LP exec: Pork barrel scam a ‘criminal partnership gone awry’

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Western Samar Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento. Photo from http://www.congress.gov .ph

MANILA, Philippines — A Liberal Party (LP) official on Thursday maintained that there was “no politics” in the alleged P10 billion “pork barrel scam”.

Western Samar Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento, secretary-general of the LP, said that the issue was a mere smokescreen for a “criminal case.”

“Politics definitely has nothing to do with it,” he said.

Sarmiento refuted statements that the pork barrel scam was an administration-backed demolition job against members of the opposition.

“This is a simple case of a criminal partnership that went awry–a simple case of people or groups of people fighting over their loot. I will not even be surprised if it will turn out that some of these senators and congressmen who are being dragged into this mess are victims themselves,” he said.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and several House members said that the menu for the allocation of their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” was “quite strict” as it had been reduced several times in the 15th Congress.

Marikina Representative Miro Quimbo said that Belmonte and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad wanted to make sure that there were measures in place to ensure that the PDAF could not be abused.

This was what Sarmiento reiterated, saying that the practice of allocating lawmakers’ pork barrel to non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs) was barred since 2011.

“It was under the Aquino administration that this dubious practice of allocating PDAF to NGOs and POs was stopped. It was removed from the menu of projects which are eligible for PDAF support,” said the LP official.

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