September 13, 2013 · Posted in: General
by Cong B. Corrales
WHILE THE PORK BARREL of legislators appear to have gotten the most flak from the public, it is the President’s own pork barrel that should get more attention – and the axe as well.
This was the message delivered by former National Treasurer and lead convenor of Social Watch Philippines Leonor Briones during Wednesday’s EDSA Tayo anti-pork rally at the EDSA People Power Monument.
Briones said that in comparison to the President’s lump sum funds, the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) otherwise known as the pork barrel are actually small. In fact, Briones said, the PDAF of legislators is just a biik, or piglet, compared to the President’s inahin, or sow.
For example, of the P2.268 trillion budget, Briones said the PDAF of legislators only amount to P 25.2 billion. In comparison, the President’s Special Purpose Fund amounts to P 310 billion
Moreover, Briones said a lot of Presidential pork is not even in the General Appropriations Act; for example, a big portion of the President’s pork comes from revenues from the Philippines Amusements and Gaming Corporation, or PAGCOR.
To be fair, Briones said this system is not exclusive to the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III. The President’s pork has been in place since previous administrations.
“Ang problema ay hindi tayo nakikialam kung saan na ang budget,” Briones said.
Briones said taxpayers should therefore not content themselves with calling for the abolition of the PDAF. Instead, the public should call for the rechanelling of all the President’s lump sum appropriations into line agencies, especially those involved in health and education.
Briones said that in maintaining these lump sums, the President is “insulting” line agencies and local government units who have development plans and itemized budgeting down to the barangay level.
She also pointed out that the President’s lump sum funds are only audited after three years unlike the spending of line agencies which are audited every year. In this case, any abuse by the President on the use of his lump sum funds would be discovered too late by the Commission on Audit, Briones said.
Organizers the EDSA Tayo gathering, led by Junep Ocampo, had asked Briones to deliver a lecture on the pork barrel at the EDSA shrine. The lecture was followed by an open forum where rally participants could ask Briones for more details on the pork barrel.
Ocampo said that even though there were more people who attended than those who came to the Million Person March at the Luneta last August 26, the EDSA Tayo affair was still a success.
“Ang akala nga namin 14 lang kami tapos kasama namin ang aming mga pamilya so 50 at the most. Pero tingnan mo naman ang daming dumalo. Dapat di natin tigilan ang pagkilos hanggang sa tuluyan ng mawala ang korupsyon sa ating bansa,” he said.