Latest Stories

Abad says Malacañang can’t go vs Congress power of the purse

...Lawmakers may identify projects but these will go through budget process


The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) will remain in the budget proposal for 2014 and will be totally scrapped only the following year, Malacañang said on Sunday.

However, it said lawmakers could still identify their pet projects in whatever form or shape the PDAF, or pork barrel, takes.

When the executive department starts preparing the 2015 budget as early as December this year, there won’t be an item for the PDAF, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

“In 2015, there’s no more PDAF. There’s no need to put a block of money there,” he said in an interview by phone. “There won’t be any other name for it because it won’t be there.”

While the President announced the abolition of the PDAF on Friday, the executive department retained the P25.2-billion allocation for the PDAF in the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014 because this had been programmed for social services and infrastructure.

Malacañang, however, indicated that the lawmakers’ discretion in “nominating” projects to line agencies crafting the national expenditure program would not be clipped. After all, Congress has the “power over the purse,” Abad said.

He advised strident proponents of the complete removal of such discretion to talk this out with the lawmakers themselves. Congress is a coequal branch of government, he said.

“They want to exclude the congressmen. How can you do that when Congress is there to perform that function?” he said.

Power of the purse


Such power includes “determining what projects to fund, whether there’s pork barrel or not,” he said. “The power over the purse is a constitutional obligation. It’s not as if they can forgo it.”

Abad observed that the “distrust” caused by the P10-billion pork barrel scam had “clouded” this power.

The President’s announcement on the PDAF abolition had been met with skepticism by many who observed that he missed the point when he continued to grant lawmakers’ discretion to identify projects.

In a turnaround from an earlier stand, Aquino declared on Friday that it was time to abolish the PDAF, admitting that its “scandalous” misuse persisted despite the reforms he instituted.

The President asked Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to devise a mechanism to address the needs of constituents in a “transparent, methodical and rational” manner.

From now on, Aquino said the lawmakers could identify and suggest projects in their districts but this had to go through the budgetary process. If approved, the projects would be earmarked as “line items” in the national budget.

2 options

Abad said the challenge facing senators and representatives was to figure out how to allocate the P25.2-billion allocation for the PDAF after some lawmakers indicated they would forgo it.

If all 24 senators would abandon their pork, that would be P4.8 billion less. Apart from them, representatives had indicated the same intention, Abad said.

“We really don’t know where it will lead. We need to talk to the legislators and figure out how to configure this. This is going to be a much reduced budget. Are they going to pursue this? What if civil society wants to participate in identifying projects?” he said.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us in the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to get people to understand the budget process and once they are able to do this, find ways by which they can participate in the process,” he said.

Abad admitted that there were two options on the PDAF: Keep it intact and use it for line budgeting, or completely do away with the P25.2 billion.

The first is unacceptable while the second is not practical since reelected legislators are still supporting students. The middle ground is a reduced P25.2 billion, Abad said. “So where are we going to put the balance? That’s the question that will face Congress.”

‘Reasonable discourse’

In an exclusive interview with the Inquirer last week, Aquino explained how his government was handling the alleged pork barrel scam.

“The first step is to find out exactly what transpired, who were involved, what loopholes were exploited, what are the actional instances for us,” he said. “Then, where to bring charges, against whom. The prioritization. Do we scrap it or introduce reforms? How about those who manage to put it to good use, will they still have the ability [to access such funds], as opposed to those with bad intentions and shouldn’t be able to [access].”

Asked if he felt public outrage against the elected officials’ misuse of the people’s money, he said, “yes,” adding, “but also, you’re after a reasonable discourse.”

Asked about Monday’s rally, he replied: “They are free to rally, [to decry] the abuse. I agree with that and support that. But at the end of the day, I cannot stop at sloganeering. Our function as the executive is to execute the laws… toward that, to find the quantity and quality of evidence to warrant conviction.”—With a report from Thelma S. San Juan

Originally posted: 7:14 pm | Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Department of Budget and Management , executive department , Florencio “Butch” Abad , Graft and Corruption , Janet Lim Napoles , Malacañang , mass protest , News , Office of the President , Philippine Government , Plunder , Politics , Pork barrel , pork barrel scam , Priority Development Assistance Fund , protest , rally

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  2. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  7. Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  8. South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  9. Two Popes who would be saints
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  9. Massive infra spending set
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  5. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  6. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  7. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Marketplace