Some solons think PDAF is their money: Abad
MANILA - Budget Secretary Butch Abad admitted Friday that President Aquino is seriously considering proposals to abolish the pork barrel especially since some lawmakers are using the funds like it's their own money.
Speaking to ABS-CBN News, Abad said President Aquino is in discussions with Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte about the clamor to abolish the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) after the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
The budget chief said there are qualities about the current pork barrel system that make it prone to corruption.
"Itong nabanggit na panukala ni Sen. Alan ay yan ay isa sa mga pinatutunguhan o pinag-iisipan din ng ating Pangulo. Ang mahalaga dito - meron kasing mga katangian ang PDAF ngayon na nagdudulot nitong ganitong kalaking problema," he told ABS-CBN Umagang Kay Ganda.
"Unang-una yung kawalan ng transparency. Pangalawa ay yung arbitrariness. Yung parang ang turing sa PDAF ng ilan - hindi ko naman linalahat - ay para nilang sariling pera e pera naman (yan) ng taumbayan," he added.
Members of the Senate get P200 million each in yearly pork barrel funds while congressmen get P70 million each in pork barrel.
Outrage over pork barrel misuse has reached fever pitch recently following reports that P10 billion in pork barrel funds were funneled to fake non-government organizations over a 10-year period.
Last week, the Commission on Audit revealed that 10 NGOs linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles received P2.157 billion in pork barrel between 2007 and 2009. Napoles is the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam.
Several senators are now calling for the abolition of the pork barrel. The Senate will begin investigating the alleged misuse of the PDAF next week.
In the interview, Abad said one way to curb the abuses is to limit lawmakers from giving funds to NGOs to implement their projects.
He also said many lawmakers use the PDAF to give financial assistance to their constituents. He noted that many Filipinos line up for help at the offices and houses of senators, congressmen and even local officials.
For his part, Sen. Cayetano said he will continue to push for the appointment of former senator Panfilo Lacson to head an independent investigation on the pork barrel scam since the Senate will be investigating their own.
In the COA report, 5 senators - Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Gregorio Honasan and Edgardo Angara - were revealed to be among the list of legislators who transferred their PDAF to 82 questionable NGOs from 2007-2009.
Of the total P6.15 billion PDAF transferred to the 82 NGOs, COA found that top agencies that released the pork barrel funds were Nabcor which released P1.2 billion, Znac Rubber Estate Corp. with PP282 million; Department of Agriculture RFUs with P31 million; DSWD with P748 million, TRC with P2.4 billion; NLDC with P1.295billion, and the Quezon City government with P177 million.
The COA report criticized these agencies for transferring funds and letting the NGOs implement the projects requested by the legislators.
“The IAs (implementing agencies) to where the funds were released by the DBM should have implemented the project themselves as they are the IAs defined in the GAA (General Appropriations Act),” COA said.
Among the NGOs linked to Napoles that were tapped by the senators for their pork barrel fund were Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (AEPFFI), Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation (APMFI), Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development (CARED) Foundation, Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc (MAMFI), People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation (POPDFI), Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) and Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc. (PSDFI).