Bong Revilla: PDAF could have helped disaster victims

by Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2013 06:06 PM | Updated as of Nov 21 2013 03:32 AM

MANILA - Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. arrived separately in Ormoc, Leyte today.

Revilla distributed relief goods in Ormoc City.

Marcos, meanwhile, flew into Ormoc after distributing relief goods in Tacloban.

Both senators are embroiled in the pork barrel scam, with whistleblowers claiming that senators had given money to bogus non-government organizations led by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

Revilla regrets the Supreme Court (SC) decision declaring the pork barrel unconstitutional. He said more people in disaster situations could be assisted had the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) been on hand.

"Well kung meron tayong PDAF, mas marami sana tayong matutulungan sa mga naapektuhan ng bagyo. Maidadagdag yan sa calamity fund, sa mga healthcare, maraming matutulungan,” he said.

Revilla would rather not comment on criticisms against the administration's handling of the typhoon aftermath, saying this is not the time for political bickering.

"Ito yung panahon ngayon ng bayanihan, pagtutulungan, dapat i-set aside ang pulitika, alitan. Ang mahalaga ngayon, tayo ay magtulungan para sa bayan, gamutin ang sugat ng puso ng mamamayan. Hindi tayo dapat magturuan. Tumulong na lamang. Walang oposisyon, walang administrasyon ngayon. Ang galaw ng bawat isa'y mahalaga, at yan ang kailangan ng ating mga kababayan,” he said.

PDAF not enough

Marcos said it was a relief that the SC finally decided on the fate of the pork barrel, saying the cloud of doubt it had raised over the senators was making it difficult for them to function.

However, he raised the possibility of utilizing the 2014 pork barrel as calamity funds, since the budget allocation had already been set long before the SC decision.

"Mas mabuti na nga yan, para wala nang gulo-gulo. Mahirap din para sa aming mga public official, pag pinagsususpetsahan ka ng tao, talagang mahirap gawin ang trabaho,” he said.

With the scale of the damage, Marcos still doubts that even the amount would be enough to repair the affected regions.

“Sa dami ng napinsala, kahit makuha lahat ng PDAF at gagamitin sa calamity fund, baka kukulangin pa. Isa pa yon. Kailangan natin talagang makipag-ugnayan sa ating pamahalaan para tanungin kung ano talaga yung kaya nilang gawin para sa reconstruction."