Magsaysay says new PDAF rules too strict

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 10 2012 05:20 PM | Updated as of Apr 11 2012 07:07 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay believes the Aquino administration is starting to doubt its own allies when it tightened the releases of priority development assistance funds (PDAF).

The opposition lawmaker said it is strange that the administration doubts that its allies will spend the PDAF wisely and transparently.

She said the menu for PDAF releases issued by the administration is very strict, making it almost impossible for PDAF to be disbursed.

Under the new budget department guidelines, lawmakers must follow a priority list or standard design prepared by implementing agencies for their projects. The new guidelines cover construction, housing, electrification, health and education projects.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad earlier said the budget department is tightening the release of pork barrel funds to senators and congressmen to prevent its misuse in the run-up to the 2013 elections.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the objective of putting restrictions on the release of the PDAF is to ensure transparency. 

“To my knowledge, we have given [PDAF] to most of the congressmen. It’s more to ensure that the funds are properly used,” Lacierda said.

Magsaysay said Abad's statement may be a warning to its allies that the PDAF won’t be released unless they toe the administration's line. The statement came amid the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona and the realignment of forces for the 2013 senatorial elections.

‘Just sue us’

The opposition lawmaker, meanwhile, said the administration is treating its own allies like kids.

She said Malacañang should just file cases if they find abuses of the PDAF.

The lawmaker also said there is life even without pork barrel funds. The Palace earlier said it released Magsaysay's PDAF to local officials in Zambales.

Magsaysay said having no PDAF only made her work harder to get funding for her district from private sources.

Magsaysay is one of those supposedly in the shortlist for the senatorial ticket of Vice President Jejomar Binay's United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Others reportedly in the list according to an ABS-CBN source are re-electionists Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero and Aquilino Pimentel III.

Other names reportedly being considered are Juan Miguel Zubiri, Jack Enrile, Joey de Venecia, Gregorio Honasan,  Ernesto Maceda, JV Ejercito, Richard Gordon, Lani Mercado, Nancy Binay, Alan Cayetano and Cynthia Villar.

Magsaysay may be adopted by UNA as she remains a member of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Lakas Kampi CMD.