MAJORITY and Minority Senators on Tuesday supported President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s decision to suspend the release of the pork barrel funds of lawmakers until the investigation on the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assitance Fund (PDAF) is completed.
Senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny”Angara, Loren Lagarda, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, and Antonio Trillanes 4th of the majority bloc all agreed with the president’s move saying it would give the executive and the legislative time to introduce major reforms on the pork barrel system.
According to Angara, the temporary suspension of PDAF release is a good idea as the Senate is also planning to institute changes in the system to make PDAF use more transparent and make corruption easier to detect.
Legarda also welcomed the President’s directive saying she will also support any move to abolish the pork barrel system.
“I was really not going to use my PDAF for the next six years or until the end of my term,” Legarda said in a text message sent to The Times.
Pimentel finds the President’s pronouncement as a good and logical idea as response to the public clamor against PDAF.
Trillanes, for his part, said that suspension of PDAF releases would enable the executive department to introduce the necessary safeguards to prevent the fund from being misused and abused. Deputy minority leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd and Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan also have nothing against the decision of Malacañang noting that it is the prerogative of the President.
The Senate majority bloc will come up with a resolution that would temporary suspend the utilization of their respective pork barrel funds until such time the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) comes up with stricter and more effective implementing guidelines on the release and use of the PDAF.
The resolution, which will be introduced by Senate President Franklin Drilon, is a collective decision of the senators in the majority coalition to show their sincerity in making the use of the PDAF more transparent and open for scrutiny of the public that will help prevent the abuses and inadequacies which were observed in the Commission on Audit (COA) report.
“It is consistent with the expressed desire of senators to effect reforms in the use of the pork barrel funds in order to prevent the preponderance of abuses and malpractices in the use of the PDAF,” Drilon said.
The Senate president noted an urgent and unmistakable need to institute reforms to improve the PDAF system in view of the findings made by the COA on its special audit report of the PDAF releases from 2007 to 2009.
Drilon cited some findings of the COA which he said needed to be addressed immediately by the Executive Branch through the DBM. Among these are 1) inadequacies in the monitoring of the releases of PDAF for priority projects identified by legislators; 2) lack of periodic assessment of the projects included in the PDAF menu; and 3) inadequacies in the release of the PDAF for projects without completed documentation and/or outside the aforementioned menu. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA