Begtang: ‘We need pork’-A A +A
Friday, October 11, 2013
LUNA, APAYAO -- For a third class province like Apayao, development assistance funds are a welcome respite for the fledgling province.
While moves are being pushed for the scrapping of the priority development assistance fund in the Congress, Apayao Representative Leah Bulut-Begtang said she is against the proposal saying it will hamper their development.
"The sentiments of anti PDAF groups may be true pero paano naman kami na inaasahan ang PDAF to bring in development dito sa aming probinsya," said Bulut-Begtang.
The second termer representative described the PDAF as an equalizer in the unequal distribution of government funds, which are essential to the provinces with limited budget.
Bulut-Begtang said bulk of her PDAF during his first term went to social services while a minimal portion was allocated for infrastructure projects.
“During my first term, we have agreed with the governor my PDAF will cover social services kasi kung sa infrastructure mo siya dadalhin halos kulang na,” she said.
Various groups, including party-list members of the militant bloc, Makabayan Coalition and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), have called for the suspension or scrapping of the pork barrel. In the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget next year, P27 billion was earmarked for the pork barrel.
"I hope PDAF stays because it is a huge help to the needy. It pays for scholarships of poor students, hospital bills of indigent patients, burial expenses and the remedy of not abusing is not to eliminate the fund but to tighten the audit of disbursement," the lawmaker added.
Bulut-Begtang, meanwhile, belied anti-pork barrel sentiments, saying it only presents one side of the story and does not represent the whole sentiment of those in the countryside.
"Kung makita mo sa media sa Manila halos araw-araw yang ang balita, pero hindi ba nila naisip na marami ding naghihirap in the countryside na mas kelangan ng pork," added Bulut-Begtang.
Earlier, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte stood firm for the retention of pork barrel, saying those who are not in favor of the fund distribution should simply give it up.
Belmonte said lawmakers seeking for the scrapping of PDAF must follow the practice of former senators Joker Arroyo and Panfilo Lacson who declined their annual PDAF allocation of P200 million.
Since the pork barrel scam issue broke out early this year, lawmakers have been discussing how to improve the system used to divide the national wealth ensuring no region or province would be placed at a disadvantage after the abolition of the pork barrel.
The country's annual income generated from investments, taxes and fees are divided among 17 regions, 80 provinces, 138 cities, 1,496 towns and 42,025 villages.
The region will receive the smallest budgetary slice next year because of its small population and its poor growth performance, according to the Department of Budget and Management.
Cordillera Administrative Region was allocated P31.7 billion in the draft budget.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 12, 2013.