Rehab budget

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Thursday, December 5, 2013

ONE thing that is now quite sure is that our country’s leaders cannot just have certain sources of funds “abolished” at the behest of any of the government’s three branches.

The President, instead of helping do away with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in order to place his administration on a clean slate, took a different move.

What President Noynoy Aquino did was legitimize the spending of those funds by appointing reportedly former senator Panfilo Lacson as the rehabilitation “czar.”

Of course, the former senator has generated an image of being apolitical during his six years as member of the Senate. He did not receive and spend his Pdaf allotment, so he can say that he was never involved with the infamous scam in Congress. He remained immaculate as lawmaker.

But Ping is not alone on that pedestal. I recall that former senator Joker Arroyo, who many years ago was a classmate in History at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, also did not accept his pork barrel as tool for politics.

Instead he proposed projects or recommended projects that were directly funded at his instance.

One such project was the lighting of the Transcentral highway from Barangay Gaas to Balamban proper. The project was done in cooperation with Globe Telecom. This was told to me by his provincial leader during the 2010 campaign.

It seems that power lines of Globe from the Gaas boundary to Balamban were always cut by thieves who sold the copper wires. And the project was proposed to Joker.

In order to save on cost, Joker was told that he could fund the lighting using every wire post of Globe. The joint project was done and the Transcentral highway has been lighted all the way to my town.

My point is that the abolition of the Pdaf and the DAP should not be a matter of political whim. The devastation brought about by the twin calamities that hit this nation in October and November could not, and should not, be taken lightly.

The victims of the disasters that wrought havoc on many parts of this island-province alone need immediate help. And Ping, with the support of the government, can very well accomplish that rehabilitation.

Incidentally, the Senate approved the other day a supplemental budget of P14.6 billion to add to the previous fund appropriated for the rehabilitation efforts in calamity-hit areas, particularly those ravaged by super-typhoon Yolanda.

On the other hand, in the House, bill No. 3423, which was also for the rehabilitation effort, has “clinched the support” of 15 senators as the budget was going to (come) from the unspent Pdaf that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

If this be so, then really rehabilitation takes top priority. The thing is, we need an estimated P143 billion to reconstruct and rehabilitate our country.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 05, 2013.


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