Editorial: Pork and choice cuts-A A +A
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
SOME legislators are reportedly circulating a statement to ask that their pork barrel funds be abolished, in response to the outrage that surrounds Janet Lim-Napoles.
The public’s indignation is not surprising. But calls to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF), while popular, may not be the best solution.
The Aquino administration’s promise to remove the pork from next year’s General Appropriations Act may simply result in the funds getting sent to government agencies—including the same implementing agencies that, government auditors say, made it possible for billions of pork barrel funds to be misused.
Take the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The Commission on Audit (COA), after reviewing some PDAF releases from 2007 to 2009, said that DSWD’s central and some regional offices (but not the one in Central Visayas) transferred P107 million to cooperatives so these could buy equipment or sustain microfinance activities.
Unfortunately, “a number of recipients” said they never received these funds, COA said in the report it sent last Aug. 14, 2013 to Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
DBM itself, at least from 2007 to 2009, failed to provide the complete schedule of pork barrel releases per legislator. This, said COA, prevented auditors from reviewing all the transactions legislators charged to the PDAF and the Various Infrastructure including Local Projects (VILP) funds under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
As to DPWH, it released P50.87 billion more than the approved VILP for those years, COA said. You read that right: P50.87 billion, not all of which auditors have been able to trace as yet.
We applaud the vigilance of citizens who have spoken up against corruption and filled social media with calls to #ScrapPork. But let’s think, too, about how else we can compel a more transparent use of public funds—especially by executive agencies that may end up getting control over more of them. The same executive agencies that, it now appears, made it possible for billions to disappear into bogus NGOs in the first place.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 04, 2013.