'Pork' abolished; officials divided-A A +A
Saturday, August 24, 2013
NEGROS Occidental congressmen and other local officials expressed varied reactions on Friday following President Benigno Aquino III’s announcement regarding the abolition of the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or also known as “pork barrel.”
Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said he is not in favor of the total abolition of the PDAF, citing its importance to the rural areas, especially the depressed communities.
In progressive areas having huge income, the pork barrel for their congressmen could be abolished. In rural, especially depressed areas, would be affected so much if the pork barrel of their congressmen would be abolished, the governor said, adding that the pork barrel of their congressmen who use the funds in actual projects is a big help to their constituents.
Marañon also proposes for transparent and stricter guidelines for the pork barrel funds.
Representative Alfredo Benitez (3rd District), on the other hand, said he supports the decision of the President for the abolition of the pork barrel.
For Representative Jeffrey Ferrer (4th District), “the President is knowledgeable of his decision for the abolition of the pork barrel.” However, the congressman said, unlike in the previous administration where pork barrel funds are released in lump sum, strict guidelines for the use of PDAF under the Aquino administration has been observed.
Ferrer said he has been observing line budgeting based of the guidelines set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The total pork barrel abolition, he pointed out, would greatly affect their constituents like the 600 scholars in his district; beneficiaries and patients who need to be brought to the Heart Center and Kidney Center in Manila; the covered courts of the schools and barangays; hospitalization for indigents; and several other projects.
Rep. Alejandro Mirasol (5th District), on the other hand, said his projects using the PDAF have been very transparent since he assumed office.
All the projects, he said, are specified as to how much budget was spent. He has been strictly complying with the guidelines set by the DBM for PDAF, Mirasol stressed, “except for hospital assistance.” He said he covers almost all the district hospitals and provincial hospital under the Fifth District, including the Binalbagan Infirmary.
He has been used to strict guidelines and he sees no problem for a stricter one, Vice Gov. Eugenio Lacson said he is supportive of the pork barrel abolition and for the funds inclusion in the Internal Revenue Allotment of the Local Government Units.
Meanwhile, Diego Malacad, secretary-general of UNDOC said, their protest against pork barrel set on Monday will push through.
He said that Tipon-Tipon sa Lagoon Kontra Korupsyon will push through at the Capitol Lagoon from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, despite the President's announcement on pork abolition.
Negrosanon Kontra Korupsyon which is composed of multi-sectoral groups in the province will join the Luneta March for its call for total pork barrel abolition.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 24, 2013.