Palace clears senators who realigned pork

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 09 2014 06:48 PM | Updated as of Jan 10 2014 02:48 AM

Says funds won't be impounded

MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday cleared the senators who reportedly realigned P1.8 billion in pork barrel to other projects and the calamity fund.

Quoting Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the funds concerned would not be impounded but that the implementing agencies would only need to have a special budget request for the funds to be released.

The President has already signed into the law the 2014 budget.

"Hiningi ko ang tugon ni Secretary Abad tungkol doon at sinabi niya ‘Hindi ako gumawa ng kahit anong pahayag na ang halagang iyon ay pipigilin.’ He said: ‘I never made any statement that the appropriation will be withheld,’ Coloma said.

“Ang sinabi lang niya na ayon sa patakaran dahil iyong appropriation na iyon ay amendment doon sa isinumite ng executive. It was an amendment introduced during the process of Senate deliberations. By procedure, hindi ako covered nung overall principle na budget as release document, which governs about 90 percent of the budget. The governing principle here is that the amount… will not be automatically released as it will require a special budget request.

"Ibig sabihin, may patakaran na kapag ang tinutukoy ay isang item na resulta ng isang pagamiyenda doon sa naunang panukalang batas, ang tamang patakaran na susundin sa halip na automatic release na covered nung budget as release document, ang papairalin ay kailangan pa magkaroon ng special budget request para doon."

How they realigned their PDAF

A total of nine senators realigned their P200 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for 2014, after the Supreme Court declared the discretionary funds as unconstitutional, Inquirer reported on Thursday.

Five of the senators - Ralph Recto, Miriam Defensor Santiago, JV Ejercito and siblings Allan Peter and Pia Cayetano - realigned their entire P200 million PDAF to the government calamity fund.

Sen. Lito Lapid realigned P193 million of his PDAF to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), another P5 million to the Department of Health (DOH) and P2 million to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Sen. Bong Revilla realigned P84.5 million to the DPWH, P75 million to DOH and P35 million to state universities and colleges.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes gave his PDAF to six agencies including DOH (P102.45 million), Commission on Higher Education (P36.2 million), Philippine Army (P27.95 million), Philippine Navy (P22 million), Philippine National Police (P7.4 million) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (P4 million).

On the other hand, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada realigned his P200 million to the city of Manila (P100 million), City of Caloocan (P50 million) and Municipality of Lal-lo in Cagayan province (P50 million).

Estrada's father, former President Joseph Estrada, is the mayor of Manila.

Coloma said that as far the executive is concerned, the realignment does not violate the recent Supreme Court decision declaring the pork barrel as unconstitutional.

“Siyempre po ang lahat ng aksyon ng executive ay kinakailangang naaayon sa batas at ang batas po kasama na rin doon iyong mga naging desisyon ng Korte Suprema because the decision of the Supreme Court become part of the law of the land,” Coloma said. -- With a report from The Philippine Star