Lawmaker received PDAF ahead of Corona conviction

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One of the lawmakers who has consistently advocated for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel has received his entitled PDAF in 2012.

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In a statement, Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list admitted that he received P10 million worth of his PDAF in April 2012 or ahead of the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, 20-3, before the Senate impeachment court.

Corona was convicted of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for his failure to truthfully declare his assets in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth from 2001 to 2010.

“I did not receive any SARO from DAP. I received additional P10 M SARO under continuing appropriation in April 2012. We availed of the additional funds to fill the significant amount of our unreleased PDAF for the needs of our marginalized constituents,” Colmenares, lawyer and one of the prosecutors of Corona, said in a statement.

SARO is the Special Allotment Release Order while DAP is the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)—a government fund released to various lawmakers after the Corona conviction per the announcement of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad.

DAP is pooled savings from unused budgetary items or lower-than-expected expenses of state agencies. The DAP was thrown to the spotlight after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who is facing a P183.8 million plunder case before the Office of the Ombudsman, disclosed in a privilege speech last week that his colleagues in the Senate P50 million each in the aftermath of the conviction of then Chief Justice Corona.

Colmenares then argued that PDAF fund releases, including the DAP, won’t sway Bayan Muna to deviate from its previous positions on impeaching then President Gloria Arroyo, former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and Corona.

“Bayan Muna has shown its consistency and determination to impeach Arroyo, Gutierrez and Corona borne out of our principles and not for any monetary or pork considerations. Because of our stand, Arroyo denied us pork for five years but we do not regret it,”

Colmenares said.

“The DAP issue, however, shows the generally rotten character of the presidential and congressional pork. We must abolish the pork barrel system now,” Colmenares added. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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