PDAF abolition not easy after all, Drilon finds out
MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Friday he has yet to muster a consensus in the Senate on the deletion of their pork barrel funds from the 2014 budget.
Drilon said on Friday he might have to talk with each senator to persuade them to delete or “waive” their P200-million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from the proposed P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget.
Stung by allegations of a P10-billion pork barrel scam, President Benigno Aquino III earlier instructed his allies in Congress to delete the PDAF or pork barrel.
But while newspaper reports have put the number of proabolition senators at 17, Drilon admitted only three so far have written him of their desire to waive their PDAF. He did not name them.
“In effect, we have to do that when the budget comes to us, and we have to decide at that point,” he said when asked in a phone interview if he would have to sit down with the senators to muster a consensus.
The matter wasn’t taken up in last Wednesday’s tense caucus on the Senate blue ribbon committee’s inquiry into the pork barrel scam. Some senators had been implicated by whistle-blowers as having diverted their pork barrel allocations to fake nongovernment organizations run by suspected scam mastermind Janel Lim-Napoles.
Drilon, who was elected Senate President by 17 out of 24 senators at the start of the 16th Congress in July, expressed confidence that the majority would back the deletion of the PDAF item in the 2014 budget.
Sen. Vicente Sotto III, now a member of the minority, also agreed that the majority of the senators would back the abolition, including members of the minority bloc.
“Whether they abolish it or not, I will definitely remove my allocation,” Sotto added by phone. He said that his colleagues, Gregorio Honasan III and Juan Ponce Enrile, have indicated they would follow his lead.
Sotto said he was not aware of the options of Senators Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada.
There are two options for the Senate to delete PDAF from the 2014 budget: In case of a consensus, the Senate could adopt a resolution excising the entire PDAF item; or, if there is no consensus, each senator could introduce an individual amendment waiving his or her allocation.
Realigning the P25-billion total PDAF for all senators and representatives to six departments, as approved by the House of Representatives, was another matter altogether, Drilon admitted, adding that this had yet to be discussed.
“I can’t say that for everyone,” he said by phone from South Korea, where he joined President Aquino in the latter’s state visit, when asked if the senators were agreeable to the House’s realignment of the PDAF to six agencies.
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