'Guni-guni': Alvarez denies pork barrel is back

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 05 2016 02:09 PM | Updated as of Jul 05 2016 05:14 PM

MANILA - Incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday denied that the invalidated pork barrel system is back under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Alvarez, the choice of Duterte for House Speaker, dismissed reports that neophyte lawmakers were asked to submit P80 million worth of projects for itemization in the 2017 budget.

In a text message, Alvarez said, "That is purely 'guni-guni.'"

He also assured that the Duterte administration will uphold the Supreme Court (SC) ruling in 2014 which declared the unconstitutionality of the lump sum funds.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno has yet to comment on the report.

Under the pork barrel system -- officially known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) -- senators were previously entitled to P200 million each a year and congressmen to P70 million.

The Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a related budgeting scheme, was implemented during the Aquino administration.

A report from the Commission on Audit, however, uncovered irregularities in pork barrel spending and led to the constitutional challenge at the SC.

After the SC declared PDAF and key provisions of the DAP unconstitutional, funds were downloaded directly to congressional districts. Lawmakers were also banned from earmarking projects for funding once the annual budget is approved.