Trillanes slams Estrada for pork allotment to Manila
MANILA, Philippines — “Pakapalan na lang ito (This is shameless)” was how Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV reacted on Thursday to the reported P100-million budget that Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada allotted to the City of Manila.
Estrada’s father, former President Joseph Estrada, is the incumbent mayor of Manila.
Trillanes said Senator Estrada should have been more “circumspect” considering that he was “under fire” for alleged anomalous disbursement of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also known as “pork barrel” funds.
“Alam na nga nyang under fire sya, ganun pa pagka-allocate nya. Pakapalan na lang ito,” Trillanes said of Senator Estrada in a chance interview in Quezon City on Thursday.
Trillanes was among the nine senators who realigned their PDAF this year for either calamity fund or various projects.
He anticipated that questions will be raised at Senator Estrada’s decision to distribute his P200 million PDAF to only three local government units (LGUs), including the P100 million to the city headed by his father.
But in a phone-patch interview with Senate reporters, Estrada maintained his decision to allocate P100 million to the City of Manila, saying he gave it to the people of Manila and not to his father.
“That was my own initiative. Hindi nga alam ng tatay ko yan e (My father didn’t even know about it),” he said.
There was also nothing wrong, he said, if he was the only senator who allotted his PDAF for LGUs.
Other senators used their PDAF for calamity fund, and hospitals, among others.
“So? So what? Is there anything wrong?” Senator Estrada said.
“Sabi ko sa’yo (I told you), our duty, our power is to review and recommend and to realign the budget because the power of the purse belongs to Congress. At inaprubahan na ito, it went through the legislative process. Walang in-insert dito,” he said.
Senator Estrada then appealed to the executive not to impound the said item in the budget, citing the financial woes of the City of Manila.
“They are the ones in power, I cannot do anything about it. Basta I’m appealing to them not to impound it dahil kung alam lang nila yung financial status ng local government ng Manila, e talagang baon na baon sa utang,” he said.
Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also defended his decision to realign his P200 million PDAF this year to calamity fund.
“It is of public record that I requested that the P200 million in PDAF earmarked for my office be realigned to the Calamity Fund so it can be used to help Yolanda victims,” Recto said in a statement.
“When faced with the choice of deducting the amount from the budget or giving it to victims of the most powerful storm in history, I had no qualms in choosing the homeless victims of that calamity,” he said.
When also faced with a series of calamities, Recto said the “better choice was to re-channel the scrapped PDAF to relief than , say, park it in the Treasury where it might tempt our financial managers to use it to retire part of our country’s foreign debt.”
“When we cut the amount of PDAF from the budget, we in effect reduced the aid that could have been given to calamity victims,” he said.
In fact, he said, he was proposing that the entire P2.4 billion PDAF be allotted for calamity fund to help the victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” strong quake in Bohol and the failed siege of Zamboanga City last year.
“What I proposed was that the pork barrel be pounded into school roofing or steel rods for roads and hospital buildings,” Recto said.
“It is up to the President and his men to decide on where , how and when to use the Calamity Fund, including the amount I augmented. I will absolutely have no say on how it will be utilized,” he added.
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