Look who’s talking.
The ruling Liberal Party (LP) 3rd riposted at the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) for accusing the Aquino administration of granting P1.9 billion of campaign funds to former Sen. Manuel Roxas 2nd amid the alleged involvement of UNA members in the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.
LP Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento of Western Samar and Ben Evardone were referring to the P1.9 billion budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) provided under the proposed 2014 budget. The P1.9 billion was alloted for change adaptation (P76 million), potable water supply for waterless municipalities and barangays (P573 million) and housing for informal settlers in Metro Manila (P1.25 billion).
Sarmiento and Evardone noted that these allocations were provided under the DILG budget since the time of the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo because the DILG Secretary serves as the vice chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
“These initiatives have long been funded under DILG, since 2010. How come that UNA is questioning this only now? Is it because UNA leaders are linked to Napoles?”
Sarmiento, the head of the House contingent to the powerful Commission on Appointments said.
Sarmiento was alluding to the earlier disclosure of whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Merlita Suñas that Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada granted their PDAF funding to bogus nongovernment organizations ran by fugitive Janet Napoles.
Per these whistleblowers, Estrada used P286.8 million of his PDAF for Napoles’ NGO, while Enrile had P469.3-million worth of his PDAF used for a Napoles non-state entity.
Sarmiento then argued that the projects funded by the P1.9 billion allocation for the DILG is in compliance with the Philippines’ commitment to the Hyogo Framework for Action or the 10-year plan approved by the United Nations to make the world safer from disaster and hazards, as well as the Millennium Development Goals which is a global commitment against poverty, hunger and diseases.
“It is clear who benefits from this budget: the informal settler families who need relocation and the low-income families. Masama ba na tulungan sila [Is it bad to help them]?” Sarmiento, the LP secretary general, stressed.
“There is nothing anomalous in these allocations. Instead of politicking, UNA leaders should do their part in saving the lives of our people living in the danger zones,” Evardone, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, added in closing.
Roxas was LP’s Vice Presidential bet during the 2010 Presidential elections but he narrowly lost to then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay. Roxas’s electoral protest against Binay’s 2010 win is still pending before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
Llanesca T. Panti