House bill limits use of Malampaya funds-A A +A
Friday, October 4, 2013
MANILA -- A lawmaker allied with the Aquino administration on Friday sought to amend a Martial Law-era decree used as an excuse by those charged with plunder over the misuse of P900 million in royalties from the Malampaya gas fund.
In House Bill 2960, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone sought to amend the second paragraph of Section 8 of Presidential Decree (PD) 910 which gives the President wide discretion on how to use the Malampaya funds.
Once approved in Congress, Section 8 will read as follows: "All fees, revenues and receipts... as well as the government share representing royalties, rentals, production share on service contracts and similar payments on the exploration, development and exploitation of energy resources, shall form part of a special fund to be used to finance energy resource development, exploitation, and such other energy-related programs and projects of the government as may be hereafter directed by the President."
The amended provision specifically limits the discretion of the president to use the Malampaya fund for any other purpose except for "energy-related programs and projects."
"Recent events have exposed the anomalous exercise of the broad Executive discretion over the Malampaya ‘special funds’ (allegedly in the past administration) which resulted in dissipation of billions of pesos. This highlighted the urgent need for Congress to revisit and modify the law in the exercise of its constitutional duty to check on the activities of the Executive Branch, a co-equal body," Evardone said in the bill's explanatory note.
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita cited PD 910 as the basis for diverting P900 million in Malampaya funds supposedly for farmer-beneficiaries who were affected by cyclones "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" back in 2009. (See related story here.)
Malampaya Funds: Who got what?
The funds, however, went to bogus non-government organizations set up by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, also the alleged mastermind of another controversial scam involving the priority development assistance funds (PDAF) or pork barrel of congressmen and senators.
Arroyo and Ermita were among those charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman Thursday.
Of the P900 million Malampaya funds, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said P337.77 million went to the pockets of government officials.
"While recognizing that Section 8, paragraph 2, PD No. 910 came in handy in the rehabilitation of the Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng devastations, this bill seeks to amend the same provision, hoping to limit the prerogatives of Chief Executive insofar as the disposition of the special funds, and thus avoid the recurrence of scandalous expenditure of moneys coming from said fund. This bill proposes the course of action Congress must take to restore the balance of power for the benefit of the people," Evardone said. (Sunnex)