Sotto gives up P200-M pork in Senate speech
MANILA, Philippines—Indicating “discomfort” over how the alleged misuse of the pork barrel funds has placed Congress in a bad light, Sen. Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday formally swore off partaking of the congressional largesse for the remainder of his term.
In a privilege speech, Sotto jumped the gun on his colleagues, most of whom have indicated their agreement with President Benigno Aquino III’s plan to abolish the P25-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) but have yet to decide on how to go about scrapping the pork barrel system.
Sotto read the letter that he wrote Senate President Franklin Drilon on his intention to give up his P200-million entitlement under the PDAF.
“I write to formally inform you that I will forego the allocation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund intended for my office in the succeeding years of my tenure,” Sotto said.
“My decision is intended to forestall any further controversy that may arise in the use of the PDAF, particularly that it is a vehicle for corruption and that it is used to fund ghost projects,” he added.
Allotments to SUCs
The Senate deputy minority leader, nonetheless, set aside the remaining half or P100 million of his pork barrel allotment for 2013 to specialty and regional hospitals, and to the University of the Philippines and other state colleges and universities.
“In the past, the release of our office’s allocated PDAF was solely prompted by the pleas of help and assistance from the LGUs (local government units) and the public. I could not have in good conscience and as a public servant, ignored our countrymen’s clamor for such,” Sotto said.
He said he set aside P50 million of his remaining entitlement for 2013 to “all specialty and some regional hospitals of the government whose list is hereby attached, so that no patient may die for lack of money to get proper medical attention.”
The P50 million that he set aside for the state educational institutions was “for tuition augmentation of those who cannot afford it, so that no student may think of suicide for lack of funds to take an exam.”
Sotto was apparently referring to UP student Kristel Tejada who took her own life after being forced out of school because of her family’s difficulty to pay her tuition, among other reasons cited in the investigation.