More Cebu officials support PDAF abolition-A A +A
Saturday, August 24, 2013
MORE Cebu City officials favor the abolition of the pork barrel while one says the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) is a mechanism to equitably distribute national resources.
Mayor Michael Rama was glad about the pronouncement of President Benigno Aquino III that it is time to abolish the PDAF.
“I have always been against pork barrel. The legislators are there to make laws,” said Rama, a sentiment that Marc Canton of the Movement for Liveable Cebu shared.
Canton does not believe the pork barrel is really evil, but legislators — senators and
congressmen – are paid to legislate good and relevant laws.
“(Aquino’s) being a statesman prevails over his being a politician. I think he will go down in history as the most outstanding Philippine President,” Democrito Barcenas, Free Legal Aid Group (Flag) 7 chief, told Sun. Star Cebu in a phone interview.
Barcenas, Liberal Party-Cebu spokesperson, said 70 percent of the graft and corruption has been solved with the abolition of the pork barrel.
He said savings from the abolition of PDAF can be used to build houses, hospitals, schools and other projects.
Legislators will have to abide by the President’s decision since it is the Office of the President that prepares the annual allocation to be endorsed to the Department of Budget and Management, Barcenas said.
Rep. Wilfredo Caminero (Cebu, 2nd district) is hopeful there will be another way to help the programs of local government units (LGUs) if PDAF is abolished.
“If that is the statement of the president then wala nata’y makomentaryo ana (we have nothing to comment about)”, Caminero said.
Caminero, a first-term congressman, said the purpose of the PDAF is to help LGUs whose programs are not covered by the National Government.
Rep. Luigi Quisumbing (Cebu, sixth district) supports the abolition of PDAFD.
In a press release, Quisumbing said it has been his transparency on public funds is his advocacy since he started his public service in 2004.
“While the original intent of the PDAF policy cannot be faulted in its goal to deliver much needed services directly to our constituents, the President has the wisdom to recognize that the PDAF’s susceptibility to abuse warrants a second look and even abolition”, said Quisumbing.
Quisumbing, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said they will study how the social services, local infrastructure and other projects formerly addressed by the PDAF can be incorporated to the programs of the National Government.
Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north district) wanted reforms in the budgeting but with Aquino’s pronouncement, the congressman has no objection.
“That’s the quickest and surest way to stop any further misuse and abuse of PDAF. I just hope that I can source funding for my medical assistance program, which has helped so many of our poor, as well as the minimum wage earners,” said del Mar.
Councilor Alvin Dizon applauded Aquino’s statement.
“It’s a substantial step towards deeper systematic budget reforms. While the president’s statement is well appreciated, it must not dampen the people’s vigilance to fight corruption,” said Dizon.
But for Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa (Cebu City, south), the announcement of Aquino was a sad one for the marginalized.
“If the PDAF is abolished, what is the alternative? Do we want a setup where we either lick or fight imperial Malacañang for our fair share of the national budget?” asked Abellanosa.
“That is bloodier than the present setup of the PDAF’s automatic equal appropriation for all the districts of the country,” said Abellanosa.
On Monday, netizens will stage a protest in Cebu City to call for the abolition of PDAF.
“It is the netizens’ awakening... PDAF is one of the symptoms of patronage politics,” said Luy Alix. “It will be a march against the pork barrel and corruption.”
Alix is one of the organizers of the “People Power vs. Pork Barrel: Abolish the pork barrel/jail all the scammers.”
The plan for the rally started as a conversation among friends on Facebook, a social networking site, she said. It will coincide with a protest in Manila.
“It was with growing indignation and frustration as we read more about the P10 billion PDAF scam that Cebu’s citizens have to act. Cebu’s concerned citizens will be supporting the ‘Million Man March to Luneta’ to voice our indignation of the PDAF scam and corruption,” read the press statement.
Rowena Burden said they expected 3,000 to 5,000 persons to join the rally, which will start from the Fuente Osmeña at 7 a.m. The protesters then will march toward Plaza Independencia.
She said no politicians will be allowed to deliver speeches.
The group, which is mostly professionals, asked everyone to wear white shirt and bring Philippine flags. The participants are requested not to wear clothes that “might
identify their political, organizational, or other affiliations.”
Burden said she is glad President Aquino announced his support to abolish the PDAF.
Aquino has retracted his earlier stand not to abolish the funds that are used by public officials for their projects.
He said despite the reforms that his administration has implemented on the use of PDAF, the events of the past weeks have shown that greater change is necessary to fight those who are determined to abuse the system, Sunnex reported.
Aquino was apparently referring to the state auditors’ report about the multi-billion pork barrel funds, which were allegedly misused from 2007 to 2009 by channeling the funds to questionable non-government organizations (NGO), such as those linked to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
The PDAF system started in 1990 during the administration of Aquino’s mother, the late President Cory Aquino, GMA news online reported.
Aquino said a new mechanism will be created to address the needs of the people. The lawmakers will have to course their projects through the budget process, he said.
Marc Canton said PDAF is “just beautiful in theory,” because some politicians used the funds for their own interest.
Dr. Shawn Perez Espina believes the Philippines will progress and the politicians can help their constituents without the pork barrel.
“Atong bantayan atong gisingtan nga kwarta kay di man na ila (Let’s guard our hard-earned money because it’s not theirs),” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 25, 2013.