More senators now calling for pork abolition

by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2013 06:22 PM | Updated as of Aug 23 2013 02:22 AM

MANILA - In the face of growing public outrage, more senators are also now calling for the abolition of the pork barrel.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Francis Escudero filed separate resolutions seeking to abolish lawmakers' pork barrel or the priority development assistance fund (PDAF).

This came weeks after Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago's filing of a resolution calling for the gradual phasing out of the PDAF.

Cayetano personally filed two resolutions on Thursday afternoon: one seeking to abolish the pork barrel system, and the other, to appoint former Sen. Panfilo Lacson as special investigator in the PDAF probe.

"I want to take personal responsibility and make this really a crusade. I think the time is now. I think there's a real good chance na ma-abolish talaga ang pork barrel," he said.

"All the senators and congressmen are feeling the people's clamor na i-abolish 'to," Cayetano added.

In Senate Concurrent Resolution 196, Cayetano cited the P10-billion pork barrel scam and a Commission on Audit report showing that more than P6 billion in PDAF went to questionable nongovernment organizations.

"The continued presence of the PDAF in the National Budget is viewed by the public as an unwillingness of the legislature to address the many abuses and instances of corruption in the system and an unwillingness to heed the voice of the Filipino people for dramatic change," the resolution states.

If it is approved by both houses of Congress, Cayetano's concurrent resolution would have the effect of a law. He said this would guarantee that the PDAF will cease to exist in the 2014 national budget.

Escudero, meanwhile, filed Senate Resolution 193 also to call for the scrapping of the pork barrel system.

"The pork barrel, despite its statutory laudable purpose, has been misconceived as a form of 'horse-trading' and a major source of corruption in government, and such misconception is apparently starting to become real in the light of the PDAF multi-billion scam," he said in the resolution.

Escudero chairs the Senate finance committee, which will scrutinize the proposed national budget for the next year.

A number of senators have also expressed their support for calls to abolish the PDAF.

In a statement, Sen. JV Ejercito said, "I can manage to perform my duties without the pork barrel."

Sen. Sonny Angara, for his part, said there are only two options for him when it comes to the pork barrel issue.

"First is the abolition of senators' pork as proposed by Sen. Miriam. Second is reform which would no doubt involve drastically improving safeguards against corruption," he said in a statement.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, who will lead an investigation next week on the alleged misuse of the PDAF, believes lawmakers can still perform their jobs without pork.

"Remember always that senators are supposed to be lawmakers, and therefore ang pangunahing layunin namin, gumawa ng batas," he said in an interview.

Early this week, senators belonging to the Senate's majority group announced that they will suspend their use of the PDAF until stricter measures for it are adopted.

A resolution to this effect will be filed in the Senate's next session, according to Senate President Franklin Drilon.