Senator calls for ‘unconditional surrender’ of PDAF-A A +A
Saturday, October 19, 2013
"UNCONDITIONAL surrender of PDAF. No Epal required."
This was the response of Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto after Senate President Franklin Drilon said he will let senators decide on the abolition of the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) from the 2014 budget.
"In my view, senators should have no say on where, how and when it will be spent. It can be called an unconditional surrender of these allocations, or a no-strings-attached waiver of funds. It will be up to Malacanang to write on the blank checks. No attribution needed," said Recto Saturday.
Recto said the earlier pronouncement of senators on the PDAF issue should be taken seriously by each member of the Senate considering the people's outrage over the alleged multi-billion pesos PDAF scam of Janet Napoles.
"Our only request is that disbursements be announced publicly and the details of fund releases posted in various government websites," said Recto, adding that government agencies must be given the priority to decide on where to use the funds.
Recto also urged the implementing agencies in receipt of the scuttled PDAF to speed up, but without short-circuiting the rules, the delivery of aid to victims and the reconstruction of their communities.
The Senate President Pro Tempore said the fast delivery of service to the people must be observed carefully and should be implemented accordingly.
He said that allotment delayed is aid denied.
The National Government, Recto said, should explore expedited forms of procurement, like emergency purchases, which will comply with all laws but will result in faster delivery of relief goods and rehabilitation materials.
"As one would not haggle with the price of a water hose when his neighbor's house is on fire, this government should not take the circuitous route of posting invitation to bid notices and holding lengthy pre-bid conferences for foodstuff meant for people who have not eaten for days," Recto said.
Drilon, for his part, said he will personally ask each senator on the matter in order to persuade them to delete or waive their P200-million PDAF from the proposed P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget.
No less than President Benigno Aquino III reportedly instructed his allies in Congress to delete the PDAF in the General Appropriations bill.
Drilon said there are 17 pro-abolition senators while three others, whom he refused to name, have reportedly expressed their desire to waive their PDAF.
Drilon, who was elected Senate President by 17 out of 24 senators at the start of the 16th Congress in July, expressed confidence that the majority would back the deletion of the PDAF item in the 2014 budget.
The Senate leader said he proposed that senators give up their PDAF to the last centavo and channel the funds to the victims of calamities.
Aside from Recto and Drilon, those who made a strong position to abolish their PDAF, include Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Senator Gregorio Honasan and Senator Vicente Sotto III.
Sotto said he will not anymore wait for the senators to decide on the matter. As far as he is concerned, Sotto said he will definitely give it up.
Senator Grace Poe, for her part, said senators should focus on legislation "because that is our primary obligation."
Meanwhile, Drilon cited at least two options for the Senate to delete PDAF from the 2014 budget: In case of a consensus, the Senate could adopt a resolution excising the entire PDAF item; or, if there is no consensus, each senator could introduce an individual amendment waiving his or her allocation. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)