MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/26 August) – President Aquino has been challenged to show political will by certifying as urgent a bill that seeks the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel system.
In a statement timed with the Million People March at Manila’s Rizal Park, Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said Aquino should make House Bill 1535 filed by partylist representatives under the Makabayan block to abolish the pork barrel urgent.
Ilagan said “all pork funds, lump sum and discretionary funds in the 2014 budget be effectively rechanneled in specific items towards the delivery of basic social services such as healthcare, education and housing.”
“The Million People March will snowball and public outrage will continue. History will judge Aquino and his government harshly on turning his back on his campaign promises against plunder and corruption unless the pork barrel is eliminated,” she warned.
Also in a statement today, the Kagayanon Kontra sa Mga Korap (Cagayanons Against the Corrupt) pushed for the creation of an “independent investigation panel” to ferret out the truth about the PDAF and so-called discretionary funds.
The group said all those involved in the alleged PDAF scam should be held accountable for their acts and prosecuted.
The Balay Mindanaw Group of NGOs meanwhile said “not only a million but millions of Filipinos, not only in Manila but all over the nation and the world, will individually and collectively express our rage against the unimaginable magnitude of corruption that has been institutionalized and perpetuated through the pork barrel system.”
Balay Mindanaw said the “despicable and criminal practice” by “legislators and their co-conspirators in the executive department, and pseudo-NGOs,” referring to the alleged PDAF scam, has undermined democracy and made the lives of poor people in Mindanao more miserable.
It added government should ensure accountability and transparency especially the right of the people to freely access information.
Meanwhile, in a press conference today in Malacanang, presidential spokesperson Secretary Edwin Lacierda dismissed calls for the President to also do away with his own discretionary funds.
Lacierda said abolishing the President’s social fund, for example, is unrealistic given the frequency of calamities in the country.
“If we can abolish calamities, then maybe we can abolish the fund,” he said in Tagalog.
He added the social fund is where the President gets money for assistance to the victims of calamities and to the families of soldiers who are killed or wounded in action.
He explained these are among the “uncertainties” that the social fund is intended for. (MindaNews)