MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives on Tuesday said it would file a bill that would scrap pork barrel funds and urged fellow legislators to support the proposed measure.
“Pork barrel is the source of graft,” Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares told reporters at a press conference.
He said that this justified their move to have the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) abolished.
Lawmakers have earlier been tagged in a supposed decade-long pork barrel racket, which received P10 billion worth of PDAF from members of both chambers of Congress.
“Whether those involved [in the pork barrel scam] are allies of the administration or not, they should be investigated,” Colmenares said.
The group said that it wants a full-blown investigation not only on members of the legislative branch but also on executive agencies.
“And the investigation cannot take forever,” he added.
ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio said that the time is ripe to talk about abolishing the PDAF at the beginning of the 16th Congress, just when it was about to start deliberating the 2014 national budget.
“After SONA (State of the Nation Address), the next agenda will be the 2014 budget,” he said.
In the 15th Congress, there was much talk about some lawmakers not receiving their pork barrel and Tinio said his partylist did not receive PDAF in 2012 and 2013.
“Some of us in the Makabayan bloc received pork barrel, some did not,” Colmenares said.
But whether members of the Makabayan bloc, a group within the House which is composed of five militant partylists, received their pork barrel or not was not the issue, insisted the Bayan Muna lawmaker.
“The issue here is that pork barrel is the source of corruption,” he said.
But if the PDAF will be abolished, Colmenares said that it should be scrapped from all levels of the government.
“That’s fair treatment. All budgetary items allocation [including] pork barrel [funds] should be scrapped,” he said.
The Makabayan bloc also challenged President Benigno Aquino III to get rid of PDAF in the 2014 national budget.