‘Who’s holding up pork barrel?’
A lawmaker wants to know who is holding back the release of their pork barrel —President Aquino or Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr.?
Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said in a statement he was not convinced that Mr. Aquino would order a freeze on the pork barrel of lawmakers who did not vote for Malacañang-backed actions in the House of Representatives—the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and the suspension of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao elections—since he promised to give all that was due to the congressmen, whether friend or foe of the administration.
Tiangco said that Abad, a top official of the President’s Liberal Party, should come clean on who ordered the non-release of the first half of the lawmakers’ annual P70 million priority development assistance fund (PDAF).
“That P-Noy would withhold these funds from us just sounds ridiculous, and Secretary Abad should not be allowed to claim thus if it is untrue. Some sort of reprimand should be in order because his actions and statements are putting the President in a bad light,” said Tiangco. “If any member of the President’s cabinet is unofficially using his name to justify this issue, then they should be reprimanded at the very least.”
Tiangco received a text from Abad shortly after the lawmaker criticized the delay in the release of the pork barrel which should have been given as early as March this year.
The text message read: “Cong. Tiangco, I read your PR (press release) today (July 22) re your PDAF. On my own, I cannot withhold any legislator’s PDAF. I suggest you find a way to talk to P-Noy. The Speaker can help you along the line.”
But in a text message, Abad denied that the text had come from him. “No way can anybody blame P-Noy. He should instead speak to the Speaker. The allocation will get to their district for sure,” said Abad.
“To date, the DBM secretary has yet to comment on or deny the issue surrounding his text message. To end these speculations and all the finger-pointing, I dare Secretary Abad to deny that he sent me that text message. If he doesn’t then it just proves that it is true,” said Tiangco.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and not the President decided to delay the pork barrel releases.
Tiangco, an ally of Belmonte, disputed Lacierda’s claim, noting that the spokesperson should have found out first if Abad had anything to do with the pork barrel delays.
Belmonte said he himself had not received his pork barrel but he assured his colleagues that he was working with the DBM for the release of the PDAF to all members, including the minority Bloc led by Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
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