Jul 302013
If Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza could have his way, “pork barrel” implementation for the third quarter of the year should be suspended pending the investigation on the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds, or formally known as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Instead, legislators should focus on their job, which is crafting laws, Atienza said in a statement Tuesday.

“We recommend that we suspend the implementation of the PDAF,” Atienza said. “(Instead we should) buckle down to our real work of legislation.”

“We are all honorable men and have been elected to legislate, get the country moving towards economic growth and not get involved with the delivery of basic services that could be best done by local government units,” the former Manila mayor said.

He said P200 billion in PDAF could have easily built 10 million homes for the poor and one million classrooms, and provide facilities like CT scan, dialysis and MRI equipment to public hospitals.

“But when we look back at how this money has been utilized, all we see are waiting sheds, basketball courts, covered courts and now the scandalous allegations of giving money to non-existent NGOs,” Atienza said.

House members get P70 million in PDAF every year while senators has an allocation of P200 million.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales has yet to give a comment on Atienza’s proposal.

In a text message to GMA News Online, Budget Secretary Butch Abad said they will implement it if the Congress adopts it.

“If Congress adopts the recommendation, we will implement the suspension. An we will propose measures to minimize abuse and leakages in the use of PDAF,” he said.

Line-item budgeting

On the other hand, the independent bloc in the House has called for line-item budgeting in the 2014 P2.268-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) in order to ensure a more transparent disbursement of funds.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the head of the independent bloc and president of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), said line item budgeting, though it entails a long process, is more transparent as it will basically list or identify all the items to be funded by PDAF and other projects of different government agencies.

“We will advocate for line item budgeting. This is a more transparent system. It will be very easy for everyone here and the public to follow and know the details of the programs,” Romualdez said at a press conference.

“It is important for us to know from the very beginning where public funds will be going,” he added.

Atienza agreed with Romualdez that line item budgeting will help promote transparency and boost further the government’s campaign for good governance.

“Walang masama na bumalik tayo sa tamang sistema where all items to be spent for by the government are specifically defined in the budget. That is the way to solve the problem on PDAF,” he said at the same press conference.  — KBK, GMA News

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