The approval of the P22 billion supplemental budget by the House appropriations panel marks the return of the pork barrel system, opposition lawmakers said on Wednesday.
House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list and Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list expressed issued the statement following the speedy approval of the P22 billion supplemental funding for 2014 which only took a day.
Colmenares was particularly irked with the grant of P2.8 billion for the Operational Transformation Plan for the Philippine National Police, as well as the P1.9 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction which is for updating the list of the Conditional Cash Transfer program beneficiaries.
“Elections are near. How sure are we that the P2.9 billion is not for guns, goons and gold? As for the P1.9 billion for National Targeting System, it puzzles me that they want this in December. They are updating their list in December? This is lump sum, which is pork barrel,” Colmenares said in a press conference.
The Supreme Court declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in November 2013.
“This supplemental budget is pork barrel because pork barrel is defined as government funds which beneficiaries are decided upon by a single individual,” Colmenares noted.
The lawmaker said the lump sums in the budget should only be limited to calamity fund, intelligence fund and contingency fund.
“If it is lump sum, you can realign it anytime,” Colmenares argued.
Tinio, for his part, contended that the P22 billion supplemental budget is constitutionally infirm since the charter provides that the supplemental budget should come from new sources of revenue.