Aquino urged anew to let go of presidential pork

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Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares on Friday urged President Benigno Aquino III “to let go” his presidential pork from the Malampaya Fund and channel this instead to a proposed pension fund for barangay officials.

“The Malampaya Fund is a much-abused presidential pork barrel because its disposition merely rests on presidential discretion,” Colmenares said in a statement.

He said the direct hand-over of the fund to presidential allies had resulted in its misuse in graft-ridden projects.

To avoid this, the party-list representative said his group had refiled House Bill No. 180 or the barangay pension fund bill in July, which would mandate the use of the Malampaya Fund for pension benefits among barangay officials.

Pension fund

“The bill provides for a lump sum pension of about P50,000 for every year of service among barangay officials who have retired from government service,” Colmenares said.

He described as “discriminatory” the lack of pension among village officials, saying that “while the military is being allotted billions of pesos each year [as] pension, Congress and Malacañang [have] consistently refused to fund the pension of barangay officials, even if they perform similar government functions.”

Colmenares said the Malampaya pork had been used in nonenergy-related road projects in the districts of presidential allies, while nearly P2 billion of it was spent by the Philippine National Police on irregular contracts during the previous administration.

Milking cow

“Now, we found out that P900 million was again lost on ghost projects,” the Bayan Muna representative said.

“The Malampaya Fund has become a milking cow and has enriched corrupt politicians while the people [are] suffering and [cannot] even afford three meals a day,” he added.

Colmenares said that to avoid the misuse and abuse of the fund, President Aquino should stop drawing money from it.

“It is about time that the Malampaya Fund be saved from marauding politicians and put in an item, which could not be reached by the corrupt and the greedy,” Colmenares said.

He said that under the proposed law, the “absolute discretion” given the President to allocate the Malampaya Fund to any project he wants will be repealed because it “leads to irregularities or [the] discriminatory allocation of funds to presidential friends and pet projects.”

Colmenares said President Aquino could manifest his seriousness about his budgeting principles if he let go of his presidential pork in the Malampaya Fund and “give barangay officials something to look forward to after they retire.”

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