Congressmen need pork more: Cayetano
MANILA – Some lawmakers put their pork barrel funds into medical assistance or disaster relief. Some use it to build more buildings and roads.
Some, however, may have funneled their pork barrel funds into fake NGOs.
According to Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, one reason why many people doubt politicians’ use of their priority development assistance funds (PDAF) is because of the discretion given to lawmakers on how to use the money.
Cayetano said the pork barrel funds are given as a lumpsum at the start of the year, which the lawmakers allocate for different projects. Each senator is allocated P200 million in pork barrel funds a year while a member of the House of Representatives gets P70 million.
“You could put it in agriculture or the Department of Public Works and Highways. You can have a project in Laguna or Rizal…” he said.
He also noted that congressmen need the pork barrel funds more than the senators.
“It is needed more by the congressmen to ensure that each district has funds. For senators, we don't need it but it is very useful. For example, in my case most of my funds are in the hospitals and the DSWD. So despite disaster funds and relief funds all over the country, kapag may nangyari kulang pa rin e,” he said.
Cayetano said one way to ensure that the PDAF is used properly is to outline all pork barrel allocations in the national budget at the start of the year instead of itemizing the allocations in the middle of the year.
He said this will enable the public to check where lawmakers spent their pork barrel funds and if the projects were actually implemented. “If it is in the budget, you can already see ito yung sa schools, sa daycare,” he said.
Several lawmakers, including congressmen and senators, have been linked to an alleged scam involving billions of pesos in pork barrel funds.
Cayetano said the scandal has led to a move to remove some Senate committees as well as marching orders for each senator to be more transparent and accountable in the use of the PDAF.
The senator said one way to help uncover alleged anomalies in the use of pork barrel funds is to pass the Freedom of Information bill, which would require government to disclose information previously unavailable to the public.
He also pushed for the passage of the Whistleblowers Act, which would grant more protection to whistleblowers.
Finally, he also proposed giving prosecutors the authority to give protection to potential witnesses.
He cited the case of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who is accused of masterminding the P10 billion pork barrel scam. He said Napoles could be tapped as a witness by government investigators if she is not the brains of the scam.
[email protected], July 29, 2013