THE Senate can still use its embargoed portion of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for calamity victims even if the Supreme Court declared the pork barrel unconstitutional, Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Sunday.
In fact, Drilon said, the Senate will present a resolution today expressing the desire of the Senate to realign the remaining PDAF allocation of all senators and add it to the calamity fund of the government.
According to Drilon, even if the constitutionality of PDAF is being questioned at the High Court, the funds can be realigned as savings.
“Even if the Supreme Court declares that it [PDAF] is unconstitutional, we can still use it because realignment is being allowed by the Constitution,” Drilon said in an interview on DZBB.
The Senate held a caucus last week to discuss how to raise funds to help the victims of recent calamities, including the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Central Visayas.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., admitted in an earlier interview that senators have been swamped with requests for assistance but their hands were tied by the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Court that stopped the release of pork barrel funds.
Marcos said that aside from giving assistance to areas affected by the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, the Senate also wants to provide relief to those affected by Typhoon Santi in Central Luzon and the siege in Zamboanga City.
The TRO stopped the release of the congressional PDAF for this year as well as non-energy related releases from the Malampaya funds.
Drilon maintained that the Senate can dip into the pork barrel as long as the releases will be used to beef up the calamity fund.
He added that it is the executive that can realign the PDAF and transfer it to the calamity fund even without the authorization of Congress.
At least P12.27 billion of the lawmakers’ PDAF for the second semester of this year had not been released, according to the Department of Budget and Management.