By Sammy F. Martin
MANILA, 15July2013 – The members of the House of Representatives are divided on the issue whether they will give up or not their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) commonly known as pork barrel and just concentrate on legislative work.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., said that they cannot just give up their PDAF because they have specific constituents who need their help in health, basic services and social justice.
“I am against abolition of PDAF. We have our own constituents unlike senators whose constituent is the whole nation,” Belmonte said in a press conference.
He said that he had told his colleagues to create their own website that their constituents can monitor how and how much had been spent to a particular project to make it transparent.
“I am 100 percent for the scrutiny of concern government agency and our constituents. Making data always available will erase doubts that there are magic in it,” Belmonte pointed out.
Senator Franklin Drilon announced that he will file a bill that will totally abolish PDAF to minimize corruption.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez and former TV reporter now Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones echoed Belmonte’s position.
The solons claimed that they cannot speed up the delivery of basic services in their districts if they will only resort to the income of their localities.
Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento said to avoid repetition of the alleged misuse of PDAF is to tighten the release of funds. The solon claimed that directing his funds to the concern agencies will avoid being tricked by bogus NGOs and foundations.
Senators are receiving P200 million PDAF while each congressman is entitled to P70 million PDAF every year.
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said he will file the counterpart measure of Drilon anytime this month to finally put to rest the controversial PDAF.
Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo and Quezon City Rep. Bolet Banal support Drilon’s view on PDAF.
For his part, Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said the issue of P10 billion pork barrel scam cannot be disregarded because the public is closely monitoring where their taxes are being spent. (PNA)