Briones: Audit PDAF beneficiaries

Posted at 02/21/2014 7:49 PM

MANILA -- Former national treasurer and Social Watch Philippines convenor Leonor Briones has called for an audit of the beneficiaries of the lawmakers' former priority development assistance funds (PDAF) which have been absorbed by the executive implementing agencies.

Briones spoke ahead of her group's forum on the 2014 national budget and the proposed 2015 national budget.

Briones reminded the public that the PDAF was merely deleted as an item in the budget but that does not mean pork barrel is already gone since there are still many lump sum appropriations.

She pointed out that of the P2.6 trillion national budget, only P1.4 trillion are new appropriations while about P796 billion are automatic appropriations.

Of the new appropriations, P1.1 trillion are agency budgets while about P282 billion are lump sum special purpose funds.

Among the lump sums are the former PDAF that were realigned.

Of the original P25.4 billion, only infrastructure projects were itemized. The rest were realigned as lump sums to the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Department of Health (DOH).

The former beneficiaries are now supposed to claim their assistance from these agencies instead of the lawmakers.

Briones said the procedure now is "not necessarily airtight."

"Nasa kultura natin iyan, napakalaki ang challenge sa atin, maraming desisyon na nangyayari na labas sa kamera. Hindi natin maexpect na basta ganun na mag-lay off ang legislators sa nakasanayan nila. Tingnan natin sino ang beneficiaries, kung poor ang beneficiaries. Hindi pa talaga tapos ang trabaho," she said.

With regards to the 2015 budget, Briones warned that it may still have a lot of lump sums that should be itemized.