Drilon: Senate will 'dissolve' pork even without SC declaration-A A +A
Saturday, October 12, 2013
SENATE President Franklin Drilon confirmed that the senators will exercise all options available to them to dissolve the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel even in the absence of a Supreme Court ruling declaring it unconstitutional.
According to Drilon, they will act on this immediately stating that majority of the senators have publicly declared that they will do away with the PDAF allocations in 2014 in response to the people cry for change.
“Under my watch as Senate President, reforms will start with the immediate abolition of PDAF allocation for senators in the proposed 2014 national budget,” said Drilon.
Drilon said, the will of the people is the law itself and the voice of the people should be heard.
“There is no turning back as far as the pork barrel system is concerned. We have to institute these reforms in order to regain our people’s trust and confidence,” stressed Drilon.
Drilon issued a statement in response to Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s opinion that only an act of Congress or a Supreme Court ruling can abolish the PDAF.
He said there are available remedies to the Executive and the Congress to get rid of the pork barrel.
“We do not need a special law to abolish PDAF as an item in the General Appropriations Act. Aside from a court ruling that will declare the PDAF unconstitutional, the Executive or the Congress may exercise other options to abolish congressional pork barrel to respond to the clamor of the people,” said Drilon.
First, the President may opt not to include the PDAF item in the National Expenditures Program when he submits it to Congress on an annual basis, Drilon said.
Second, the Congress may delete the PDAF item in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), an option which the Senate intends to do when the 2014 proposed national budget reaches the Senate.
Third, if Congress passes the national budget with PDAF, the President can exercise power of line item veto. Lastly, the President can fully or partially impound release of any item in the GAA, including PDAF.
In earlier reports, House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. said PDAF would be effectively abolished by the time of the 2014 national budget, noting that this year’s budget still covered the particular lump sum.
In the proposed P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget, the P25-billion lump sum originally intended for pork barrel was realigned to six government agencies namely the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Health.
Both Drilon and Belmonte assured that the end is near for the controversial pork barrel for 2014.
Meanwhile, Drilon said the Senate will also prioritize the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, which is crucial in the fight against corruption, when the Senate resumes its session on Monday.
“We will begin the period of interpellations on the proposed legislation this week, so that it will be approved by the end of the year,” he said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)