Palace: No veto on Estrada's 'pork'-A A +A
Saturday, January 11, 2014
MALACAÑANG clarified Saturday that President Benigno Aquino III did not directly veto the P200-million pork barrel that Senator Jinggoy Estrada realigned to local governments, including to the city of Manila where his father, deposed President Joseph Estrada, is the mayor.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that what the President has stated in his message when he signed the 2014 budget on the younger Estrada's Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was that it was under "conditional implementation."
"There are guidelines that have to be drafted for the utilization of that particular fund. I understand that there are some lawmakers who are...interpreting it to be a direct veto, but according to (Budget) Secretary (Florencio) Abad, it's not necessarily a veto," she said over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
But she added that this was also the reason why the Palace has to confer with the legislators "to understand exactly what the intent behind the amendment" on the 2014 General Appropriations Act.
Some lawmakers have said that the President's action on Estrada's pork barrel could be considered a direct veto.
Estrada, one of the three senators facing plunder raps before the Ombudsman for alleged misuse of pork barrel in the past years, has allocated P100 million of his PDAF to the city of Manila, P50 million to Caloocan City, and P50 million to Lal-lo, Cagayan.
Some congressmen were dismayed at Estrada's action as they had been told by the House leadership not to channel their PDAF to LGUs so as not to violate the Supreme Court decision, which struck down pork barrel as unconstitutional.
But Senator Francis Escudero, the Senate finance committee head, had said the ruling only applies to the previous practice of legislators to intervene in the implementation of projects.
He said the changes to the budget bill by the nine senators who re-aligned their PDAF are consistent with Congress' power of the purse.
The Palace agreed that the re-alignment was legal. (SDR/Sunnex)