• ‘Pork abolition will not stop corruption’

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    SENATOR Antonio Trillanes 4th said he believes that corruption will continue even with the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)  of lawmakers.

    This is because members of Congress have the authority to introduce their respective amendments or budget insertions to the national budget.

    Trillanes said the scrapping of PDAF will give rise to rampant budget insertions during budget deliberations.

    “So if you ask me will the corruption stop? No, I don’t think so. It will still be there but we will not be able to see it,” Trillanes said at the weekly Kapihan sa Senado news forum.

    The Supreme Court has ruled that the pork barrel system is illegal.

    Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate finance committee, meanwhile allayed fears that legislators will resort to “budget insertions.”

    Unlike in the past where some budget insertions were done behind closed doors, Escudero said this time, the public will know the identity of lawmakers who proposed budget amendments.

    “We opened that all up for the 2014 budget and will continue to do so for subsequent budgets, ” he told The Manila Times.

    Escudero said budget deliberations and the bicameral conference will be open to the public and will be streamed live on the Internet to promote transparency and encourage the public to be involved in the deliberation of national budget.

    Senate deputy minority leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said the public need not worry about budget insertions because all amendments introduced by senators in the budget are being monitored by the finance committee head.

    He noted that it is difficult to stop or prevent budget insertions or amendments.

    Recovery

    Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the credibility and integrity of the Senate may have been damaged with allegations that some senators were involved in the pork scam but senators cana recover from the scandal.

    “I am certain that the institution can recover, because we continue to look and help in the search for the truth in this issue,” Drilon told the Times.

    The Senate head was referring to the continuous senate investigation of the PDAF scam being conducted by the senate Blue Ribbon committee.

    Former senator Panfilo Lacson said the abolition of the pork barrel system is a good step towards reform.

    “It [pork abolition]will help the Senate and the lower house regain its old luster and glory,” Lacson said in a text message.

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