The Palace has remained adamant in keeping Special Purpose Funds (SPF) under the discretion of the President a few hours after the House of Representatives retained such Presidential discretionary fund when the House approved the proposed P2.268 trillion 2014 budget on second reading on Saturday morning.
Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte was referring to the SPF which includes: Budgetary Support to Government Corporations (P71.65 billion), Allocations to Local Government Units (P361 billion), Calamity Fund (P7.5 billion), Contingency Fund (P1 billion), DepEd Edcuational School Building Program/Education Facilities Fund (P1 billion), E-Government Fund (P2.4 billion), International Commitments Fund (P4.82 billion), Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefits Fund (P80.7 billion), Pension/Gratuity Fund (P120.4 billion), Feasibility Studies Fund (P400 million), Customs duties and taxes, including tax expenditures fund (P26.9 billion) and Debt Service Fund Interest Payment (P352.65 billion).
“We have explained, in a number of times, the rhyme and reason for the existence of the President’s discretionary funds. We have seen it out to use with what happened in Zamboanga City which was obviously unforeseen. There has never been an allegation of misuse of such fund under this administration,” Valte pointed out in an interview with state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
Valte was referring to the Zamboanga City conflict wherein a faction of the. Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari staged a violent takeover of the City by sniper attacks, taking hostages as human shields, burning houses and schools, among others, in declaring their independence. The Zamboanga crisis ended on Friday, but the incident has displaced at least 120,000 families and killed a number of civilians and state soldiers.
“I have to point out that the President is the head of the Executive department, and it is expected that the President can respond to circumstances and various crisis confronting the country, He needs a certain flexibility in spending his income,” Valte added.
The P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam which alleegdly benefited the fake entities owned by Janet Napoles has prompted the House to realign the P25 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to various agencies. The amount was broken down to: P3.691 billion for the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education (10 percent for DepEd and five percent for CHED), P3.691 billion for Department of Health (15 percent), P3.691 billion for the Department of Labor and Employment (15 percent), P4.713 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (20 percent) and P9.654 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways (35 percent).
Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, earlier announced that the SPF won’t be touched by Congress.
“Calamity fund is needed because we can’t predict the number of typhoons that we deal with every year. The same goes for Contingency fund, considering the volatile situation in the Middle East,” Ungab argued in closing, alluding to the armed conflicts in Arab countries that require the government to repatriate overseas Filipinos to keep them away from harm. LLANESCA T. PANTI