Will Aquino sign people’s plea vs pork? No way, says Palace
MANILA, Philippines – It is unlikely that President Benigno Aquino III will sign the People’s Initiative against pork barrel, despite prodding from militant lawmakers to do so.
Asked if Malacañang was up to the challenge, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Monday pointed out that Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares and the Aquino administration had different views when it comes to the definition of the pork barrel or discretionary lump sum funds allocated for lawmakers.
“There is a fundamental difference in their definition of pork barrel,” Lacierda said in a text message to INQUIRER.net.
Amid the anti-pork protest at Rizal Park in Manila on Monday, Colmenares challenged the President to sign the People’s Initiative, which shall criminalize the appropriation of discretionary lump sum funds. The Abolish Pork Movement aims to gather six million signatures to have the said proposal approved into law.
“If indeed President Aquino is against the pork barrel then he should sign the people’s initiative and shun all pork from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to PDAF and all its other forms,” the lawmaker said in a statement.
But Lacierda said Colmenares, had already been able to study the proposed 2015 budget and ask Budget Secretary Florencio Abad about it.
“Secretary Abad already categorically answered his queries during the DBCC (Development Budget Coordination Committee) hearings before the House (of Representatives),” Lacierda said.
“The answers were obviously not in agreement with his (Colmenares’) agenda,” he said.
“SC already ruled on it. Do they agree with the definition of the SC re: pork barrel?” Lacierda said.
However, Colmenares and other administration critics insist that the pork barrel system still exists.
“The President and his allies keep saying that there are no more pork barrel funds in the 2015 budget but we know otherwise because there are huge lump sums in the budget that can be nothing else but pork,” the lawmaker said in a statement.
Colmenares added that Aquino has his own pork barrel in the form of the P132-billion Malampaya fund, the President’s Social Fund and the P449 billion Special Purpose Fund.
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