• Pork declaration draws mixed feelings

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    MIXED reactions came from opposition and administration lawmakers over the Supreme Court’s declaration of the remaining 2013 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as “unconstitutional.”

    Minority Leader Rep. Ronaldo Zamora (San Juan) said they are not completely surprised as he lauded the SC’s decision as a “stepping stone to a transparent and accountable national budget.”

    “We have said that lump sum appropriations have no place in the budget. We have said that the itemized appropriations are the way to go if you want to have a transparent and accountable budget,” Zamora said.

    House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the decision was not because the PDAF was a lump sum fund but because of the principle of the separation of powers as the lawmakers should not be allowed to meddle with the approved budget.

    “This in fact is a clarification,” Belmonte said. “It’s not the only thing that holds the coalition together. I think they can carry on with their jobs and adjust to the new guidelines.

    While anti-pork lawmakers and anti-pork advocates are rejoicing, administration lawmakers are lamenting the SC decision. Samar  First District Rep. Mel Sarmiento said that the verdict is a ‘huge blow’ to the relief and rehabilitation efforts of areas devastated by Super Typhoon YolaInda.

    He likened the SC decision as the return of Yolanda. Sarmiento said: “while all the sectors of society are in a frenzied mood to look for resources to support the typhoon victims, the SC appears to be insensitive to our situation.”

    This was how Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar—one of the provinces severely hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda—as well as the rest of his colleagues took the unanimous High Court decision of deeming PDAF or the congressional discretionary fund illegal via a 14-0 vote.

    “It’s like Yolanda has returned with that decision . . . a big blow to our efforts to raise fund for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the areas affected by Yolanda. While all sectors of society, both locally and internationally, are scrambling to look for resources to support the typhoon victims, the Supreme Court appears to be insensitive to our situation,” Evardone said in a text message.

    Minority and Makabayan bloc members Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers Party-list and Rep. Terry Ridon Kabataan Party-list welcomed the High Court’s decision and said that it is an “essential milestone” in the campaign against huge discretionary funds of the government.

    “This is a defeat for Malacañang which has all the while argued for so-called ‘good pork.’ It soundly repudiates the argument put forward by President Aquino himself that PDAF is good and only its abuse is bad,” Tinio said.

    Ridon was quite unhappy that the SC barely touched on the Malampaya funds and the Presidential Social Fund (PSF), those directly controlled by the president or what critics call the ‘presidential pork.’

    “Just as what we noted previously, the president is the pork barrel king, and he has vast control on over P1 trillion in public funds,” Ridon said.

    Like his colleagues from the Makabayan bloc, Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said that he is glad that the SC has put to a stop “a major source of corruption that has taken away much needed funds from the people.” He also hoped that the same would happen to the fate of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

    The SC’s decision on PDAF is much like Super Typhoon Yolanda returning  and wrecking havoc to people and properties.

    Evardone was referring to the earlier move of the House of adopting a Resolution which transferring P12 billion PDAF under the P2.006 trillion budget to the Calamity Fund resulting from Yolanda that brought several provinces in the Visayas to ground zero, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and the Zamboanga siege led by the Misuari faction of Moro National Liberation Front.

    “The SC should have been more considerate. At the very least, it should have deferred its ruling. Congress should appeal this decision,” Evardone added.

    Reps. Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmariñas and Romero Quimbo of Marikina, for their part, saw public opinion as the game changer, considering that plunder and graft-related charges have been filed vs. former and incumbent government officials before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the P10 billion PDAF scam—a scheme that allegedly funneled state coffers to bogus organizations owned by Janet Napoles.

    “It is high time that Congress crafts a specific line item budgeting process that will ensure the needs of the indigent constituents in the different districts that have been the main beneficiaries of the PDAF, at least in my district. To deprive them of this assistance is another catastrophe that can be prevented,” Quimbo added.

    But for Rep. Mel Senen of Western Samar, the SC\s decision is academic as Congress already removed the PDAF item under the proposed P2.268- trillion budget.

    “It’s moot since we removed PDAF in the 2014 budget and realigned PDAF for the response and recovery program for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, Bohol earthquake and the Zamboanga incident,” Sarmiento said.

    Quimbo, however, invoked that it is hard to argue against a unanimous decision.

    “I’ve been a practicing lawyer for quite some time and experience tells me that there is no sense appealing a unanimous en banc decision of the Supreme Court. It’s going to be a waste of time. While it has been shown that most members of the current congress has used the PDAF judiciously, we suffer from the ill practices of some of our colleagues,” Quimbo said.

    “For the stability of democracy, Congress must now take the lead in respecting the decision of the Court,” Quimbo added.

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    17 Comments

    1. Joemar Lang-ayan Mabutas on

      It was a good decision coz most of our govt officials are terrific corrupts. And now, that is already abolished,i don’t think there are people who will happy to run if they think for money not for the good of the people.
      Anyway,even if the PDAF already declared by the SC unconstitutional,the govt still finds a way on how to get for rebuilding the cause of Yolanda.Like what they say,”If there’s a will,there’s way”.

