Lani Mercado: I can't help scholars sans pork barrel
MANILA - Actress and politician Lani Mercado-Revilla fears that lawmakers being stripped of their pork barrel funds might mean she can no longer give money to scholars and other people who approach her for help.
Mercado-Revilla, who represents the 2nd District of Cavite in the lower House, replied to people in a series of tweets that senators and congressmen use their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for social assistance.
"I have to tell 7,000 scholars that without PDAF, I can't help them," she said.
"Nasa menu po ng senador at congressman ang educational assistance, medical assistance, at hospital assistance," she added.
"We give out scholarships to empower people. It is in our menu. Our constituents ask us for medical and burial assistance," she said.
The congresswoman, who is married to Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., however said that her statement given to entertainment news site PEP was taken out of context.
She was earlier quoted as saying that "Sige, basta wag lang manghihingi ang mga tao sa amin."
"(Statement) taken at the wrong context," she said on Twitter. "Sorry you are taking me at the wrong context. Alam niyo na kung paano kami tumulong, PDAF or without PDAF."
Mercado-Revilla said details on her PDAF-funded projects are posted online in her Facebook account.
She also asked people to visit her district "to take a feel of what happens in the ground."
According to a Commission on Audit special report, her husband was among top 5 senators who used their pork barrel funds from 2007 to 2009.
Under Annex A of the COA report, Revilla requested use of his pork barrel eight times, with a total of P503.85 million.
Amid public outrage over the alleged misuse of billions of pesos of public funds, President Benigno Aquino has called for the abolition of the PDAF.
Aquino is instead proposing a system where lawmakers can still propose certain projects for their constituents but this time with several restrictions.
There will be a menu that proposed projects should conform with and allocation for the approved projects will now appear in the national budget or the General Appropriations Act as line item, starting in 2014.
Health services, scholarships, and livelihood projects are among projects that may still be allowed.