Recto: Here’s the beef

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Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Saturday suggested that “beef” is better than “pork” as he raised the possibility of realigning the billions of pesos set aside for the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) or pork barrel into something that answers to the name BEEF.

Recto on Saturday proposed that a good portion of P26-billion for the PDAF be realigned to put more teachers, classrooms, science labs and even meals for malnourished children in public schools.

“If plans to scrap the P26-billion PDAF in the proposed 2014 national budget will push through, then a big portion of that amount must go to education,” Recto said in a statement.

Recto proposed a name for the rechanneled pork—Basic Education Enhancement Fund or BEEF.

“But seriously, the idea is for education to hog—pardon the pun—whatever will become of the PDAF, should Congress decide to take it out of the budget,” Recto said.

“The work now is how to pound pork barrel into schools, computers, laboratory equipment and even kitchens that will serve meals to malnourished pupils,” Recto added.

Recto’s suggestion came almost a week after the Senate committee on finance approved the P336.9-billion budget proposed for the Department of Education (DepEd) in 2014.

It also came on the heels of a Senate resolution filed by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara calling on the Senate to allocate half of its P4.8-billion share in the PDAF to fund education sector reforms.

In his statement, Recto described education spending as the one that “gives the best social ROI (return on investment).”

“All development blueprints are one in saying that investing in education is the best building block for progress,” Recto said.

Recto said that while next year’s proposed DepEd budget of almost P340 billion will finance a never-before-seen classroom-building and teacher-hiring-spree, “backlog in other areas will remain and new needs will be created.”

“And this can be erased by a rechanneled PDAF. So that when taxpayers ask Congress, “Where’s the pork?” it can reply, ‘Here’s the BEEF,’” Recto said.

“For example, according to the DepEd, half of the 38,503 public elementary schools lack computers,” Recto said.

“When it comes to math and science laboratories, although there is a P2.6-billion proposed allocation for these in 2014, we’re still far from the halfway mark in providing all schools with one,” Recto added.

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