MANILA -- District lawmakers will get an additional P65 million fund for disbursement in national roads and bridges on top of their P70 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel .
The P50 million will come from the lump sum fund of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) while the P15 million will be sourced from the road user’s tax.
But the additional allocation could reach P25 million, Representative Ben Evardone (lone district, Eastern Samar) told reporters.
This after House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said the national expenditure program (NEP) for 2011 indicates that "certain amounts" will be spent by the DPWH in various districts.
For instance, the first district of Pampanga will get a budget of P6 million while the second district, where former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo now serves as congresswoman, will receive as high as P2.2 billion.
Most of the districts in Metro Manila will get less than P50 million.
"We have not gone over the lump sum, I suppose part of this money that is being talked about now will have to come from within the budget of DPWH," Belmonte said.
Although the DPWH has the power to identify the projects, district lawmakers also have a say on where the funds should be appropriated.
A party-list lawmaker expressed dismay over the issue, saying the allocation from the DPWH is in exchange for the approval of the controversial P21 billion conditional cash transfer, the flagship project of the Aquino government.
Party-list congressmen will not get the additional P65 million.
"I am shocked that the DBM agreed to give all district representatives additional funds from the 2011 DPWH lump sums, as admitted by the House leadership. This is on top of existing pork barrel funds," said Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino.
"Is this the price Malacanang wants to pay to ensure the smooth approval of its preferred pork: the conditional cash transfers? Biglang lumiko and tuwid na daan pagdating sa Kongreso," he added. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)