President Aquino states his position on the PDAF in a live broadcast from the palace. Photo by Gil Nartea, Malacañang Photo
* Lawmaker can still propose projects
* PNoy wants tighter control
MANILA (UPDATE 3) - President Aquino is now in favor of abolishing the existing pork barrel system, saying that despite reforms, it continues to be prone to corruption.
“Panahon na po upang i-abolish ang PDAF,” Aquino said in a live televised statement.
“Ngayon, bubuo tayo ng bagong mekanismo upang matugunan ang pangangailangan ng inyong mga mamamayan at sektor–sa paraang tapat, gamit ang tama at makatuwirang proseso, at nang may sapat na mga kalasag laban sa pang-aabuso at katiwalian.”
Aquino made the statement following the release of the Commission on Audit report detailing misuse of the priority development assistance fund from 2007-2009 and allegations that public funds were funneled to bogus NGOs.
PORK BY ANOTHER NAME?
Aquino is instead proposing a system where lawmakers can still propose certain projects for their constituents but this time with several restrictions.
There will 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.
“Sisiguruhin kong bawat mamamayan at sektor ay makakakuha ng patas na bahagi ng pambansang budget para sa serbisyong pangkalusugan, scholarship, proyektong lumilikha ng kabuhayan, at lokal na imprastruktura. Makakapagmungkahi ng proyekto ang inyong mga mambabatas, ngunit kailangan itong idaan sa proseso ng pagbubuo ng budget,” Aquino said.
“Kung maaprubahan, itatalang mga ito bilang mga line item, alinsunod sa mga programa ng Pambansang Pamahalaan. Mapapaloob ito sa batas bilang Pambansang Budget—hihimayin ang bawat linya, bawat piso, bawat proyekto, gaya ng lahat ng iba pang mga programa ng inyong pamahalaan.”
Funds can no longer be funneled through NGOs and certain GOCCs, saying they had been used as instruments for corruption. Aquino wants the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) and its subsidiary, ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC), abolished.
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.
“Bawal na ang mga consumable na soft project tulad ng fertilizers, punla, gamot, medical kits, pustiso, paliga, training materials, at iba pang mga bagay na hindi masusuri kung totoo ngang may kinahihinatnan, o kung nagmumulto at pinagkakakitaan lamang,” Aquino said.
Lawmakers can only propose projects for their respective districts or constituents.
Bid notices and awards for projects should be posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System or PhilGEPS website while details of the projects’ implementation should be posted at the website of the Department of Budget and Management, the respective agencies, and the government’s National Data Portal.
NO RESTRICTIONS IN PROBE
Aquino has ordered the Department of Justice and other executive agencies under the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) to cooperate with one another to speed up the investigation, prosecution, and recovery of ill-gotten wealth of those involved in the pork barrel scam.
“Malinaw ang aking direktiba sa lahat ng ahensya at kawani ng gobyerno: Ibigay ang inyong buong tulong at kooperasyon upang mahanap ang katotohanan, at nang mapanagot ang dapat managot,” he said.
He also vouched for the integrity of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan.
Speaking to reporters, Aquino said there will be no restrictions in the probe, which would go beyond the involvement of Janet Napoles.
“Naalala niyo, ano, para talagang uminit lahat itong isyu dahil kay (Janet Lim) Napoles. Pero inuulit ng DOJ na, base doon sa COA na report, ‘yun ang unang mga leads natin. So mas malawak kaysa doon sa sumasaklaw kay Napoles—at wala namang limitasyon,” he said.
NOT THREATENED BY PROTEST ACTION
Aquino made the statement three days before the planned protest action against the pork. But he said that did not feel threatened by it.
“Bakit tayo kakabahan, dumami ‘yung kakampi natin sa pagsasaayos sa sistema. Maraming salamat sa kanila,” he told reporters.
LUMP SUM FUNDS
Reacting to a call of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile to abolish lump sump funds as well, President Aquino said there are funds that could be difficult to itemize such as the calamity and contingency fund.
“In principle, maganda nga sana ‘yon kaya lang, kunwari calamity fund, ano. Paano mo i-a-itemize at the beginning of the year ‘yung paggagastusan ‘nung calamity fund dahil wala pa ‘yung bagyo, ‘di ba? Wala pa ‘yung lindol, wala kung ano man ‘yung sakuna, ‘di ba?” he said.
“‘Yung contingency fund kaya nga tinawag na contingency dahil hindi… Hindi pwedeng i-program ‘yung pangyayaring ‘yon. ‘Yung pagha-hire natin, for instance, ng teachers—about 30,000 na kakulangan ng DepEd—hindi pa naman matukoy, iha-hire mo pa lang, so hindi mo pwedeng i-itemize ‘yon.”
Aquino is instead pushing for greater transparency in the use of funds.
“Merong, by their very nature, there are certain funds na hindi pwede nating i-itemize. Pero, to a large degree, gusto natin talagang as transparent at madaling maintindihan kung ano ‘yung nilalaan ng budget para ‘pag tiningnan ng mamamayan… may binanggit na kalsada dito, nakita ba niya? May tulay, may eskwelahan, etcetera—klaro kung saan napunta ‘yung bawat piso ng pondo ng bayan.”