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Lawmaker hits DBM chief over silence on pork barrel

/ 01:58 PM August 07, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — A member of the minority bloc scoffed at Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad’s “refusal” to answer whether lawmakers’ pork barrel should be retained before the House committee on appropriations on Tuesday.

Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio said he was “appalled and dismayed” that Abad turned down his request for an explanation during the first day of the deliberations on the P2.268 trillion proposed national budget for 2014.

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“Given the massive corruption scandal, the question on whether it should be retained is something they have to answer,” he told reporters in a media forum.

He was referring to the Budget official’s retort that it was “ultimately up to the House of Representatives whether or not you want to continue with the PDAF (priority development assistance fund).”

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When Tinio asked Abad to explain the stand of Malacañang on the calls for the abolition of the PDAF, the Budget chief said that they “respect the wisdom and judgment of a coequal branch of government. Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to abolish it rests with you, the House of Representatives.”

The proposed national budget for 2014 still had the PDAF in it, Tinio said.

“Even if safeguards were in place, these did not prevent abuses to the PDAF,” he said.

But Abad said that the President felt that lawmakers who used their pork barrel “prudently and well should not be punished for possible infractions committed by some.”

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has already begun looking into the present PDAF system, said Abad.

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