THE remaining P14.6 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers, which is on hold because of a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC), will be used to rehabilitate areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, according to Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad.
“We’re very appreciative of our legislators’ decision to waive their remaining PDAF in favor of using these funds for the government’s disaster relief operations. The staggering extent of the damage that Yolanda caused has already been widely reported, and the daunting but necessary work of rehabilitating all affected areas will require us to tap as many proper fund sources as possible,” Abad said.
“We look forward to the High Court’s decision on the legality of the PDAF, and are likewise hopeful for a positive outcome so we can beef up our resources for our relief efforts,” he added.
According to Budget Director Rowena Candice Ruiz, the pork barrel for this year will be declared as government savings.
“If the SC lifts the TRO, the unused funds may be declared as government savings, which the President may use to augment the calamity fund for relief and rehabilitation operations for the victims of Yolanda. Otherwise, the PDAF will remain unused and will not carry over to the next fiscal year, due to the one-year limit on the validity of appropriations,” Ruiz said.
A proposal to Congress to lift the “one-year lapse period” of appropriations for a fiscal year was already submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in hopes to extend the effectivity of calamity and contingency funds as well as the total P1.7-billion Quick Relief Funds (QRF) among others.