US-based Pinoys support suspension of pork barrel

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN News North America Bureau

Posted at Aug 21 2013 10:20 AM | Updated as of Aug 21 2013 06:20 PM

NEW YORK - President Aquino said that releases under the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) have been suspended while the investigations into the alleged misuse of the pork barrel are underway.

Aquino said he is saddened by the Commision on Audit’s revelations of questionable use of the fund.

The Philippine Senate's Blue Ribbon Committee said an investigation on the scam that has linked lawmakers to the misuse of their pork barrel funds will begin.

Senator Teofisto Guingona said in a statement that the CoA's recent revelations on pork barrel misuse prompted their own probe — on top of the ongoing investigations conducted by the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

"It was our view that the preliminary findings by the DOJ and the NBI can serve as a basis for the Blue Ribbon Committee’s probe. COA findings can now serve as a basis as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to begin its probe," Guingona said,

The first hearing is scheduled on August 29.

Meantime, New York community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis said that US Pinoys for Good Governance supports these investigations.

"Look at this, itong mga involved dito sa scam na ito, yung pera, community development fund nasa bulsa lang nila. Sa akin yan ang tunay na walang hiya, so they should not be re-elected again for the Senate or for Congress," she said.

The President has maintained that there is no reason to abolish the pork barrel system because it addresses local needs that are unknown to the national government. He added that they are trying to come up with a system that prevents loopholes that lead to the abuse.

“Mayroon namang mga NGO na totoong tumutulong, na mawawalan ng access to resources na nakakatulong sa kanilang mga komunidad kung ipe-puwera natin sila, Aquino said, So, we’re trying to come up with that system that, siyempre, does away with all of the loopholes na a para makalusot, para siguradong mapunta doon sa talagang pangangailangan ng bawat komunidad," he said.

Lewis said she agrees with the President that pork barrel is good if only it was not misused and that there should be more checks and balance to prevent these pork barrel scams.

"The new congressman Leni Robredo, whom many of us supported, has filed her first bill or second bill and this is transparency of the pork barrel," Nicolas-Lewis said.

Aquino is now calling for tighter monitoring and more stringent measures to prevent the misuse of pork barrels.