Malacañang will not let go of the President’s Social Fund (PSF), regarded as the presidential version of the “pork barrel.”
In a press conference on Monday, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the PSF undergoes regular state audit.
”The question is in the context of misuse. It has been audited. The President’s Social Fund has been audited in the same manner that the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] has been audited,” he said.
”We know all these—all these reports are all out there. It’s all out there [on]the website, you can see the websites,” Lacierda added. “We are very transparent. The audited reports of the PSF is all there.”
Lacierda said the President’s calamity fund also stays, and will only be scrapped “when you abolish typhoons and storms.”
”Can we abolish typhoons and storms? [If yes] I’m for the abolition of the calamity fund,” Lacierda said.
Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte, earlier said that unlike the discretionary fund allotted to lawmakers, the PSF is not vulnerable to abuse.
”From the time the President assumed office, safeguards have been put in place to make sure that the funds from the PSF go to its intended use,” Valte said.
The PSF is a source of financial aid for the families of soldiers, policemen or government personnel killed in the line of duty, and its distribution is transparent, she said.
In his speech during the commemoration of National Heroes’ Day at Fort Bonifacio, the President said the new system will be stricter to ensure that “the people’s money can only be used for the people.”
”We will do everything in our power to find those who conspired to take advantage of the PDAF’s good intentions, and to hold them accountable,” the President said.
“We will not allow anyone to be used to propagate the corrupt practices of a few. We will make certain that the mistakes of the past are not repeated so that we may further ascertain that the people’s money is spent properly,” he said.
Last week, the President announced the abolition of the controversial pork barrel of lawmakers following the alleged misuse of public funds.
According to Aquino, the events of the past weeks have highlighted the need for tougher action in fighting those who are determined to abuse the system.
He was referring to the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) that from 2007 to 2009, P6.156 billion from the PDAF of close to 200 lawmakers were channeled to dubious non-government organizations (NGOs).
The COA findings tended to support accusations against Janet Lim Napoles, who allegedly masterminded the irregular PDAF disbursements.
Yesterday, Malacañang said the PDAF had been abolished and it won’t resurrect under a new name.
“It’s been abolished. We will not see PDAF in 2014,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters. “Let’s not make any guessing game on the name of the new PDAF. There’s no such thing as new PDAF,” he added.
Lacierda explained that allocations under the lawmakers’ names will simply follow the names of programs or projects that they are funding under each implementing agency.
”It will all be found in the [projects]. The projects will be found in the respective departments,” he said.
The President, he said, has tasked the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) headed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, COA Chairman Grace Tan and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Lacierda said the old system was prone to abuse.
”You’ve got a former president desperate to hold on to power; you’ve got congressmen immersed in a culture of transactionalism, a bureaucracy co-opted and coerced, a lack of transparency in the system, a passive and disengaged citizenry,” he said.
The Aquino administration, he said, is reforming the old system through a new mechanism mentioned by the President earlier.
”We are reforming that. We are changing that,” Lacierda said, stressing that the abuses in “the PDAF existed primarily because of the environment of corruption that existed.”
”Habang ginagawa po ang ating proposed national budget, legislators already will propose specific projects to be implemented only for their specific districts and for their sectors. These will be included in the proposed budget as specific line item budgets in place of the lump sum,” Lacierda pointed out.
Lacierda said that only after the General Appropriations Act is approved and during the budget implementation year can legislators identify projects to be implemented using their PDAF allocation.
The PDAF requests, he said, will then be submitted to the House Committee on
Appropriation or the Senate Committee on Finance and then to the Department of Budget and Management.
The Budget department will review if the PDAF requests meet requirements.
If they do, the funds are released to the implementing agency like the Department of Public Works and Highways for infrastructure projects.
”There will be notices of bidding. All the contractors who are interested to bid will participate in that bidding and there will be a notice of award,” he said.
The release of funds will now be called SARO (Special Allotment Release Order) and NCA (Notice of Cash Allocation).