MANILA - An administration lawmaker is now pressing the executive to take over the needs of constituents displaced by the abolition of the 'pork barrel' or Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) of lawmakers.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. asked the Departments of Health, Labor and Social Welfare, and the Commission on Higher Education to issue guidelines and mechanisms on how the public can now avail of medical assistance, scholarship, burial and skills training provided for under the PDAF system, which the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional.
"Until now, there are no clear rules and regulations, and our constituents are inquiring. Part of the SC ruling is for the Executive to find solutions to ensure that the services offered by the lawmakers' PDAF will continue," he said.
"May kasabihan tayo: Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo? Until now, we don't know what to tell our constituents because there are no guidelines on how they can avail of these services," he said.
Barzaga noted that at least 248,072 scholars from 73 legislative districts were affected by the SC's decision to stop the release of the remaining P14.27 billion PDAF for the second half of 2013. Congress realigned this amount as a supplemental budget for the relief and rehabilitation of disaster stricken areas in central and south Philippines.
Congress deleted the P25.2 billion PDAF lump sum in the 2014 budget and realigned close to P10 billion of the amount to local infrastructure projects itemized under the DPWH, while the other above mentioned agencies got the remainder as lump sums with the view that the agencies will take over the availment of the benefits of the constituents. House leaders have said the lawmakers reserve the right to recommend beneficiaries to the agencies.
The deletion of the PDAF came about because of the pork barrel scam expose against Janet Lim Napoles and some lawmakers.