President’s proposed ‘pork barrel’ fund ‘not that big, only P22B’—AbayaBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino’s proposed Special Purpose Fund for 2013 is not P317 billion but P22 billion, said Cavite Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya, who heads the House committee on appropriations.
In a media briefing Thursday, the incoming Transportation and Communications chief denied that the fund was that big and said that their panel had met with former national treasurer Leonor Briones, the convenor of Social Watch Philippines, which earlier bared the alleged P317 billion fund, also known as pork barrel. “Naligaw kayo sa media, it’s only P23 billion; kasama sa P317 billion ang calamity fund, GOCCs and other unitemized funds. The calamity fund (is something) you can never itemize.”
“Budget Secretary (Florencio) Abad said that these are supposed to be lodged in the departments… The departments were not able to give the detailed breakdown due to time constraints,” said Abaya, pointing out that once the breakdown has been submitted, the budget can be inserted in the general appropriations bill. The Department of Budget Management will submit an erratum on the breakdown of the fund from the agencies, he said.
If the agencies fail to present the breakdown of the said funding, Abaya said that these will not be included in the 2013 budget, which is being deliberated at the House of Representatives.
“We intend to do away with lump sum fund para pagdating January 1 the procurement process will be short of award na,” he said.
Asked about the possibility that the special purpose fund could be used for the elections, the Cavite lawmaker maintained that he was confident that was not the case. “It won’t be used for the elections.”
On the issue that only the President had discretion over the said funding, Abaya maintained that “there wouldn’t be such a provision” and added that funds for other agencies were merely included there “due to time constraints.”
Zambales Representative Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay on Wednesday called on the administration to bare the said P317 billion fund, saying that she was wary of the fact that the President had the sole power over the said budget. Abaya maintained that there was no such provision, stressing that only the President could determine where the special purpose fund would be used.
“Apparently, mukhang napagdugtong-dugtong lang. No specific provision can be cited. (Legislators’ pork barrel) is not under the SPF,” said Abaya.