House minority: What about the presidential pork?-A A +A
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
WHY is the House majority bloc zeroing in on the "pork" of legislators?
This was the question of the opposition bloc as the Aquino administration allies have supposedly signed a three-paragraph statement seeking to abolish their yearly P70-million priority development assistance funds (PDAF) or "pork barrel."
"Members of the minority have been consistent in saying that we should abolish pork but we have also been careful to say that it should not be just pork of the legislative branch of government. It should encompass all forms of lump-sum budgeting," Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said during the weekly briefing of the minority bloc.
Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon earlier said that Malacanang has over P1 trillion of presidential pork barrel, which includes the calamity fund, contingency fund, pension funds, and fund for debt servicing, among others.
With House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. as the first signatory of the statement, Zamora said that the leadership was in effect saying that the other members of the majority bloc should follow suit.
Zamora said he was unsure whether the statement is authoritative in nature considering that the majority bloc has not asked the House minority for their signatures.
"They should instead call an all-member caucus so we can discuss this out in the open with everybody participating," he said.
ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio called the statement a "ghost resolution."
"Everybody has read about it but nobody has seen it much less signed it," Tinio noted.
Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo, a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and a partymate of Speaker Belmonte, said only leaders of political parties will be asked to sign the statement.
Gabriela party-list Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said the majority-prepared statement is a "diversionary tactic" on the part of the Aquino administration to appease the public following the Million People March in Luneta against the misuse of pork barrel.
The Million People March organized by netizens is to protest the abuse of pork barrel funds as reported by the Commission on Audit (COA). They also sought the prosecution of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the multi-billion pork barrel scam.
1-BAP party-list Representative Silvestre Bello III, a former Justice Secretary, said it's not enough to go after the pork barrel system but also those who "ate the pork."
"(The government should) go after those who clearly violated the laws and you don't need to lawyer and rocket scientists who these individuals are," Zamora added. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)