Deleting pork barrel won’t help Senate’s bad image—Santiago
MANILA, Philippines — Even if they come around to removing pork barrel provisions from the 2014 national budget, the image of the Senate is already in tatters and “beyond remedy” because of the pork barrel scandal, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said Tuesday.
Senate President Franklin Drilon claimed that several senators had written him of their desire to have their pork barrel allocations excised from the P2.268-trillion proposed 2014 budget.
But this might not be enough to refurbish the chamber’s soiled image, Santiago said.
“So far, it’s beyond remedy,” Santiago said in a telephone interview. “Every single Filipino wants to spit at a senator, including myself, within spitting distance. Sirang-sira na kami (We’re severely damaged).”
“That’s why I’m not in a particular hurry to go back,” added the senator, who was on official leave due to chronic fatigue syndrome.
The only remedy is for the senators to “voluntarily resign” and give way to young people untainted by corruption, she said.
Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile have been charged with plunder along with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and 34 others over the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Shortly after being charge, Estrada divulged in a privilege speech that senators received P50 million in additional pork barrel after the Senate convicted Chief Justice Renato Corona of dishonesty in the preparation of his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth in May 2012.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said 20 senators received additional pork barrel amounting to P1.107 billion months after Corona’s conviction. He said this was coursed through the Disbursement Acceleration Program introduced in 2011.
Santiago, who voted against conviction along with now retired Senator Joker Arroyo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said the distribution of the additional pork barrel constituted bribery.
Santiago maintained that she was for either instant or gradual abolition of the pork barrel, but she wasn’t among those who had written Drilon that they wanted their PDAF allocations deleted from the 2014 budget.
“Abolition must be universal.… We should make sure that what you renounce will go to the public,” she said.
The House of Representatives approved the budget on second reading last month, realigning Congress’ P25.2-billion pork barrel to the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of Public Works and Highways.
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