MANILA, Philippines – The country’s business groups welcomed President Aquino’s move to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and called on the Congress to start adopting new measures in next year’s budget.
Business groups such as Alyansa Agrikultura, Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Institute of Corporate Directors, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, People Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. said in a joint statement that reforms in the PDAF need to be put in place as the fund which is supposed to complement national has been tainted with corruption.
“In this light, we commend the Aquino administration for taking a bold stance towards greater accountability and transparency. The business community fully supports the abolition of the PDAF, as well as the subsequent establishment of the new mechanism proposed by P-Noy that will address the needs of various localities and sectors,” the groups said.
The groups said measures to limit discretion and to open the entire process of allocating development assistance to public scrutiny would lead to a more judicious and transparent management of public funds.
The groups likewise called on the Congress to implement the reforms.
“We, therefore, urge the respective members of both chambers to adopt the new measures into the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and beyond,” the groups said.
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Aquino on Friday ordered the abolition of the PDAF, a lump sum item in the annual GAA which gives House members P70 million each and senators P200 million.
The President said the government would put in place a new mechanism that will not be susceptible to abuse or corruption. He made the announcement ahead of a planned rally against the pork barrel tomorrow.
Several groups have called for the abolition of the PDAF amid concerns over the pork barrel scam implicating a number of senators and congressmen and supposedly operated by Janet Lim-Napoles.
The business groups said they support the joint investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Audit on the matter.
“It is our hope that those found to have been involved in this scandal, whether private individuals or public figures, regardless of political affiliation, be prosecuted and convicted to the law’s fullest extent,” they said.
The groups also renewed their call for the swift passage of the Freedom of Information Bill.