New system for existing pork will be more transparent: Abad

by Kathlyn dela Cruz,

Posted at Aug 23 2013 04:03 PM | Updated as of Aug 24 2013 08:40 AM

MANILA -- Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Butch Abad assures that the new system being proposed by President Benigno Aquino III in place of the existing pork barrel system will be more stringent and transparent.

Aquino on Friday said he is in favor of abolishing the pork barrel system, saying that despite reforms, it continues to be prone to corruption.

He instead proposed a system where lawmakers can still propose certain projects for their constituents but these will be subject to several restrictions.

In an interview with ANC's "News Now," Abad said that with the new system, there will now be a better way of holding those implementing the projects accountable.
"The identification and allocation of funds by, for example, a congressman will now go to the budget process. They will propose, earmark. That will have to be approved by the House and that will have to be clearly spelled out in detail unlike before in the PDAF, it's a big lump sum and you don't know really from the very start where that lump sum is going to go," Abad said.

There will now be a menu that proposed projects should conform with, and allocation for the approved projects will now appear in the national budget or the General Appropriations Act as line item, starting in 2014.

Health services, scholarships, and livelihood projects are among projects that may still be allowed.

"As the President said, we cannot ignore the fact that certain districts and sectors have basic needs to which they have to respond. And so he made out the rules on how we can go about it," Abad said.

"For example there are existing scholarship programs. It doesn't mean that because you abolish the pork, you will no longer fund those scholarships... They must continue under a new system of identifying and allocating funds for those types of projects," he continued.

Abad also noted that the President acknowledges the fact that a lot of projects in the regions and provinces have been relying on the lawmakers' pork barrel.

But he said funds being allocated to certain types of projects have been "vulnerable to leakages and abuse."

"The real purpose of the PDAF is really to fill in the gaps where the national government actually cannot give certain needs of certain districts or regions, especially the poor and the remote ones."

"But we have to put some limitations as to what can qualify for projects that can be funded by the budget because on certain types of projects, they have been vulnerable to leakages and abuse," Abad said.

Aquino had said funds can no longer be funneled through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and certain government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), saying they had been used as instruments for corruption.

Consumable soft projects such as fertilizers and medicines will no longer be allowed, as well as short-term infrastructure projects such as dredging, desilting, regravelling, or asphalt overlay projects.

Meanwhile, Abad thumbed down calls of some senators to also abolish the President's Special Purpose Funds (SPF).

"One SPF is the calamity fund. You cannot determine ahead of time how you're going to use calamity fund... It may be enough or it may not be enough," he said. -- With report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News