Aug 192013
Amid reports of a pork barrel scam that allegedly pillaged billions of pesos worth of public funds through bogus non-government organizations, President Benigno Aquino III said that the release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has been put on hold pending the completion of an investigation into the scam.

“Ang statement ni Secretary [of Department of Budget and Management Florencio] Abad, walang ni-release [na PDAF] for the second half,” said Aquino in an exclusive interview with GMA News’ Maki Pulido, aired over “24 Oras”.

“Tapusin muna ang inbestigasyon,” added Aquino, “And check kung meron pa ngang loopholes na dapat maisara.”

One way government will determine whether there are loopholes is through “performance-based” indicators.

“Simpleng bagay lang: may paglalaanan? Ano ang resulta,” the President explained. “Yung budget release nila (mga mambabtas) are based on their performance.”

He added that there should also be a “time limit” on the implementation of the project allotted with state funds. If the funds are still unused within a certain amount of time, it would be returned to the government savings.

“And savings will realign to those departments that are ready to utilize the said funds,” Aquino said.


Meantime, Aquino argued that the pork barrel should not be abolished, even with allegations that it was misused by lawmakers.

He maintained that the PDAF does do some good. “Huwag naman madamay ‘yung mahusay at matino ‘dun sa taong mapagsamantala. ‘Yang PDAF, lalo na sa hard aspect, nakakatulong matugon ng mas mabilis ‘yung pangangailangan ng komunidad,” he said.

The latest Commission on Audit report said 74 lawmakers, including incumbent congressmen currently aligned with President Aquino, received excessive amounts of pork barrel monies from 2007 to 2009.

The report also said some P6.156-billion pork barrel from close to 200 lawmakers went to 82 mostly dubious NGOs from 2007 to 2009, including 10 linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Faulty encoding

The President also clarified some points that the latest COA report raised.

According to COA, P3 billion worth of pork went to then Davao del Norte Rep. Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora, a lawmaker known for regularly commuting to the Batasan Pambansa using his bike.

“‘Yung P3 billion was allotted to one congressman. Ang sagot ni Sec. Abad, they checked, kung tama pagkakatanda ko, parang nagkaroon ng maling encoding, dalawang SARO ang na-issue,” Aquino explained.

“‘Yung project naman na P3 billion as for the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) for projects niya within the region, and this was before our time.”

In a separate “24 Oras” report, Zamora strongly denied receiving the excess pork, saying he would be willing to go to jail if the allegations were proven.

GMA News Online tried contacting Abad who has yet to respond.

Another point raised by the COA was the pork allocation to a virtually non-existent congressman named “Luis Abalos,” who received a P20 million.

Aquino said that it was a typo in the first name of the congressman with the last name “Abalos.”

“‘Yung pangalan ng isang tao na hindi miyembro ng Kongreso, ang sabi sa atin, miyembro ng Kongreso, mali lang ang nilagay na first name,” he said.

The COA report may be refering to former Mandaluyong City’s lone district representative and now the city’s mayor Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr.

But according to the House of Representatives website, Abalos served as congressman from 2004 to 2007; the COA report covered only pork allocations from 2007 to 2009, a time when Abalos served as Mandaluyong city mayor. — DVM, GMA News

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