Lawmaker: Presidential pork may be used for 2016 polls

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

MANILA -- Following the bicameral conference committee's swift approval of the proposed 2014 budget, an opposition lawmaker warned of the Aquino administration's possible abuse of funds for the 2016 presidential elections.

In a statement sent to reporters, Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares said the bicam panel should have asserted its congressional power by demanding an itemized budget from the Executive department.

"The congressional bicam should have asserted our congressional power over the budget by insisting that President Aquino itemize these lump sums," Colmenares said.

"Now these funds are open to corruption or patronage politics in the run off to the 2016 elections. We should not allow ourselves to be a rubberstamp of the executive," he pointed out.

The ruling Liberal Party (LP) is likely to field Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas in the 2016 presidential polls.

Colmenares further said that the pork barrel system is "alive and kicking" in the 2014 budget with "hundreds of billions in lump sum for the president and his cabinet."

The budgetary item for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of congressmen and senators had been scrapped following the ruling of the Supreme Court that the pork barrel system is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the House of Representatives will likely ratify the bicam report on the 2014 budget next week before Congress goes on a month-long break.

"I'm very pleased with the bicam approval. It shows the rapport between the two houses of Congress. Depending on when the report is finished, we can tackle it as early as tonight but we have until next week to do," Belmonte said.

Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, for his part said the swift approval of the budget will help address the "urgent needs for reconstruction and rehabilitation" of areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda. (Sunnex)

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