Budget insertions feared if pork barrel is abolished

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Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—If pork  barrel funds  will  be  scrapped, legislators might just resort to congressional  insertions, which are  more difficult to  monitor, a senator  warned  on  Wednesday.

Senator  Vicente “Tito” Sotto  III  made the remark as more  sectors, including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of  the Philippine, backed the  proposed abolition of lawmakers’ Priority Development  Assistance Fund (PDAF), popularly known as the “pork barrel.”

While he expressed readiness to give up his own pork barrel,  Sotto  warned  that Congress, without a legitimate PDAF,  would  start  incorporating their projects in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

“On a personal level, I have no problem with the abolition of the PDAF. It will actually solve my problem on the number of requests from more than 1,600 cities and municipalities plus the provinces, wherein I have difficulty in approving most of their projects,” Sotto said in a text message.

“The only concern is the problem that will arise when Congress, in the absence of a legitimate PDAF, will start inserting their projects in the GAA. That will be difficult to monitor and will surely be messy,” he said.

“Congress holds the power of the purse, so unless we find a better solution, we should review the possibilities first,”    Sotto added.

Instead of abolishing  the pork barrel, which has become a source of corruption among lawmakers, Senator  Francis “Chiz” Escudero  said he was in favor of “stricter  guidelines and monitoring”  of  the funds.

“I am used to not getting any pork during the time of GMA. I can live without it,” Escudero said in  a separate text message, referring to former President and now Pampanga Representative  Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“But I am in favor of stricter guidelines and monitoring. This of course does not mean that we should forget about past abuses. All must be made to account for it,” he said.

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