MANILA - Senate President Franklin M. Drilon challenged the public to closely monitor Congress when it enacts the 2015 national budget to see to it that the pork barrel system will not be revived.
"We are now being asked as to what would happen to the Senate now that many of its members are being dragged into the controversy. To restore public trust then is to continue the reforms we have been committed to since this issue first broke out last year. Upon my leadership, our very first step had been the abolition of the Senate's Priority Development Assistance Fund, which has been the root of this controversy,” Drilon said in Filipino during a radio interview.
He asked the public to monitor the deliberations closely. “I then call on the public to not only join, but take a supervisory role over the budgetary process for the 2015 [General Appropriations Act]. I am asking our people, especially our youth to join efforts to ensure that PDAF and its exploitable shortcomings would never find its way to our budget next year.”
He himself assured the 2015 national budget would be free of pork barrel funds, vowing he will immediately scrap any item that would bear semblance to the PDAF.
The Senate decided to abolish PDAF last year even before the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.
"Let us take advantage of this atmosphere of transparency implemented by the President to look at the budget and make sure that the pork barrel fund will not be included in the 2015 national budget," he stressed.
Meanwhile, the Senate leader urged the public to discern truth and false information amid the disclosure of several lists of government officials tagged in the scam.
Drilon said he expects that the public's growing interest in the issue would be used to launch misinformation and propaganda aimed at muddling up the issue.
"I advise the public to be more discerning. We need to filter the empty propaganda from the allegations that can indeed be supported by solid proof, because the pork barrel scam issue is very much exploitable," said Drilon.
He said the issue is wrongfully being linked to the 2016 elections, which should not be the case "since the search for the truth behind the pork barrel scam should be free of politics and the quest for justice must be blind to political colors."
"Let us all remember the main question here: Who are the public officials who collaborated with Napoles to misuse the PDAF? They are trying to hide it, but that is the most crucial thing we need to answer," stressed Drilon.
The Senate chief believes that continued public vigilance is vital in ferreting out the truth and in ensuring that justice will be served by punishing those who will be proven to have misused public funds.
"In times like this, the active participation by the people all throughout this process is very critical. I invite everyone especially the youth to keep an eye on the Senate, watch us public officials, listen to our words and probe our actions," he said.