THE pork barrel scandal has seriously damaged the credibility and integrity of Congress but former senator and now rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson believes that members of the Senate and House of Representatives can recover from the controversy through “self-cleansing.”
Lacson noted that the credibility of Congress lies in the behavior of its members. The pork scam, he said, arose from the way lawmakers used their annual priority development assistance fund (PDAF).
“This is a good opportunity for self-cleansing and to fix everything that needs to be fixed and be a role model for other institutions,” Lacson told Radyo ng Bayan in an interview on Monday.
The former lawmaker said there would have been no anomaly had senators and congressmen focused on crafting laws.
Lacson stressed that the pork barrel system was the biggest source of corruption in Congress.
The former senator is among the very few members of Congress who refused to touch his pork barrel. Until the PDAF was abolished last year, each senator had an annual “pork” allocation of P200 million while congressmen were allotted P70 million each.
As early as 2003, Lacson has been calling for the abolition of the PDAF system, saying lawmakers were elected to craft “good laws,” not “to accept fat checks to enhance our bank accounts.”
Lacson even made a presentation on how PDAF is being divided among lawmakers and other agencies of the government and based on his presentation, 20 percent of the project cost was earmarked for the legislator who identifies and funds the project.
But Lacson’s figures were different from what was discovered by the Commission on Audit and the testimonies of some witnesses who claimed that some senators got anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent of the project cost in kickbacks or commissions.
When Lacson delivered his speech calling for the abolition of the pork barrel system, Sen. Franklin Drilon, then the Senate President, did not act on his recommendation.
Lacson last week disclosed that he has in his possession documents from Janet Lim Napoles that contains details of the pork barrel operation and the names of lawmakers and other government officials who benefited from PDAF.
He, however, said he would make the documents public if Justice Secretary Leila de Lima “sanitized” her own list of lawmakers who allegedly got commissions from the use of their pork barrel.