Representative Atienza joins move to scrap pork barrel

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Buhay partylist congressman-elect Lito Atienza . INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—It was not just the Makabayan bloc which wanted the pork-barrel system abolished, Buhay Party-list Representative Lito Atienza sees as unconstitutional how lawmakers were given access to the said funds.

Citing the 1987 Constitution, Atienza said that while lawmakers were allowed to “appropriate” from their portion of the priority development assistance fund (PDAF), it did not state that they were allowed to spend the pork barrel.

“The Constitution provides that Congress can appropriate but it doesn’t say they can spend it,” he said.

The party-list lawmaker said the power to appropriate and access to the PDAF should be separate.

“We fought this back in 1984 in the Batasan and we will definitely move against the PDAF this time,” he said.

A series of reports by the INQUIRER bared an alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam involving lawmakers and bogus nongovernment organizations.

The issue has prompted the Makabayan bloc to file a measure seeking to abolish the pork barrel system despite knowing that such a move would be met with much opposition in the House of Representatives.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and several members of the House maintained that the PDAF was important in extending assistance to their constituents.

But so far, no resolution has been filed seeking a congressional inquiry into the alleged pork barrel scam.

“Congress should prioritize this issue as this questions its integrity. We cannot buckle down to work effectively without tackling this issue. The scandal has been exposed, we can’t close our eyes or turn our heads. Let’s confront this and make a decision,” Atienza said.

He said that it would be best if they could resolve the issue so they could “concentrate on crafting meaningful, quality legislation rather than spending time worrying about our PDAF.”

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