Pork Barrel Abolition Act proposed

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Saturday, May 24, 2014


MULTI-SECTORAL groups from Cebu and Manila that advocate the abolition of the pork barrel met yesterday at the Cebu Archbishop’s Palace to present a proposed people’s initiative that aims to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The move came after it was revealed that P10 billion worth of congressional funds allegedly went to dubious nongovernment organizations.

The Supreme Court already ruled the PDAF as unconstitutional, but Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the fund was not abolished. He said the money was realigned and poured into different government agencies.

Lawyer Rex Fernandez of the Cebu Coalition Against The Pork Barrel System said the passage of the Pork Barrel Abolition Act will not be through Congress. Since it is a people’s initiative, a people’s congress will tackle it, he said.

Ratification

He said 10 percent of the country’s total registered voter population will vote for its passage and it will be ratified.

“After the ratification, it will then become a law without passing through the Congress,” Fernandez said.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, as representative of the Roman Catholic Church, expressed his full support for the proposed move.

“It is very obvious that the pork barrel scam is a concern of our country. The hopes, dreams and concerns of the people in this world are also the concerns of the church.

The church in particular gives support in this initiative because this is part of the hopes and dreams of our people to have a better life,” Palma told reporters.

Addressing the issue

He said that after public attention was diverted to recent calamities, it’s time to talk about the problem.

He said the public is already experiencing the ill-effects of the controversy.

“It’s about time that we think of ways and means that we can make good use of our taxes and this people’s initiative is one way we can address the issue on pork barrel scam,” Palma said.

Palma said the public, as taxpayers, should be given the chance to recommend laws.

Under the proposed bill, all proposed budgets submitted to any legislative body will only contain itemized or line-up appropriations, except appropriations for purposes of relief and rescue operations during calamities and the intelligence fund.

The bill allows lump sum releases as long as these are supported with schedules and these indicate which government agencies they’re going to.

All unspent, unreleased and unobligated funds of any government agency by the end of the fiscal year will remain or revert to the general fund.

Anti-pork barrel advocates are confident the legislation will be passed and is set to conduct an information dissemination campaign.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 24, 2014.

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