It's final: Senators PDAF will go to calamity fund-A A +A
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
SENATORS agreed with finality Tuesday to realign the remaining pork barrel funds of the Senate for this year as calamity fund "savings."
Senate President Franklin Drilon said the pronouncement of the senators who all expressed willingness to let go of their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) is an act of abandonment of their activity, which is clearly stated in the General Appropriation Act (GAA) of 2013.
"It will constitute as a savings after the abandonment of the activity. The senators have manifested their desire to forego their PDAF and that is enough under the GAA to consider it as a savings," said Drilon, as he stressed that realignment of saving is allowed.
The issue of legality was raised by Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during Tuesday's session.
Enrile expressed his apprehension because of the constitutionality issue. The minority leader said it would be more appropriate to make a supplemental budget instead of realigning it, which the Commission on Audit might question later on.
But Drilon said PDAF is under the budget of the country's Chief Executive and not the budget of the Senate.
"It is created for specific purpose. It is not prohibited to realign these funds so long as the Senators have no authority to identify its uses under the calamity fund," said Drilon.
Enrile said the issuance of temporary restraining order of the Supreme Court might complicate matters because all transactions as far as PDAF is concerned is suspended at the moment until such time that the TRO will be lifted by the high tribunal.
Marcos, for his part, said he will not go against the realignment of the PDAF but expressed fear that the Senate might be violating the ruling of the court.
Senator Vicente Sotto III said he sees no reason why senators will not unite in realigning the funds for the use of helping the victims of calamities like the recent earthquake, the typhoon Santi victims and those who were affected during the Zamboanga siege.
Realigning the funds to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) will help for the speedy post-disaster recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the affected provinces in the aftermath of the devastating calamities that confronted the country, said Drilon who filed Senate Resolution 302, which sought to realign the remaining PDAF to the NDRRM.
Drilon said that as Filipinos, senators must set aside all political colors as he urged them to prioritize the present situation in the Visayas, particularly Bohol and Cebu that hit hard by a powerful magnitude-7.2 quake last week. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)