The House of Representatives on Monday began plenary deliberations of the proposed P2.268-T national budget for 2014, with a focus on the integration of the former Priority Development Assistance Fund into several agencies’ budgets.
In his sponsorship speech, chairman of the Appropriations Committee Rep. Isidro Ungab said they did not recommend any cuts on the proposed budget. Ungab then formally announced on the floor that the committee has proposed to scrap the PDAF as a lump sum allocation.
“Following the call for greater transparency and accountability in the operations of our government, the committee with the approval of the House leadership recommends the scrapping of the lump sum appropriation of P 25.24 B for PDAF,” Ungab said.
Ungab also noted that Vice President Binay’s special allocation of P200 M will also be removed.
“In addition, the amount of P200 M representing the PDAF of the Office of the Vice President will also be deleted,” he said.
Ungab earlier told reporters that the P25.4 B amount will be realigned to different social service agencies, where lawmakers could make requests on behalf of their constituents.
Ungab, however, made it clear that the requests were not done deals, and that agencies have a right to refuse them. He then enjoined members of the House to pass the General Appropriations Bill or House Bill 2360 quickly.
Bigger budget for VIsayas, Mindanao
Meanwhile in an early interpolation, Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora questioned the significantly lower budgets of Visayas and Mindanao as compared to that of Luzon, which is the most developed of the three island-groups.
“Shouldn’t we be spending in an affirmative action, so tragedies like Zamboanga will not happen? I have seen how growth in my own district and the whole of Metro Manila has exceeded in some respects that of Visayas and Mindanao [and yet Luzon has a bigger budget,]” Zamora said.
Zamora called on Ungab, himself a representative from Davao City, to pour more money into the Visayas and Mindanao.
“Let’s spend money on poorer regions, so that we have inclusive growth,” he said.