MANILA, Philippines — Another senator on Thursday moved for the scrapping of the legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” amid public outcry against their alleged misuse.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero filed Senate Resolution No. 193, “expressing the sense of the Senate to abolish the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) and its allied congressional initiative allocation collectively known as ‘pork barrel’.”
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano also announced Wednesday that he would file a concurrent resolution, calling for the abolition of the PDAF.
With the Commission on Audit “confirming the gravity and extent of the pork barrel abuse and the strong calls of the people to scrap the source of the public outrage,” Escudero said it was now time to totally scrap the pork barrel.
“The PDAF should now be abolished in general,” he said in the statement.
“The people have spoken and it is necessary to draw the line further between public accountability and patronage politics by being truthful to the constitutional allocation of powers and prerogatives,” he said.
Escudero said Congress should just limit itself to the enactment of the national budget and the executive to its implementation.
The PDAF, he said, was supposed to fund the needs of every Filipino on a priority basis as identified by the national government but it has now “mutated into a multi-billion racket allegedly perpetrated by syndicates in both the public and private sectors.”
“Despite proper use and disbursement by well-meaning public officials and despite its statutory laudable purpose, the misconception that the pork barrel has become a form of ‘horse trading’ and a major source of corruption in the government is apparently starting to become real in the eyes of the Filipino people,” he lamented.
Escudero then threw his support behind the anti-pork barrel protest on August 26, saying everyone was equally responsible to guard the public coffers.
But while he supports the move, the senator said, he would stay away from the event so as not to politicize it.
“That is the people’s event; it’s their voices that must be heard. I will always carry their voice to the Senate. I am hoping that no one will take advantage of it and paint it with their political color because frankly, I don’t think the people will allow it,” he further said.
Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, immediately initiated an investigation into the pork barrel scam when the Philippine Daily Inquirer came out with a series of investigative reports on the alleged irregularities in the use of the PDAF.
The Senate is set to start its investigation on the matter next week.