THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Wednesday revealed that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers under President Benigno Aquino 3rd is higher compared to the time of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because it included both “soft” and “hard” projects.
In a statement, the DBM pointed out that the PDAF during Arroyo’s term only covered “soft projects” which focused on education, health, livelihood and social services—mostly for scholarships, basic health care services, small infrastructure
projects and training programs.
The “hard” projects under Arroyo, which include building of roads, bridges and schools among others, were classified under Department of Public Works and Highways’ Congressional allocations for Various Infrastructures including Local Projects (VILP)”, and were not under lawmakers’ PDAF.
The DBM said that when the Aquino administration started in 2011, the budget system was reformed and “consolidated both soft and hard projects under the PDAF.” The VILP still exists but it no longer includes congressional allocations.
The agency added that the move to combine soft and hard programs in the PDAF is to facilitate efficiency management of Congress allocations as well as “transparency and accountability” in using the fund.
The agency explained that the consolidation aimed to control “congressional insertions” where lawmakers would request for additional projects to be added in their districts “during budget deliberations.”
According to the PDAF figures from 2008 to 2013 provided by the DBM, the Aquino administration’s PDAF increased from 2011 to 2013 but settled on the P24-billion range, while the Arroyo administration increased rapidly each year from 2008 to 2010.
Under Arroyo, the 2008 budget accounted to P19.9 billion, P21.77 billion in 2009 and P24.16 billion in 2010. Under the present administration the PDAF allocation was P24.62 billion for 2011, P24.89 billion for 2012 and P24.79 billion for 2013.
The DBM said that the congressional allocations soared over the years “because of the creation of additional 10 districts during the last year of the Arroyo administration,” while the Aquino administration has created a sole district so far which was included in the register of the House of Representatives at present.
In earlier reports, the DBM indicated that former budget secretary Rolando Andaya was quoted that the standard PDAF ceiling of P70 million for Representatives and P200 million for Senators was “institutionalized” in the national budget only in the present administration.
“President Arroyo could choose who and how much to give to each congressman or senator which explains why some have more than others in the COA [Commission on Audit] report. But under this administration, everybody gets the P70 million or P200 million every year,” Andaya earlier said.