Students want Aquino’s ‘pork’ abolished

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Saturday, February 1, 2014


STUDENT leaders and organizations called anew for the abolition of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) believing it is a part of the graft-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and a people’s consultation to replace the “pork barrel” system.

“Although PDAF was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, there is a need to increase the campaign on other forms of ‘pork’ and advance the people’s initiative,” said Raymond Palatino, former representative of Kabataan Party-list.

Part of the people’s initiative is the consultation of different sectors in society about the system that could replace the pork barrel.

“It is not the role of the congressmen and senators to access funds for projects and the like. They should be studying the problems of our society and make laws,” Palatino said.

Palatino added the insights from the people’s initiative would be consolidated to create a law regarding the alternative system from the pork barrel system.

Professor Geoffrey Salgado, chairperson of Barug-NA-IIT, said the people’s initiative is a good practice of democracy.

Salgado is an instructor of history department in Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).

He added the voice of the people needs to be heard in formulating new state policies like the replacement of the PDAF.

Salgado said: “It is important to consult the people especially when deciding what is beneficial and good for them.”

He added that apart from the consultations, it is important that the funds intended for pork barrel will be rechanneled to basic social services—education, health, housing, etc.

More to that, Palatino said the government officials and other individuals involved in the pork barrel scam should be held accountable.

“It is important to organize the Filipino people against corruption, against DAP and other forms of ‘pork barrel’ and instill the ideas of the people to the system through the ‘people’s initiative,’” said Palatino.

No info

Meanwhile, Bagyong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) through its website, stated the group has been deprived of important information regarding DAP.

Bayan is a petitioner in the Supreme Court in the ongoing case against DAP.

Secretary General of Bayan, Renato Reyes Jr., said: “Our lawyers were utterly disappointed with the documents they received from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).”

Reyes said it failed to shed light to their lawyers about how DAP was sourced and how it was used.

Students’ involvement

Palatino said the students should get involved in the political arena.

He said the students, especially in state colleges and universities, were gravely affected by the pork barrel scam.

“They should not allow another pork barrel system that will affect the budget on education,” said Palatino.

He added that the money of the taxpayers should be safeguarded against corruption and should be spent on education and other social services.

Chairperson of Youth Act Now (YAN), Bryan Juanico, said the MSU-IIT and MSU suffered budget cuts that caused tuition fee rate hikes.

He added if the money that went to corruption were spent on education, budget cuts that led to college dropouts could have been prevented.

Juanico agreed that the students should organize themselves, along with other sectors in society, to act against corruption.

He said that the students should help heighten the call to end the pork barrel and promote better alternatives.

On Thursday, around 300 students gathered in MSU-IIT to learn more about the evils of the pork barrel and discussed its effect to students.

They also brainstormed for better alternatives to PDAF.

The forum for students was spearheaded by Barug-Na-IIT along with other political organizations like Stand-IIT and Kabataan Party list.

Aquino government’s appeal

According the government’s Official Gazette (www.gov.ph), DAP is a stimulus package under the Aquino administration designed to “fast-track public spending and push economic growth.

DAP, the gazette said, covers high-impact budgetary programs and projects which will be augmented out of the savings generated during the year and additional revenue sources.

It was conceptualized in September 2011 and introduced the following month, “in the context of the prevailing under spending in government disbursements for the first eight months of 2011 that dampened the country’s economic growth.”

Upon the recommendation of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) and the Cabinet Clusters, the DAP was approved by the President on October 12, 2011.

“While the economy has generally improved in 2012 and 2013, the use of DAP was continued to sustain the pace of public spending as well as economic expansion,” the gazette added.

Earlier this week, the government has appealed to the Supreme Court to dismiss petitions from civil society groups and individuals who are asking DAP to be declared as unconstitutional.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 01, 2014.

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