MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday joined public’s clamor for the scrapping of legislators’ priority development assistance funds (PDAF) or “pork barrel” funds.
Cayetano, at a press conference in Greenhills, San Juan City, said he would file a concurrent resolution in the Senate, calling for the scrapping of their PDAF.
“The continued presence of the PDAF in the national budget is viewed by the public as an unwillingness of the legislature to address the many abuses and instances of corruption in the system and an unwillingness to heed the voice of the Flipino people for dramatic change,” he said in a resolution, a copy of which was distributed to the media after the presscon.
“The continuous practice of discretionary lump sum appropriations for PDAF projects will always be a symbol and source of corruption for legislators,” he said.
Thus, Cayetano said, there was an urgent need for “drastic” reform.
“To enable Congress to fully pursue its primary function, which is to legislate laws that will benefit the majority of Filipinos especially the poor and marginalize, the pork barrel system must be abolished,” he further said.
In lieu of the PDAF, Cayetano proposed a “non-discretionary and specific line item appropriation system through the General Appropriations Act” that will be equitably distributed across the various regions, provinces, legislative districts, cities, and municipalities starting next year.
With regard to the Senate’s decision to probe the alleged irregularities in the use of PDAF, Cayetano also proposed an independent investigation by a “special, independent” investigator in the person of former Senator Panfilo Lacson.
He said he would file another resolution, authorizing the Senate blue ribbon committee to appoint the special, independent investigator, who would look into the PDAF scam.
The blue ribbon committee headed by Senator Teofisto Guingona III is set to start its probe into the controversy next week.
“The blue ribbon committee needs an independent and credible special investigator who can assist it to ferret out the truth, pursue leads, make factual findings and find evidence so that the guilty can be charged and the innocent can clear their names, while maintaining its credibility and impartiality,” he said in the resolution.
Cayetano believes that Lacson was right for the position, citing the latter’s refusal to use his PDAF when he was still a senator.
Lastly, Cayetano requested the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit of his PDAF from 2010 to present.
“With the recent controversies involving the misuse of the PDAF, I have taken it upon myself to request for this Special Audit out of respect for the right of the Filipino people to know how their money is being spent,” he said in his letter to COA Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan.
The senator likewise urged his colleagues from both houses of Congress to do the same.
“The best way to resolve the issue is for everyone to come clean. No excuses. No exemptions,” he said.
“Let’s open our books. Let’s not hide anything,” Cayetano said during the presscon.
Originally posted at 2:04 p.m.