Congress told to explain legality of pork barrel system-A A +A
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
(UPDATED) The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Senate and House of Representatives to justify the existence of the corruption-tainted priority development assistance fund (PDAF).
Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte have 10 days to respond to the petition filed last week by lawyer Samson Alcantara, a loser in the May senatorial polls and president of non-government group Social Justice Society.
The petition will also be raffled off to another magistrate after Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco inhibited from writing the court's decision on the case, said SC spokesperson Theodore Te.
Velasco's wife, Lorna, is a lawmaker representing Ang Mata'y Alagaan party list.
In his petition, Alcantara said Congress must be stopped from enacting legislation allotting funds for PDAF to ensure its abolition.
"Through the power of appropriation, members of Congress have under the pork barrel system been able to misappropriate funds collected pursuant to tax laws that they themselves have enacted. This is a brazen betrayal of public trust. The Filipino taxpayer is being fried in his own lard," the petition read, which was filed amid the public disgust over reports that billions in pesos in pork barrel funds were embezzled by lawmakers through fake non-government organizations (NGOs).
Alcantara said the PDAF has been used by the President to control Congress especially in pushing for pet bills, undermining the separation of powers under the Constitution.
He also scored the system, which provides P70 million for every congressman and P200 million for senators yearly, for helping political dynasties.
Malacañang had already denied a reincarnation of the pork barrel system as projects asked by senators and congressmen will undergo review by agencies expected to implement them. The projects will be itemized in the national budget.
The SC upheld the constitutionality of the pork barrel system thrice. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)