Lacierda: All of PNoy's pork audited

by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 26 2013 10:42 PM | Updated as of Aug 27 2013 07:07 PM

MANILA - All funds of President Benigno Aquino are audited, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Monday.

Lacierda, in an interview with ANC Prime Time, said people can go to the Commission on Audit's (COA) website to see the data.

"There's nothing we are hiding," he said, amid public outrage over pork barrel funds of government officials.

Former National Treasurer Leonor Briones earlier claimed that the President has around P1 trillion worth of lump-sum funds that can only be released upon Aquino's approval.

Briones said Aquino's discretionary funds, including around P310 billion in special purpose funds and P139 billion in unprogrammed funds, are the Palace's version of congressional pork barrel.

Lacierda, however, denied this, saying it's not true that Aquino has around P1 trillion at his personal disposal.

He said the Palace understands the public sentiment on the pork barrel amid the scandal over alleged misuse of P10 billion from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) alloted to lawmakers.

"We share the same outrage on the misuse, abuse of PDAF. But there are legitimate needs of people regardless of district," he said.

Lacierda said Aquino's discretionary funds include contingency and calamity allocations that are used during disasters such as the annual destructive typhoons that hit the country.

He reiterated Aquino's earlier statement that legislators will no longer have lump-sum PDAF by 2014.

"It will be line-itemed in the 2014 budget. The reform mechanism will be place in 2014. You will see it there. You will no longer see PDAF. Projects will now be line-itemized and listed by implementing agencies," he said.

According to Lacierda, the government is now moving from lump-sum, or allocating whole amounts of money to legislators, to line-item budgeting, which means projects must be identified first before funds will be approved.

"Dadaan sa proseso iyan, which is why we need participatory governance," he said.

Asked if the proposed Freedom of Information (FOI) bill can curb corruption, Lacierda said the Aquino administration is already being transparent.

"We're already doing it even without any statutory requirement," he said, even as he acknowledged the Constitutional requirement on public access to information.

"Wala pang FOI ngayon, pero kailangan natin ang tulong ng mamamayan habang wala pang batas," he said.

"FOI is not necessarily the silver bullet," Lacierda said.

He added that with 3 more years remaining under the Aquino administration, the government needs to institutionalize easier access to information.

"We're looking for a solution. We should move toward the solution process or phase," he said.

Lacierda said the "Million People March" event on Monday means Aquino has more supporters behind his campaign against corruption.

"Narinig na namin iyung galit. Nasaan ang solution? Mag-recommend kayo. That's part of participatory governance," he said.