New pork barrel system for infrastructure projects in the works
MANILA, Philippines — Minority congressmen appear to be in the dark over the new pork barrel scheme prepared by the majority in place of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
“I haven’t seen the outline of that proposal,” Minority Leader Representative Ronaldo Zamora told reporters on Wednesday.
“I’m not sure whether we are deleting pork…if it’s abolition, then tell us. If not, then show us the alternative.”
The House committee on appropriations earlier announced the “abolition” of the P25.2-billion PDAF item in next year’s national budget. The proposal was to distribute the amount — along with Vice President Jejomar Binay’s own pork barrel worth P200 million — to six government agencies.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was expected to get the biggest share of 35 percent from the total amount, which would exclude the P4.8-billion PDAF of 24 senators.
Representative Ben Evardone, vice chairman of the appropriations committee, said one proposal was for each of the 292 House members to get P24.6 million in “hard projects,” meaning those to be implemented by the DPWH.
He said that in that scheme, congressmen would need to submit up to five specific proposals, which would be presented during plenary budget deliberations as part of committee amendments. He said the DPWH would eventually decide which project would be implemented using the realigned pork barrel.
“Is it much better now that we centralize this particular function in a national government agency? I would like to see the answer to that,” Zamora said.
“What I just really want is for congressmen not to lose their voice on those projects…in their own districts.”
If asked, Zamora said he would submit proposals for his district under the new pork barrel scheme.
“Why wouldn’t I?” he asked. “Whatever the number (of allowable proposals) is, I don’t care. I’m not even sure they will allow us to submit proposals.”