By Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
“Stop pulling our legs, Mr. President. All ‘pork’ and ‘pork-like funds’ must be abolished permanently!”
This is the response of Edwin Bustillos, APL Deputy Secretary General, to PNoy’s declaration this morning that, “it is time to abolish PDAF.”
“What we heard is a promise to do away with PDAF, but not to discard with Pork Barrel and other discretionary funds,” Bustillos said.
The executive branch would still retain its own version of the pork barrel in the form of the “highly discretionary” special purpose funds (SPFs) and so-called lump sum funds, which, like the PDAF, are very vulnerable to abuse or prone to corruption.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) revealed that “SPFs and lump-sums constitute still over half” of the P2.006 trillion of the national budget for 2013. Likewise, other studies show that SPFs alone already account to a huge 22 percent of the planned P2.3-trillion national budget next year.
Some groups asserted that Aquino’s “pork barrel” last year allegedly reached to P24.8 billion and P34.5 billion this year. Identified as in effect the President’s massive “pork barrels” because of his discretionary powers on them are the President’s Social Fund (PSF), and the Office of the President’s intelligence funds, contingent funds, calamity funds, unprogrammed funds, e-government funds, support for infrastructure and social programs.
Leonor Briones, former National Treasurer, even claimed that Aquino practically has at least P1 trillion “pork” or about half of the proposed 2014 GAA, including P229 billion in SPFs and P139 billion in unprogrammed funds, which could only be released upon his approval.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, on the other hand, has his own annual pork kitty of P200 million aside from the regular budget of his office. He reportedly requested for this fund, and was endorsed by both administration and opposition senators in 2010.
“Furthermore, we should press for the audit of all discretionary funds even during the time of PNoy,” Bustillos added.
Is pork abolished or not?—workers group confused
By Labor Party - Philippines
The workers group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) is asking President Benigno Aquino III to hold another presscon to clarify whether the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) is indeed abolished or not as his announcement today left people confused about his position.
Still PM asserted that the reforms declared by the President Benigno Aquino about the congressional pork barrel are not enough. “At best the reforms may curb rampant corruption but PNoy’s insistence in maintaining the pork barrel means he is strengthening it as an instrument of patronage,” said Renato Magtubo, PM chair.
He added that “Only the politically naïve will swallow PNoy’s alibi that pork barrel is necessary to deliver social services to the grassroots. The pork barrel is a political not a development tool. On the part of the national government, the pork barrel is a carrot to buy the support of Congress. While on the part of solons, pork barrel is indispensable to sustain the loyalty of ward leaders and ordinary voters.”
PM is joining the rally in Luneta on Monday to call for the abolition of pork barrel and the prosecution of those involved in the scam. The group’s chapters in Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo and Iligan are also participating in similar activities in the provinces on August 26.
The labor group is advocating the realignment of the pork barrel into a fund for universal social protection. “The PDAF, the Presidential Social Fund and other incarnations of the pork barrel must be directly allotted to social services that will be accessible to all Filipinos as a matter of right and not targeted or discretionary. In this way, the evil of patronage and corruption is removed the delivery of necessary social services such as Philhealth coverage, socialized housing, subsidies for the MRT and LRT and employment guarantee,” explained Magtubo.
Aquino urged to dispel doubts– don't resurrect PDAF under new name, scrap executive pork and clip fiscal powers
By Akbayan (Citizens Action Party)
Akbayan Partylist lawmakers today urged President Benigno Simeon Aquino III not to resurrect the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), scrap his own pork barrel fund and clip his fiscal powers over the budget system to cast away doubts regarding his sincerity on the pork barrel issue.
"While we laud President Aquino's statement saying that it is time to abolish PDAF, we strongly warn him not to reincarnate it under new names or forms. His statement is already one step away from outright abolition of the pork barrel system, hence, the people will not accept any substitute," Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said.
"Ilibing ang dapat ilibing" - Bury those that need to be buried
Bello said the proposed new system of line-item budgeting along with the President's silence on the "executive pork barrel" have caused some sectors to call into question the sincerity of the President's desire to truly reform the budget process. The Akbayan lawmaker has also raised the question of a dangerous concentration of power in the Executive.
"The people don't want a change of name or form for the PDAF or a change of hands in the management of the fund. President Aquino should just get rid of it completely and veto it from the 2014 budget. Nananawagan ako sa Presidente, hindi pa man naililibing ang PDAF huwag na niya itong hubugin pa sa ibang anyo. Ilibing ang dapat ilibing, (I call the president attention to bury PDAF and not to mold it into a different form. " Bello said.
Akbayan to Pnoy: Sacrifice for the greater good
Meanwhile, Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez called on the Aquino to "sacrifice for the greater good" by setting the example of letting go of his own pork barrel fund and subjecting to strong regulations his fiscal powers over the national budget.
"President Aquino's statement was courageous as it went against his political interest. Now we urge him to go beyond courage and sacrifice for the greater good of the people by scrapping all forms of pork barrel including his and clipping his fiscal powers over the budget system," Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said one of the best ways for President Aquino to address those who doubt his sincerity is to scrap his executive pork which reportedly amounted to P450 billion in the 2014 national budget.
Gutierrez also said strict controls should be imposed on the Executive branch's discretion over the budget by putting in place limits and procedures to regulate the president's authority to defer, rescind and reserve Congressional expenditures.
He said Akbayan already filed an Impoundment Control Bill for this purpose.
"In many cases, most prevalent during the previous regime, the uncertainty in the release of allotment, government instrumentalities and other local government units become vulnerable to patronage politics and other corrupt practices as they fall prey to the whimsical exercise of deferment, recession and reversion of funding from the executive," Gutierrez said.
"Having filed a similar bill before when he was still a senator, we are confident that President Aquino will support this even as it clips his discretionary control over the budget. We look forward to that he will go beyond courage and sacrifice for the greater good," Gutierrez said.
Luneta event: Jogging, synchronized dance exercise and "Pinoy games"
Yesterday, Akbayan said that the Luneta march against the pork barrel on Monday must proceed as scheduled. The group said while the President's statement is widely appreciated it must not dampen our vigilance to fight for the all-out abolition of the pork barrel system.
The Akbayan contingent comprised of students, women and informal settlers will jog from Kalaw St. to Luneta wherein they will conduct a synchronized dance exercise.
The group will also organize "Pinoy games" with a strong anti-pork barrel flavor. Some of the games they have in store for the event are piggy sack race, luksong baboy, pupok the pork palayok, pin the pig's tail and pop the pork (balloons).
Akbayan will also join the protest organized in other parts of country such as Baguio, Cebu, Bicol, Zamboanga and Davao.
Posted by DeLPhi
APL, PM, Akbayan