The seven-strong Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives has refused to recommend infrastructure projects for their constituents that will be funded by the portion of the P25 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) realigned to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
Rep. Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list made the announcement on Tuesday, referring to the new scheme wherein each House member will be allowed to recommend infrastructure projects worth P24.5 million subject to the scrutiny and approval of the DPWH.
Per Secretary Rogelio Singson of the DPWH, each project should cost at least P2 million, limited to level 1 or 2 water supply, multipurpose or classroom building and should be finished and useful within a year.
“Speaker [Feliciano] Belmonte [Jr.] already said that there were only 287 our of the 294 House members who submitted their recommendations. The seven who did not submit are us [in the Makabayan bloc],” Tinio said in a press conference.
Makabayan bloc—which has filed a bill which seeks to abolish PDAF and other discretionary funds of the President—groups party-list Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Luz Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus of Gabriela, Terry Ridon of Kabataan, Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis and Tinio.
“We did not submit because It is clear that the public wants the pork barrel system abolished,” Tinio added.
The recommended projects of the lawmakers that will be approved by the DPWH will be listed in the General Appropriations Act or Budget bill before the House approves it on third reading by October 21.
Zarate, for his part, noted that the new policy did not abolish the PDAF but only padded the Executive’s discretionary funds thru realignment.
“The pork was only realigned. It was reduced from the P70 million, but it is still pork. Come December, a lot of people will line up in Malacañang to ask for pork because it was reduced in the House. The pork is alive and kicking,” Zarate argued.
“The entitlement of recommending projects and identifying its beneficiaries is still there so there is still pork. The public doesn’t want this because it breeds graft and corruption and political patronage,” Colmenares added.
In closing, Ilagan invoked that the new system would eventually just end up with another name, just like what happened in the 1990s when the Countrywide Development (CDF) was changed to PDAF after the looting of millions worth of CDF was exposed.
“It would be difficult for them [lawmakers]to let go of something they enjoyed and continue to enjoy these days because that would be political suicide, especially that baranagay elections are nearing,” Ilagan said.
The House of Representatives realigned the P25 billion PDAF provided under the proposed P2.268 trillion budget in light of the expose and the prosecution of at least 38 individuals in connection with the P10 billion PDAF scam that allegedly benefited the fake entities owned by Janet Lim-Napoles. LLANESCA T. PANTI