    2. Public fund must create a centralized system which all transaction will be publicly introduced and transparent to all people. There is a special group that will manage and approved all the projects submitted by the authorized person of every barangay, municipality and government agencies. All the approval will be sent to the office of the President for the final approval. All the projects must have a details posted in the place where the project is and all the workers must be in the that barangay or municipality. All the bidding will be transparent publicly. Money is the root of all evil. Don’t let the fund be handled by all the politician. the worked of politician is to serve people, to create a system that will benefits all the people who trusted them. They are in the position to serve people and help the Philippines to succeed. PDAF will help a lot to all the project need for our country. But the system will be change. PDAF must be a centralized fund and not be handled by the politician.

    3. Kayo Ang Boss Ko! on

      Sabi ng mga makakapal ang mukha: kawawa naman ang tinamaan ng bagyong Yolanda, kagaya namin!
      Sabi ng ayaw sa PDAF: buti nga sa inyo, mga suwapang kasi kayo gaya ng alipin naming si Pnoy, Mar, Drilon, Abad, at Belmonte!
      He he he!
      Pati mga nasalanta ng Yolanda, ginagamit ninyo!
      Si Quimbo naman akala mo di magnanakaw, pwe!

    4. andres a. ellasos jr on

      may gana pang umapela ang ilang myembro ng kamara,para maiba ang desisyon ng SC,ang kakapal talaga ng mukha,ikinakatwiran pa ang mga nasalanta ng bagyong yolanda,mga scholar nila at mga mahihirap na pasyente.alam naman natin na kaya tumatakbo ang karamihan sa politika ay dahil naman talaga sa perang kanilang makukurakot.Napakalaki ng kanilang inilalaan na gastusin para sa halalan,para pambili ng boto,syempre saan ba naman nila ito babawiin kundi sa pera rin ng bayan o mga taxes na binabayaran ng mga kapwa ko PILIPINO.MABUHAY ANG LAHAT NG MYEMBRO NG SUPREME COURT!

    5. wilfredo m.taopa on

      GOODBYE TO THE LIKES OF NAPOLES AND COMPANY, HER FRIENDS BOTH AT THE SENATE ANG CONGRESS NA LAGING NAGLALAWAY SA LAKI NG PORK BARREL.
      Malamang iyong matitino na lamang na pulitiko ang kakandidato sa susunod na halalan. Mawawala na ang mga pulitikong yumayaman dahil sa PDAF kaya buong pamilya gusto na pumasok sa pulitika. Hayahay ang matitinong pulitiko. Goodbye sa mga kurakot. Mawawala na rin sa wakas ang mga Napoles at Kaibigan.

    6. don’t be too confident yet , people keep your guards up for any big time maneuvers by the politicians . they may have a perfect pitch coming up after the Supreme Court’s decision . keep your eyes open for any possibilities these guys can do .

    7. I think the decision of the SC is to declare unlawful the system where legislators are given a say on the disbursement of funds which is essentially an exxecutive function. I dont know what evardone and quimbo are complaining about saying even that the SC is insensitive for denying funds for the rehabilitation of the typhoon and eathquake victims. The money is still there and can be used for such purpose through an apropriate legislation from congress so what gives?

    8. JuanDelaCruzlll on

      Thanks to the Honorable Supreme Court. They will be remembered in the history for giving true justice to their countrymen.

      • wilfredo m.taopa on

        matuwa ang madlang Pilipino. tama na sobra na ang pag aabuso ng mga pilitiko sa kaban ng bayan. goodbye to some like Lani Mercado Revilla and others who would help only because of her millions PDAF. good bye sa mga trapos, aktors and actress na pumapasok sa pulitika dahil sa PDAF.

    9. this is good news to all taxpayers like me, and bad news for those who take the pork as for themselves not for the people. i hail the supreme court justices for their good conscience to announce PDAF and DAP unconstitutional. the goverment has a department agency that takes care for calamities, and other social welfare’s need? what’s the purpose of DSWD?

    10. Roldan Guerrero on

      There is no HERO or SAINT in both houses of the Phil. Congress. So does with the Executive Department. They are all DEMONS AND PLUNDERERS Both branches of the government conspired to an act that left the country in a perennial situation of poverty and a failed state.

    11. BAD FOR THE THIEVES…NO QUESTION ABOUT IT..NOW START THE AUDIT OF PAST PORK MONEY…PITY ARE THOSE WHO SPENT MILLIONS TO RAN FOR OFFICE FOR THE PORK MONEY NOT FOR THE PEOPLE, BET THEY CRYING NOW HOW TO GET BACK THAT MONEY

    12. Disappointed ang mga TRAPO dahil ang investment sa pagtakbo Purnado. Lugi at talo ang mga ugok sa PDAF. Karamihan tumatakbo dahil sa pera, hindi para maglingkod sa bayan. Thank you SC.