Baguio lawmaker says no to ‘pork chop’-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Sunday, August 25, 2013
BAGUIO Representative Nicasio Aliping said he is not in favor of scrapping the ‘pork barrel’ or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Aliping said scrapping of the PDAF is like removing legislators in the House of Representatives as well as ending the delivery of basic services to people in need in their respective districts, which is the primary aim of the fund.
The representative said lawmakers, under the leadership of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, agreed to push through with the pork barrel but with stricter guidelines.
These guidelines include disallowing a non-government organization, most especially fake NGOs, to become PDAF beneficiaries.
“Beneficiaries may be a government hospital, a public school or college and a government office so that we will avoid rechanneling of funds for other purposes like those impostor NGOs,” the first-term representative said.
He said even his colleagues in the House of Representatives are not in favor of scrapping the fund, explaining it will compromise projects intended for their constituents.
The neophyte lawmaker was also backed by a recent statement of Mayor Mauricio Domogan, previously Baguio’s three-term congressman who denied having any links to Janet Lim Napoles, the businesswoman linked to bogus NGOs and the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Domogan said the PDAF has been cast in a negative light due to irregularities of several lawmakers and stressed the pork barrel is backed by a Supreme Court decision saying the best way to ensure shares of all congressional districts is through the fund.
The mayor suggested placing safeguards to ensure the fund benefits the priority needs of the district.
As a three-term legislator, he recalled they were given PDAF in lump sums while their role as congressmen is only to list immediate projects needed in their districts. He stressed it is in the implementing national line agency that the bidding and documentary requirements are processed and released.
He added that PDAF is often used on priority projects identified by the City Development Council unsupported by the city budget. He said aside from infrastructure projects funded by PDAF, the fund is also spent on purchase of hospital equipment, scholarships and the provision of livelihood.
He said listing of priority projects can already be included in the deliberations of the national budget or the General Appropriations Act which has also been suggested by President Benigno Aquino III in his pronouncement Friday to abolish pork and come up with new mechanisms to safeguard the fund of various districts.
Meanwhile, militant groups and concerned residents in the city over Social Networking Sites Facebook and Twitter will do a Baguio-leg of the nationwide protest against the PDAF on Monday, National Heroes’ Day.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 26, 2013.