MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives will scrap the lump sum Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and realign the amount to various social service agencies, said Committee on Appropriations chair Rep. Isidro Ungab on Sunday.
“We’ve proposed to scrap the PDAF as lump sum allocation. It will go to basic services under the executive department, such as health, education, social services, employment generation, technical skills training and local infrastructures,” the Davao City representative said in a statement.
Ungab’s assurance came as plenary debates on House Bill 2630 or the 2014 General Appropriations Bill, which proposes a P2.268 billion national budget for next year, starts on Monday.
The statement reiterated House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s earlier announcement that the P25.2 billion PDAF will be integrated into the budgets of implementing agencies.
Belmonte said the new scheme will ensure transparency and accountability.
President Benigno Aquino III on August 23 announced the abolition of the PDAF, following strong public clamor against the graft-tainted pork barrel fund.
However, lawmakers could still identify or recommend projects for their constituents.
Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said “Aquino was only trying to fool the public when he announced that he would abolish the PDAF.”
KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog said the PDAF will only be realigned to agencies “that have the reputation of being corrupt and are headed by close allies of the president.”
“We have every reason to doubt that the people’s money will continue to end up in the bathtubs of corrupt politicians and their accomplices in this new pork barrel scheme,” Labog said.
On Monday, Ungab will give his sponsorship speech of HB 2360 before proceeding with the debate on general principles and provisions of the general appropriations bill.
Cebu Rep. Gabriel Luis Quisumbing will then present the proposed budgets of the Department of Finance, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC). The DOF and NEDA’s budgets will include that of attached agencies and corporations.
Ungab said the Appropriations committee is right on track and was able “to finish the budget hearings on time.”
Meanwhile, House Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao said he was certain they will pass the budget bill on time.
“We did that in 2010, 2011 and 2012. I think we would do it again this year,” he said.