MANILA – Abolishing the pork barrel will not only help curb corruption, it also has the potential to change how Filipino voters choose their leaders, journalist and former congressman Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr. said on Friday.
Locsin said that without any pork barrel, lawmakers can direct all their efforts to writing and passing laws, which in turn may change the mindset of voters.
“Taking [the funds] out of their hands may finally spread the word to the people that, ‘Aren’t these the guys that we’re supposed to elect for being smart and not for being generous?’” Locsin told ANC’s “Top Story.”
The current Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) system allocates annual funds of P200 million to senators and P70 million to congressmen for hard (e.g infrastructure) and soft (e.g. health, scholarships) projects.
Locsin expressed support for the abolition of the system, which he said has also caused “bitterness” among lawmakers who do not receive as much as the others.
“It also creates a lot of bitterness among congressmen because a handful of people who know how to get more, really get a significant amount as compared to those who basically like to show off their intellectual skills like Ronnie Zamora and me, and that’s why people laughed at us in Congress,” he said.
President Benigno Aquino on Friday said he is in favor of abolishing the existing “pork barrel” system and proposed a system where lawmakers can still propose certain projects for their constituents but this time with several restrictions.
But for Locsin, any other form of rehashed “pork” system will still be vulnerable to corruption.
The funds, Locsin suggested, should stay in the hands of the President because he will be an easier target for accountability rather than lawmakers.
“Now, all the money will be recognized for exactly what it has always been since [former President] Cory [Aquino], who never used it. Now we know the money is in his pocket, what’s he doing with it? It’s not with the congressmen,” Locsin said.
“At least you’re only looking at one direction: him and his friends. And that’s a great help,” he added.
Several senators have also expressed support for the abolition of PDAF amid public outrage over the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam.
An anti-pork barrel protest by citizens and several civil society groups is set on Monday, August 26 at Rizal Park.