Abad defends retention of President’s pork

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Budget Secretary Florencio Abad INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad on Saturday defended the presidential pork barrel, saying it is necessary so the Palace could act swiftly during emergency situations.

Amid allegations that the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers was funnelled to dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs), President Benigno Aquino on Friday announced that “it’s time to abolish pork.”

Aquino’s speech in Malacañang garnered criticisms from several groups, public officials and netizens questioning the P449.95 billion worth of President’s Social Fund (PSF) earmarked for the 2014 national budget.

The budget chief backed the lump sum nature of the presidential pork, saying it is needed to allow the Palace to respond promptly to “emergency situations.”

Included in the presidential pork funds are:

  • Calamity fund for typhoon victims
  • Contingency fund for overseas Filipino workers affected by unrest abroad
  • Money for emergency response by the police and the military
  • Pension funds
  • Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of LGUs
  • Debt servicing

“It is not practical for the executive branch to go to Congress during an emergency situation to get the appropriate budget that’s why special funds are created in the budget,” he said.

Abad appealed to those “claiming to be experts on the budget” to stop putting the President in bad light by muddling the issue on the abolition of the pork barrel system.

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