Belmonte sees opposition from House on pork abolition
MANILA (UPDATED) - The leaders of Congress may have stood behind President Aquino as he issued his call to abolish the existing pork barrel system but House Speaker Sonny Belmonte expects opposition from some members of the House of Representatives.
Belmonte said he plans to speak to leaders of the House to explain the new mechanism that would be put in place.
“Syempre may mga magagalit. Dahil sa nabago, something that they have been used to, babaguhin. But I am very confident… Kauna-unahan kong kakausapin ‘yung mga leaders ng aking coalition, as well as the opposition. I will explain to them kung ano ito. And I’m very hopeful that I’ll be able to explain,” Belmonte told reporters at the Palace.
Belmonte is calling on lawmakers to come up with a list of projects that they want to be funded under the 2014 budget, following the restrictions and criteria set forth by the President.
“Nananawagan ako doon sa mga congressman, ngayon pa lang ilista na n’yo, manghingi na kayo ng mga suggestions from your barangay captains, mga mayors… Gumawa na kayo ng listahan ng mga projects na gusto n’yo gawin. At ‘pag kita natin uli, naka-ready na ‘yung mga projects ninyo within the menu na binanggit ni Presidente—for education, for health purposes, and so forth. Kalimutan na natin ang mga NGO. There are going to be no more NGOs… Kamukha ng aking minumungkahi noong araw, ang mga project natin kailangan para lang sa mga distrito natin,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte finds Aquino’s call reasonable, optimistic that Congress “can live with it.”
“I think that’s very possible. Hindi naman unreasonable ‘yung isipin mo na in advance kung ano ‘yung gusto mong gawin doon sa pera mo at ipasok na natin sa budget. That’s not really very unreasonable kaya lang it needs a little discipline and a little system, paano ka nagkokonsulta sa iyong mga constituents. Pero outside of that, I believe that we can live with it,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte described the COA report detailing the misuse of the pork barrel funds as an “eye opener,” albeit pointing out that there were inaccuracies like in the case of Rep. Manuel 'Way Kurat' Zamora.
“To tell you frankly, from the very beginning, he was concerned about it. And so were we,” Belmonte said of the President’s reaction to allegation about misuse of the pork.
The House leader said the President has been discussing the issue with him for some time before he finally issued the call to abolish the pork.
“As early as a week ago, pinag-usapan na namin ‘to. One week ago, or even more than a week ago, nag-usap-usap kami nina Presidente and he wanted to get our views on everything and then eventually nag-meeting uli kami naman among ourselves, siguro mga three or four days ago, and again yesterday. And naging resulta itong statement,” he said.