A performance-based release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to beneficiaries has been pushed by Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo of Camarines Sur province, the wife of the late and highly-revered public servant Secretary Jesse Robredo.
A day after the Million People March calling for PDAF abolition, Robredo disclosed that she intends to use her PDAF allocation as a Performance Incentive Fund wherein the access to PDAF will be based on the performance of a barangay, municipality or a city in providing for education, health, livelihood and good governance.
As a result, the non-performing government units will still get PDAF allocation but they will not be prioritized over those who are performing well.
“When I wasn’t a public official, I am for the abolition of PDAF. But when I got elected, I began to understand that part of my job is to take care of my constituency. That is what PDAF is for, so that the aid will come to the countryside,” Robredo said during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan Forum.
“We recognize the fact that PDAF has been used for patronage politics because of the discretion of the Congressman so I want certain standards [for PDAF release]. I want indicators so I can measure if the development targets are met, and in turn the government will be forced to perform so they can access the [PDAF] fund,” Robredo added.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd has earlier scrapped the lump sum P27 billion PDAF allocation under the P2.268 trillion proposed budget for 2014 amid the ongoing probe of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the alleged P10 billion worth of PDAF granted to bogus non-government organizations ran by businesswoman Janet Napoles.
The new guidelines for PDAF releases are still being determined by the Executive, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of Quezon City and Senate President Franklin Drilon.
Robredo underscored that such massive PDAF misuse transpire because of the wide discretion of the lawmakers’ on the projects and the beneficiaries they want to benefit from their PDAF allocation.
Under the old system, each House member is entitled to P70 million a year. A member of the Senate has a higher allocation of P200 million annually.
Robredo underscored that the projects and beneficiaries to be funded by PDAF should be determined by the District Development Council (DDC), not by the lawmaker.
The Camarines Sur legislator’s proposed DDC will be composed of the mayors of the districts, peoples organizations and NGOs, representative from the provincial government, provincial board members representing the district, representatives from national government agencies and representatives from the Liga ng mga Barangay in the district.
The DDC will determine what projects and who are the beneficiaries of the PDAF allocation of the district representative. Thereafter, the lawmaker will recommend the projects for PDAF funding before the Department of Budget and Management en route to the release of the budget.
“As a lawmaker, I don’t want to decide on the things that should be funded by PDAF because naturally, that will be subjective. You will tend to prioritize those who are close to you, or those good in convincing you [to fund their project]. My proposal removes such wide discretion so that the PDAF won’t be vulnerable to patronage politics,” Robredo, a lawyer, argued.
“For one, I would rather prioritize the indigent families for scholarships because they need it more,” she added.
Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento of Western Samar province agreed with Robredo, saying that her proposition augurs well with the President’s position which subjects the PDAF allocation to line item budgeting or identifying its proceeds and seeking Congressional approval for it.
“It is the people who should ultimately decide on the initiatives that they need and needs funding from the government. We are mere facilitators of growth here,” Sarmiento added. LLANESCA T. PANTI