COTABATO CITY: The elected leaders from Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) opposed the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), well known as “pork” subsidy, though anything related to “pork” is haram or forbidden in Islam.
Abolishing PDAF would not solve corruption and that the fund can instead be restructured with “safety nets” because it supplements subsidies in the impoverished autonomous region, said Gov. Mujiv Hatam of ARMM, a former party list representative.
Hataman believed that scrapping the fund would only worsen poverty in ARMM, which covers the poor provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao said that PDAF subsidies should be focused on gray areas of community development such as education, which his office has been addressing alone sans any counterpart from allotments coursed through congressmen. So far, PDAF had helped link up his province to Internet.
Gov. Mamintal Alonto-Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur expressed similar sentiment, saying PDAF has been effectively complementing development efforts in his province.
One thing he objected is the use of term “pork,” suggesting its replacement by a tag inclusive to all religions.
Adiong is son of the late undefeated Lanao del Sur governor and former three-term Rep. Mamintal Adiong Sr. and is elder brother of former acting Gov. Ansaruddin of ARMM, now a neophyte congressman of the province’s first district.
Earlier, elected officials of PDAF-beneficiary-communities in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi were reported as expressing concern against compounded “deprivation” in their villages if the widely reviled fund is scrapped. Both provinces now have two neophyte Congressional representatives.
For her part, Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza of North Cotabato, a former three-term member of the House of Representative, expressed a neutral stand.
She said Congress should “listen” to the call of anti-PDAF protesters, adding though that any group or individuals involved in the misuse of the “accommodation” fund should be dealt with in “due process.”
Rep. Nancy Catamco of North Cotabato (Second District), meanwhile, explained that a P13-million portion of her PDAF allocation had not been spent because of disagreements in its implementation for reforestation.
Moh I Saaduddin