PDAF abolition claims first casualty, solon reports

Posted at 09/02/2013 9:54 PM

Congressmen half-hearted on PDAF abolition

MANILA - The abolition of lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has claimed its first casualty as lawmakers show some half-heartedness on the abolition.

Laguna First District Rep. Dan Fernandez said a recipient of medical assistance from his PDAF allocation died within the last 2 weeks after he could no longer fund the beneficiary's dialysis at the National Kidney Institute from his PDAF.

Fernandez said, while he supports the President's stand on the abolition of PDAF, he also stressed the PDAF has both a good and a bad side.

Fernandez said, fortunately, he has been able to deliver assistance to most of his beneficiaries. However, the abolition of the PDAF means he can no longer fund future or continuing programs.

Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing said he will soon touch base with his constituents to brief them on the PDAF abolition.

Bagatsing said there is concern and worry among his constituents on the fate of the benefits they get from his PDAF.

Bagatsing said they must now work on making sure the appropriate executive agency is able to handle the requests for assistance that will now be directed at them.

Liberal Party (LP) secretary-general, Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento said there is concern and worry among congressmen of the administration party regarding the benefits of their constituents from the PDAF.

However, he stressed they all stand by the President's pronouncement.

Earlier, members of the administration party voiced their demoralization and confusion how the abolition of the lump sum PDAF in the national budget will affect their constituents.

Liberal Party members held a caucus at the Balay Headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City on Monday morning.

A source at the meeting said they expressed their sentiments over how they will deal with constituents who are beneficiaries of medical, funeral and educational assistance from the PDAF.

The source said, while the body expressed support for President Aquino's pronouncement, they do have unanswered questions on the impact on the beneficiaries.

Aside from the PDAF, the LP also welcomed new members.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone identified the new LP members as representatives Gina de Venecia, Yeng Guiao, Aileen Radaza and Nicasio Aliping.

Evardone added that while the LP congressmen backed the president's call, they also raised questions as to what will happen to the beneficiaries of the scholarships and funeral assistance programs of lawmakers.

Evardone said no answer was provided to them.

House Speaker Sonny Belmonte confirmed that the LP had a caucus earlier Monday.

This included the oath taking of new members of the Liberal Party.

"PDAF was discussed and the body expressed full support for PNoy's stand," he said.

Asked if this was a loyalty check on members amid scuttlebutt that party members are jittery over the investigation of the PDAF scandal, the House leader said, "I did not notice anybody jittery. Hindi naman loyalty check."

Belmonte is supposed to meet with other coalition partners in the coming days.

The LP has about 120 congressmen in the 16th Congress, easily the biggest party and the leader of the majority coalition which also includes the Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People's Coalition, the National Unity Party, a breakaway group of the Lakas CMD, and the United Nationalist Alliance.