining order (TRO) by the Supreme Court, for the immediate relief and rehabilitation of areas wrecked by super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).
In House Joint Resolution No. 7 filed on the same day, the House leadership waived all their rights over the unreleased balance of the PDAF amounting to around P12 billion and authorized the executive department to “realign the same to calamity fund.”
“The members of Congress express their desire to assist the victims of these disasters and help in the speedy post-disaster recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of the provinces affected by the disasters,” said the resolution that was introduced by both members of the majority and minority bloc.
Once the Senate version of the resolution is approved, the PDAF will be tagged as savings so it can be realigned by the president.
The SC issued a TRO against PDAF, also known as the pork barrel, on October and is set to expire at the end of December.
“We are waiving that and we have informed the Solicitor General to make representation with the Supreme Court that we are not interested to it anymore but provided that the same is realigned by the executive to the calamity fund,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said in a press conference.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers are also considering to realign P10 to 20 billion of the 2014 national budget for the relief and restoration of provinces badly affected Yolanda. However, since the 2014 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) is still pending at the second reading in the Senate, the amendments would still be proposed at the bicameral committee meeting in December.
“Nonetheless, Congress should take in due of this tragedy, the calamities that has been happening to the country we decided to create the initiative to create the fund,” the Speaker said.
“We will see to it that the 2014 budget would not be passed without the rehabilitation plan.”
The lawmakers also filed House Resolution No. 446 urging all the members of the House to donate P10,000 each to the victims that will be deducted from their salaries. This was also done during the Zamboanga siege in September.
He appealed to big business owners, particularly to the typhoon-struck areas, to donate and if possible, distribute their perishable commodities to the typhoon victims.
The Batasang Pambansa in IBP Road, Quezon City is open as a donation center. JHOANNA BALLARAN