Abad, family blamed for pork barrel crisis
MANILA, Philippines—Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and members of his family should take most of the blame for dragging the executive and legislative branches of government into the pork barrel controversy.
“The power to disburse government funds is suspiciously concentrated in one family under this administration. I will not be surprised if the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) was cooked up at the dinner table of the Abads,” Atienza said in a phone interview.
Atienza, a key ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, pointed out that aside from Abad’s control of the DBM, his wife, Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad, was an ex-officio member of the House appropriation committee which served as the clearing house of all pork barrel deployment of representatives; his daughter, Julia Andrea Abad, was chief of the Presidential Management Staff, which handles the President’s multibillion-peso “pork,” or the presidential social fund; and his son, Luis Abad, was the chief of staff of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.
“Secretary Abad had a clear vision when he and his family agreed to take key positions in setting and spending the budget. Now, the President and Congress are left to clean up all this mess,” said Atienza.
Atienza gave a privilege speech in which he claimed that the “special family connection” in the budget system of the executive and legislative branches facilitated the release of P800 million in pork barrel funds to the Abad’s home province, Batanes.
“By the magic wand of Secretary Abad, Batanes got no less than P800 million as part of the pork barrel of that very small district. I am not belittling Batanes but we have more barangays (villages) in Manila that have a much bigger population than the population of Batanes. Why aren’t they given that kind of money?” asked Atienza.
Atienza also lambasted the DAP concocted by Abad, which he noted was patently illegal as it could not be found in the Constitution nor the General Appropriations Act of 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Atienza noted that the President and Abad used the DAP like a “magic wand” “to change our minds and to destroy the very foundations of Congress and the Senate” by bending the will of Congress to kick out former Chief Justice Renato Corona and approve the Reproductive Health bill.
“I believe that no Filipino in his right mind would wish the President to make a very grievous error or judgment. If the aim of the DAP was to stimulate the economy, I don’t think it is proper to give the money to senators and representatives to spend,” said Atienza.
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