By Sammy F. Martin
MANILA, 17July2013 – In light of recent reports regarding the P10-billion pork barrel scam, Anakpawis party list Rep. Fernando Hicap on Tuesday said he strongly supports calls for the total abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of all members of the Lower House and Senate.
He said that every fiscal year, each member of the House of Representatives is entitled to P70 million PDAF while each Senator is entitled to P200 million for soft programs and infrastructure projects.
For 2013, the total amount of PDAF accessible to all lawmakers is P24.790 billion.
“Since time immemorial, the pork barrel has been a source of corruption and a funding mechanism for patronage politics from the national to local level. To give justice to all Filipino taxpayers, the pork servings of all lawmakers must be stopped and the pork barrel fund must be totally abolished,” Hicap told reporters in a press conference.
Instead of allotting billions for the pork barrel of Senators and Congressmen, the neophyte solon said the national government must increase the annual budget for social services including budget for education, mass housing and public health care to give immediate and necessary frontline services and social benefits for the people.
“Transparency will not solve this P10-billion pork barrel ‘scam of the century.’ The pork and its perks must be abolished. All those who masterminded and benefited from this large-scale racketeering must be punished and held accountable for plunder,” the solon stressed.
According to reports, in the past decade, some P10-billion PDAF funds were allegedly squandered to fake NGOs. Some P900 million from the Malampaya fund went to so-called agricultural packages for various farmers’ NGOs which turned out to be dummy organizations created and operated by a trading firm.
“Most of the squandered public funds allegedly went to so-called livelihood projects for farmers and the agriculture sector. We abhor this high-level, syndicated corruption. Poor farmers are in dire need of support services. It is unacceptable that their legitimate demands and interests are being used for corruption,” he explained.
According to Hicap, a full blown investigation on the pork barrel scam must be carried out to scrutinize the extent of misuse of public funds. “All those involved in this multibillion scam must face administrative and criminal sanctions.”
Sen. Franklin Drilon announced on Monday that he will file a bill abolishing PDAF before the 16th Congress opens on July 22. (PNA)