Quantcast
SONA 2013
Latest Stories

Tightened policies on pork in Aquino Sona

By

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda PHOTO/INQUIRER

Jumping the gun on the lawmakers, Malacañang is submitting to Congress next week “policy recommendations” to tighten up the rules on the disbursement of funds from the graft-tainted pork barrel.

The measures include limiting the menu of projects that can be funded by pork, accreditation of the civil service organizations by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and limiting the number of implementing agencies, according to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

But if Sen. Franklin Drilon, touted to be elected Senate President in the 16th Congress, would have his way, the pork barrel could simply be taken out of the national budget instead of passing a new law that would abolish the program, now at the center of a scandal involving P10 billion in patronage funds allegedly siphoned off by a businesswoman, Janet Lim-Napoles, through bogus NGOs using her extensive connections in Congress and in the government.

Next Tuesday, a day after his address to a joint session of Congress, President Aquino will submit to Congress the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014, which contains a separate item worth P27-billion for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.

No Aquino stand yet

The so-called Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines have called for the abolition of the PDAF following the disclosure of a government investigation of the racket that involved the shares of the pork of five senators and 23 representatives.

Lacierda told reporters on Thursday that Aquino had not yet taken a position on the matter.

“We have not discussed it with the President, so I am not in a position to say what the position is. However, my understanding (Wednesday) in the press briefing of (Budget) Secretary Butch Abad, (is) that they have made some policy recommendations … to the President,” Lacierda said.

He tossed back the question of abolishing the pork barrel to Congress.

“We wouldn’t want to wade into that debate because that’s primarily the call of [the legislators],” he said.

Lacson, Arroyo did it

“(Former) Sen. (Panfilo) Lacson did it. Is it something that is worth emulating? That is the call and discretion of each and every legislator,” he said.

Former Senators Lacson and Joker Arroyo did not collect their share of pork during their terms, from 2001 to 2013.

Drilon agreed that abolishing the pork barrel is a matter only for Congress to decide.

“This is a decision of both Houses. If one House does not agree, then you cannot abolish (the pork barrel), which is part of the general appropriations act,” Drilon told Senate reporters on Thursday.

It is also unnecessary to pass a new law to abolish the PDAF, he said.

“We just have to delete (the PDAF) from the (general appropriations act) and it will be gone,” he said.

Long shot

But that is a long shot, Drilon said, as legislators, especially the members of the House, need funds to finance projects for their constituencies.

“I think the only way is to limit the use of the PDAF so we can minimize the abuses and the misuses of [the fund],” he said. “In other words, be very strict with the menu to minimize what are perceived to be the abuses of the PDAF.”

But Sen. Grace Poe wants the introduction of regulations to stop the abuses.

Speaking to reporters in Mabalacat City after launching a program for the families of migrant workers, Poe said she and Sen. Francis Escudero had filed a resolution for an investigation by the Senate blue ribbon committee of the pork scam allegedly orchestrated by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Poe said the National Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Justice should be given a free hand in investigating the racket.

“If the allegations of a scam are true, then [an investigation] in aid of legislation is really needed to prevent [a repeat of this scandal],” Poe said.

While President Aquino has not taken a position on the pork controversy, he appears to be not keen on letting go of his own pork barrel.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Tuesday that Aquino had a lot of uses for the President’s Social Fund, which channels assistance to the families of soldiers, policemen or government workers killed in the line of duty.

New procedures

Lacierda told reporters that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) headed by Abad had made some recommendations on the procedure for the release of pork barrel to the projects of senators and members of the House.

“What’s in the budget is (the proposal for) accreditation, but we are putting together some more recommendations—limited menu, limited implementing agencies, etc.,” Abad said in a text message.

The additional recommendations will be presented to Congress during budget hearings, he said.

“There’s a policy recommendation of accrediting the CSOs (civil service organizations) with the DSWD, subject to a standard to be determined by the DBM and DSWD,” Lacierda said.

Under the pork barrel system, each senator is allotted P200 million, while a House member gets P70 million.

Lacierda said that the matter of deleting the pork barrel item from the budget bill is up to Congress.

“Remember, the GAA (General Appropriations Act) is a law in itself. If it’s passed, it becomes a law. So Congress decides …. We just submit our budget,” he said.

“The budget goes through a lengthy process by the House and the Senate to review and question the budget. So we will have a budget season right after [the State of the Nation Address],” he said.

The matter of abolishing PDAF, then, should be left to the “discretion” of the legislators, he said.—With a report from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

Originally posted at 10:01 pm | Thursday, July 18, 2013


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


SONA 2013

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Benigno Aquino III , Congress , Government , Graft and Corruption , National Budget , PDAF , Philippines , Pork barrel , pork barrel scam , pork scam , SONA 2013 , tightened pork barrel rules




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. US teacher fired over comment on black president
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. Filipinos, Dane re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  4. Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  5. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Massive infra spending set
  8. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  9. Easter crucifixions draw huge crowds
  10. Korea ferry captain arrested, divers spot bodies
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem
  • Tanchanco, former NFA head; 83
  • Pope seeks to bring faith to ‘ends of the Earth’
  • Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  • Positive in UAE, returning Filipino nurse tests negative
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Ateneo eyes quarterfinal spot vs Benilde
  • Style contrast marks OneFC ‘Rise of Heroes’
  • ‘Pacquiao a great ambassador for basketball’
  • Lifestyle

  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  • Entertainment

  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Awarded TV couple brings Jesus’ life to the big screen
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement