Aquino veto sought on Enrile ‘pork’
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday urged the Department of Budget and Management to recommend a presidential veto on Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile’s alleged P800 million “pork” in the proposed 2014 national budget.
In her letter to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Santiago described the proposed P890,886,000 budget of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) next year as “illegal” and immoral.
Santiago noted that CEZA was created by a law authored by Enrile when he was still congressman.
“This is to respectfully call your attention to the 2014 budget, which contains an appropriation of over P800 million for the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority. The exact appropriation is P890,000,886. The budget lays down the mandate “to develop CEZA into a self-sustaining center.” Hence, I humbly believe that this appropriation is both illegal and immoral,” she said in the letter.
Santiago said the appropriation was illegal, citing the recent Supreme Court decision declaring the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also known as pork barrel funds “unconstitutional.”
It was also “immoral,” she said, given the “hellish apocalypse” that recently hit the country.
She said giving P800 million to CEZA was “dystopic” when the government has to beg or borrow funds for post-disaster relief from the ravages of Supertyphoon “Yolanda”.
“In the midst of this hellish apocalypse, Enrile insisted that the budget should give over P800 million to his home province of Cagayan, to construct what he insists will be a so-called deeper navigation channel for Port Irene? His tunnel vision of the national landscape defies all legality and all morality,” Santiago said.
The senator also described the CEZA budget as “extravagant” compared to other economic zones, which only received some P300 to P350 million.
From 2008 to 2013, Santiago said, CEZA has received a total appropriation of P5.1 billion “without any significant contribution to the economy or the national treasury.”
“What has CEZA done with theP5.1 billion that it received from 2008 to 2013? What has been the CEZA output? What has CEZA contributed to the economy? What has it contributed to the national coffers?” she asked in a separate statement.
Santiago then asked Abad to recommend to President Benigno Aquino III to veto what she described as “anomalous” in the 2014 budget.
“Hence, if all fails, I humbly but strongly recommend that it would be appropriate for DBM to recommend that President Aquino should veto this anomalous item in the 2014 budget,” she further said in her letter to Abad.
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