MANILA - No less than the officials in government admitted to using the already declared unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2014 budget, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said.
In an interview with ANC, Tinio believes that the fourth impeachment complaint that will be filed against President Benigno Aquino III today will pass muster since “there is an administration policy of perpetuating the PDAF secretly while claiming publicly that they have abolished it.”
He said the original P20 billion yearly PDAF was “broken up and inserted in the budgets of six agencies,” including the departments of Labor and Health, and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
“There is nothing wrong yet at that point, but there is an understanding between Malacanang, the heads of agencies, and Congress that they will have individual allocations from these lumpsums,” he explained.
He alleged P4.1 billion was given to CHED, but the lawmakers have the discretion on how this will be spent.
In one of the hearings at the lower House, CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan herself acknowledged that using the lump sums was illegal but that the agency had to use it.
Health Undersecretary Janette Garin was also quoted as saying: “It was made clear to us that these funds are not DOH funds but are actually funds of congressmen who are there to assist their constituents.”
Garin, who was at a hearing that time, was referring to the P3.1 billion allocation to the DOH, Tinio said.
“The problem here is that basic services become politicized,” he noted.
He said it was already clear in the Supreme Court decision that the PDAF is illegal.
While their evidence consist mostly of statements from the government officials, Tinio noted that “if you go back to the SC decision, they said this is what exactly could happen. These are informal practices that perpetuate congressional pork.”