Drilon: Line-item budgeting ensures transparency-A A +A
Saturday, August 24, 2013
TAKING away discretion from lawmakers in the assignment and implementation of projects will help address corruption and political patronage, Senate President Franklin Drilon said Saturday.
Drilon lauded President Benigno Aquino III’s decision to abolish the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) starting next year, saying the new system assures that projects asked by senators and congressmen will undergo review by agencies expected to implement them.
Consumable projects such as agricultural inputs, training materials, livelihood projects as well as temporary infrastructure (dredging, desilting, asphalt overlaying) have also been delisted from the projects that lawmakers can propose to be allocated.
These projects are known to be susceptible to abuse like overpricing or ghost or incomplete deliveries, as reported by the Commission on Audit in its special audit of the pork barrel from 2007 to 2009.
"What is also important is that these initiatives will follow other government regulations such as the projects identified by the lawmakers will undergo the usual government bidding process, thus enhancing transparency," said Drilon.
But limiting discretion of spending funds to the President may not be good at all, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said, as this will result in lawmakers lobbying for Palace support on projects for districts or sectoral constituencies.
"The door thus remains open to pork," FDC said.
An official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) welcomed Aquino's statement on the abolition of the pork barrel system but said it "lacks the time frame."
"PDAF should be scrapped, and it should be done now, not in 2014! If it is acknowledged to be defective, why still continue it?" CBCP – National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (Nassa) chairman Bishop Broderick Pabillo said in a statement.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, meanwhile, called for "greater transparency, accountability and impartiality" in implementing Aquino's order to abolish pork barrel.
He also wanted a full accounting of PDAF disbursements in the Arroyo and Aquino administrations "if only to assure our people that the sins we assigned to the previous regime are no longer with us." (Virgil Lopez/HDT/Sunnex)