MANILA—The congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund may have been “abolished” at the committee level, but two key allies of President Aquino made one more pitch on Tuesday for the controversial lump sum appropriation, also known as pork barrel.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali want the Supreme Court to lift the temporary restraining order on the PDAF so congressmen could get their remaining allocation this year.
Evardone cited the case of 248,072 “scholars” of at least 73 congressmen, who would supposedly be unable to continue with their studies unless the TRO was lifted.
“On humanitarian consideration, we would like to appeal to the Supreme Court to consider the situation of our constituents who depend on PDAF,” he said at a joint press conference with Umali.
Umali described the PDAF as “the only mechanism of government where each legislative district is assured of P70 million per annum.”
The amount is P210 million for the entire three terms of each House member, he pointed out.
“So to a certain extent, this is even an equalizer,” he said.
The high tribunal issued a TRO pending its ruling on petitions questioning the constitutionality of the PDAF.
The House Committee on Appropriations, of which Evardone is vice chairman, earlier “abolished” P25.2 Billion worth of PDAF in next year’s national budget.
Along with Vice President Jejomar Binay’s own P200-million pork barrel, the PDAF would be distributed among six government agencies. The Department of Public Works and Highways stood to get the lion’s share of 35 percent.
Acknowledging complaints about the alleged misuse of the PDAF, Evardone said the remaining PDAF for 2013 could be limited to scholarships and medical assistance.
“No more NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and all possible leakage,” he said.
Umali added: “What’s bad is PDAF is already condemned as bad pork.”