MANILA, Philippines—The raging controversy over the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam has led to the scrutiny of a mammoth “off-budget” allocation under the discretion of President Aquino—the Malampaya Fund.
Described as “one big presidential pork,” proceeds from the fund have ballooned to P173 billion since 2002, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said on Wednesday.
Of the amount, P38.8 billion had been spent for projects unrelated to energy development, he said.
Colmenares said this was the case because the law allowed the President to allocate Malampaya proceeds to projects of his choice without approval from Congress, which holds the so-called “power of the purse.”
“So how does the President choose who gets (the allocation), which district gets one, what project and how much?” he said in a press conference.
“Our assumption here is—and I was trying to deliver the message—this is presidential pork and this is not a good way of spending public funds.”
Colmenares noted that while the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of National Defense got P8 billion and P7.3 billion from the Malampaya Fund, respectively, the Department of Education got only P5 million.
The Department of Science and Technology was even more unfortunate with only P400,000, he said.
House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora warned “all sorts of abuses” could take place “if nobody is going to exercise overview or review functions.”
By Colmenares’ reckoning, Malampaya proceeds allowed agencies like the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to spend funds other than those allocated to them in the General Appropriations Act.
He said another possible source were the “unobligated allotments” collected by the Department of Budget and Management in the middle of the year.
Last year, he said the DOE had a budget of P1.2 billion but actually spent P1.7 billion. The DOJ was allocated P8.6 billion during the same year, but its total “obligated” fund amounted to P10.3 billion, he said.