DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Former Pangasinan Representative Ma. Rachel Arenas spent P35 million of her pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) outside her district in 2012 and early this year, according to records of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
A list of e-fund releases posted on the DBM website (pdaf.dbm.gov.ph) showed that Arenas spent P15 million of her P70-million PDAF allocation in 2012 for various projects in Abra province and Manila.
In January this year, at the start of her last six months in office, the DBM website said Arenas released P20 million to fund various projects in Compostela Valley and again in Manila.
But Arenas denied this, saying she did not give her pork to other areas outside Pangasinan’s third district.
“Being the biggest district in terms of population and almost the biggest in terms of size, the funds are so not enough to meet the needs and requests of my constituents. Therefore, it is most illogical to even think of using them outside the 304 barangays of my district,” Arenas said in an e-mail statement to the Inquirer.
Pangasinan’s third district consists of San Carlos City and the towns of Bayambang, Malasiqui, Calasiao, Sta. Barbara and Mapandan.
Arenas filed her certificate of candidacy for the May elections to seek her third term unopposed but later withdrew to give way to her mother, Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas.
According to the DBM website, a total of P10 million from the younger Arenas’ PDAF was released on Nov. 16, 2012, as financial assistance to various government programs for Manila’s fifth district.
The bulk of the amount was a P4-million scholarship fund for some 1,600 beneficiaries from the district.
She also allotted P3.5 million as financial assistance for the implementation of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Service program in the Manila district.
A total of P1 million was used to pay for uniforms and sports equipment in Barangays 791 and 796 in Manila, and another P500,000 was given to Barangay 796 as a “social services” fund.
The remaining P300,000 was given to the Philippine Orthopedic Center for use of indigent patients in Manila’s fifth district.
On Dec. 13, 2012, P5 million of the younger Arenas’ pork was spent for road projects in 50 villages in eight Abra towns, the DBM website showed. Each village was given P100,000 for the project.
From her P70-million pork this year, P10 million was spent in Compostela Valley province’s first district on Jan. 24.
The DBM said P4 million was used for a medical mission while P3 million funded road repairs in six villages of New Bataan, Montevista and Monkayo towns in Compostela Valley.
Another P3 million was used to buy galvanized iron sheets for the repair of government buildings destroyed by Typhoon “Pablo” in that province.
On Feb. 5, 2013, another P10 million was released from Arenas’ pork to finance the sports and social services programs of two villages in Manila’s fifth district.
A P5-million social services fund was given to Barangay 791 while P2 million was given to Barangay 791. Both villages also got P1.5 million each as financial assistance for their basketball and volleyball tournaments, barely three months after both villages received P500,000 each for the same purpose.
Arenas also said that most of her projects were “hard projects.”
“I categorically say that maybe 95 percent or almost all of my PDAF allocations were spent on hard projects or infrastructure [projects] that are quantifiable, tangible and verifiable,” she said.