By TYRONE A. VELEZ
Davao City– A partylist representative slammed a scheme by leaders of the House of Representatives that will allow lawmakers to dip into the national budget for infrastructure projects.
House leaders announced it is scrapping the Priority Development Allocation Fund (PDAF) popularly known as pork and is giving it back to the national budget.
But Gabriela representative Luzviminda Ilagan said the same leaders are introducing a scheme that allows congressmen to determine “hard” projects like roads for their districts.
“Sasabihin nila wala nang pork at wala nang PDAF pero ang bawat kongresista at senador pwedeng magtakda ng mga proyektong aabot sa halagang P24 milyon? (They say there is no more pork or PDAF but why are congressmen and senators allowed to determine projects worth P 24 million?) The mere fact that legislators each have P24M of hard projects practically at their disposal and there is no semblance of realignment on the president’s allocation, so far, is proof that the pork barrel still exists,” said Ilagan.
The P24M cap per legislator was arrived at after P9.6B of the P25B PDAF for lawmakers was realigned to DPWH to be equally divided among 24 senators and 292 representatives.
“The pork barrel by any other name or form is still pork. Aquino’s Congress should stop pretending that it has abolished the pork barrel. This proposed equal division of loot and largess is evident in the guidelines for the allocation and implementation of projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways. The parade of lies and disguises is infuriating and outright insulting,” the militant women’s partylist representative said.
Ilagan said if this scheme is pushed through, Congress could also apply this division of the budget to education and health.
“It is not far-fetched that the same scheme of equal division will also be followed when it comes to allocating funds for hospitals with the allocation of P3.69B to the Department of Health and the nomination of scholars with P2.66B and P3.69B realigned to the Commission on Higher Education and to TESDA respectively,” said Ilagan.
Ilagan’s partylist, Gabriela, is part of the Makabayan bloc, a group of partylist representatives who filed a bill for the removal of the PDAF from the national budget and its re-alignment to social services such as health and education.
The other members of the Makabayan are Bayan Muna, AnakPawis, Kabataan and ACT Teachers Partylist.
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, in a forum in Davao last week, said they would prioritize the increase in budget for education and health departments, noting the poor state of public hospitals and public schools.
Ilagan added that they are also pushing for the scrapping of lump sum and discretionary funds of the President as this is also a scheme similar to pork.
The presidential “pork” worth P 1.3 trillion includes the Malampaya fund, social fund sourced through PAGCOR among others.
Zarate said the presidential special funds such as education fund could be used to favor areas to win support for the President or his ruling-Liberal Party.
“Protests should not and will not stop until those who have stolen kickbacks from the nation’s coffers have been made accountable and until such time that the pork barrel system which breeds this systemic corruption is abolished in all its forms,” Ilagan said.
Ilagan joined today’s protest action led by BABALA (BABAe LAban sa Katiwalian) along Taft Avenue in Manila.
A noise barrage is set Friday in Manila and other key cities led by students, while a nationwide protest march is set on Saturday, September 21, the anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. (davaotoday.com)abolish pork, abolish pork barrel, Gabriela Partylist, Gabriela Women Partylist, pdaf