The Senate, especially Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, thinks that it is about time to cut the ‘pork.’
Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes, and laws said Wednesday the Senate is ready to cut pork barrel of senators and congressmen in half for 2014.
The pork barrel for 2014 will further be cut in half by 2015 until it is finally abolished by 2016, according to Santiago, who filed a Resolution calling for the phasing out of the pork barrel by 2016.Under Santiago’s proposal, the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF will be phased out as follows: (a) For senators: From P200 million to P100 million in 2014; P50 million in 2015; nil in 2016; and (b) For congressmen: From P70 million to P35 million in 2014; P15 million in 2015; nil in 2016.
At present, the PDAF allocated to each senator is P200 million per year, and P70 million to each congressman per year.
For a full term of six years, a senator is expected to receive P1.2 billion, while a congressman is expected to receive P210 million for each three-year term. In practice, some receive more, others less, than their regular pork barrel.
“Of course, the best solution is to discontinue the pork barrel system by reducing what has been proposed by the President in the 2014 budget for PDAF to zero,” Santiago said.
“Senators and congressmen are expected to pass laws and exercise oversight functions over the Executive Department’s implementation of existing laws,” she further said.
“We are not expected to build roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects,” she added.
Not public works contractors
She also explained that many voters would expect their congressman to ‘bring home the bacon’ to the district, in the form of capital projects which can be done by availing of the pork barrel.
“We are legislators, not public works contractors,” Santiago said. “People look up to us to make serious laws that could change the lives of a great number of people or could change the way society is run or managed.”
Santiago said that by deleting the appropriations for PDAF, the President cannot resurrect it through line item veto.“Reducing the PDAF appropriations to even one peso is dangerous, because then the President may choose to augment the peso appropriations with several billions which is allowed under the Constitution,” she added.
Santiago has high hopes that her proposal for the total abolition of the pork barrel will meet strong opposition in both the Senate and the House.
“This is why the second best solution is to gradually phase out the PDAF. This will give senators and congressmen time to adjust to the new rules,” she said. PNA