Editorial: Alternative to PDAF-A A +A
Saturday, December 28, 2013
THE bill filed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III has been tagged as an alternative to the abolished Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Senate Bill No. 2045 aims to increase the internal revenue allotment (IRA) share of local government units by amending certain provisions of the Local Government Code.
Pimentel is the son of the “father” of the Local Government Code, former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., so he knows what he is doing. The logic is that by increasing the IRA, local government units can use the additional revenues for projects that lawmakers can no longer fund.
But are local government officials ready for it?
While ideally local government officials know better the needs of their constituents, there’s also the point that politics often cloud their better judgment. This is especially true in far-flung areas where warlords maraud. Then there’s the matter of competence.
That does not mean the increase in the IRA share of local government units is not necessary. They need it. What is debatable is whether the increase in IRA can really compensate for the PDAF loss.
The point is that while the PDAF was vulnerable to corruption, it served some purpose.
It was used to fund legitimate programs and projects that the national government could not provide. These include those for health, education and barangay-level concerns.
With the Supreme Court shooting down the PDAF, most of these legitimate programs and projects will have to be shelved. Funding support for, say, the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center will be affected. So too appropriation for the lawmakers’ scholarship programs.
To compensate for that, a new setup needs to be hatched. Whatever that setup would be should be thoroughly studied by whoever will propose the measure in Congress. It should be something that would ensure the continuity of funding for legitimate programs and projects.
The study should consider the following realities: one, the Metro Manila-centric nature of the national government; two, the weaknesses of local governance (factor in, for example, politicking and capability).
Coming up with such a measure can be a challenge for current lawmakers.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 28, 2013.