No guidelines yet on new ‘pork’ system-A A +A
Friday, August 30, 2013
HOUSE leaders will conduct massive consultations among local communities, political party leaders and individual congressmen on how the abolished priority development assistance funds (PDAF) will be integrated in the national budget.
Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr., vice-chair of the House committee on appropriations and former secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), said they have been tasked by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to ensure that the abolition of PDAF will not delay the approval of the budget.
Following the controversial multi-billion pork barrel scam, President Benigno Aquino III decided to abolish the PDAF. Each congressman receives P70-billion in PDAF yearly while senators are entitled to P200 million.
"We were tasked to conduct massive consultations. The Speaker has indicated to us some guidelines. First of all, NGOs (non-government organizations) are no longer allowed; no consumables such as fertilizer, seeds, anything that is difficult to account, it will be prohibited," Andaya said.
Businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, who surrendered to President Aquino Wednesday night, allegedly channeled billions of PDAF to dubious NGOs.
Instead of a lump-sum item, the P27-billion appropriation for PDAF for the year 2014 will be itemized in the national expenditure program.
Senators and congressmen, however, shall still propose projects and programs intended for their districts and sectors.
Andaya said the House appropriations committee has yet to agree whether the amount appropriated to each congressman will stay at P70 million.
"We are sticking to what the president said on the menu. We'll still talk about the amount. It would take some time because of the consultation process," he said.
Andaya assured Malacanang that the new guidelines will not delay the approval of the proposed 2014 budget.
Under the Aquino administration, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the proposed state budget on time, usually on the month of December. Congress, under the Constitution, holds the power of the purse.
"Chairman Ungab gave a commitment that we will finish it on time…It has to be done before we pass the budget," Andaya said referring to House appropriations committee chairman Isidro Ungab.
Budget hearings in the committee level are scheduled until next month. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)