Oro lawmaker open to Senate inquiry-A A +A
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
IN LIGHT of the latest episode of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel controversy, the city’s first district Representative Rolando Uy is willing to submit himself to a Senate investigation to prove his innocence.
Uy, whose name was dragged in the P1.7 billion pork barrel funds intended for agricultural projects and programs from 2007 to 2009, said he has nothing to hide, as his conscience is clear.
In a follow-up interview with this paper Wednesday, Uy reiterated that he had no dealings with either the Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation (GPMF) or the Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation (KAMF) during his first term as congressman.
“I have no problem with that (Senate inquiry). Wala man koy nahimong kasal-anan. Wala koy nabulsa nga kwarta sa gobyerno,” he said.
Uy, in the report, allocated a portion of his PDAF amounting to P8 million to fund projects for the two foundations, an allegation that he strongly denied.
But Uy is aware of the modus operandi that these questionable foundations or nongovernment organizations use in funneling public funds that the government has claimed now runs in the billions of pesos.
He said representatives of these groups would approach a congressman who has prospective projects and then promised him they will “take care of it.”
On paper, Uy added, congressional projects have to be implemented but those initiated by foundations or NGOs were not fully realized.
“Daghan ‘mi sa congress naapil nga wala gyuy hinanawan (A lot of us in the congress were dragged but we don’t have knowledge of it),” he said.
Uy is not afraid to appear before the Senate committee hearing since it’s the only way to prove that he is not a part of the pork barrel scam.
‘Soft’ and ‘hard’ projects
Uy said the projects linked to the pork barrel scam were not part of the regular PDAF since funds have already been allocated prior to its approval by the congressional committee tasked to review the PDAFs.
Prior to its abolition, Uy said the PDAF was divided into two: “soft” projects like scholarships and medical assistance, while “hard” projects refer to infrastructure.
For the soft projects, the allocation is P30 million per year from the P70 million annual PDAF, released in two tranches with P15 million per tranche.
Before the congressional funds are released by the Department of Budget and Management, Uy said it has to pass through the Lower House committee tasked to review the funds if these comply with the guidelines.
If these do not pass, the committee will return them to the proponent.
“Release of funds is not instant. You have to pass through a stringent process,” Uy said.
Uy added the congressman couldn’t divert the soft budget since it’s already been specifically allocated for scholarship, medical services and the like.
Last year, when the PDAF was not yet abolished by the Supreme Court and the lawmakers were supposed to receive their pork’s second tranche, the DBM stopped releasing it.
To serve without pork
But Uy said the absence of pork barrel would not deter him from fulfilling his mandate as his district’s representative.
“For me, even without the PDAF, I will continue to serve my constituents,” he said.
“It’s our role to explain to the people that PDAF is no longer there but we will still serve,” he added.
But without the PDAF, the kind of services that congressmen will extend will no longer be the same.
For example, Uy had allocated funds for dialysis for the indigent patients so they can avail of this service at the government-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC).
“The funds for dialysis are allocated for the NMMC indigent patients. So, there was no problem then,” he said.
Uy furthered he is still determined to push through with the scholarship program but he is still waiting for the guidelines from the Commission on Higher Education (Ched).
“We are still waiting for the Ched guidelines. Whatever the guidelines are we will follow,” he said.
Uy said the pork barrel scam exposé is laudable but it not only affected the lawmaker’s constituents as far as extending the services are concerned, it also wrongfully accused those congressmen whose only intention is to serve the people.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 20, 2014.