MANILA (Mabuhay) – Aside from Escudero and Senate President Franklin Drilon who both filed respective bills calling for the abolition of the PDAF, others who have formally indicated letting go of their pork barrel funds are Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Grace Poe.
Poe, in a letter dated November 7, advised Escudero “to effect the deletion of the entire aggregate amount of P200 million of proposed/programmed allocation for my office under the PDAF and the consequent deduction of the same from the total budget to be submitted for final approval by the Senate of the Philippines.”
On the other hand, in a letter dated November 5, Pimentel told Escudero that he is not interested in availing of the PDAF allocated for him for 2014.
“For this reason, I respectfully request that the amount of P200 million allocated as my PDAF be removed from the 2014 budget,” Pimentel said.
In a press statement, Escudero said eight senators, including himself, Drilon, Poe and Pimentel, “have already taken positions about their PDAF.”
Escudero’s office, however, refused to disclose the identities of the four other senators and their respective positions on the 2014 PDAF allocation until the November 11 deadline for all senators to submit their positions on PDAF.
“During the caucus I told my colleagues that if they don’t submit their position, I will retain their PDAF allocation in the original proposal of Congress which is to realign the PDAF into the lump sum items for four government agencies. These are the DOE, DSWD, DOLE and CHED,” Escudero said.
He added since there is no singular position in the Senate on the disbursement of the PDAF, the individual positions of the senators will come out as an amendment to the House version as approved on third reading.
Escudero earlier called for the total abolition of the PDAF through Senate Resolution No. 193. He said Congress should limit itself to the enactment of the national budget but added that he cannot decide for his colleagues on this matter.
“Abolition to me is totally removing or subtracting the allocation from the national budget. That is why I filed a resolution to get the senate sense in scrapping the PDAF. But during the caucus we had before we went on a break, there was an agreement to leave the senators to their individual decisions regarding what to do with their PDAF,” he said.
No agreement reached
Earlier, Drilon said that while there appears to be “no resistance” in the scrapping of the PDAF during the caucus, no agreement was reached on what to do with pork barrel funds
He said some senators wanted the PDAF completely deleted in the 2014 budget, while others proposed it to be converted to calamity funds.
In October, the Senate approved a resolution urging President Aquino to realign the remaining pork barrel fund of senators for 2013 and release it as calamity fund to help victims of recent natural and man-made disasters.
The PDAF has triggered widespread public debate since the National Bureau of Investigation started its probe on an the alleged scam involving controversial businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Napoles allegedly funneled pork barrel funds to bogus non-government organizations with the help of lawmakers and heads of implementing agencies, all of whom supposedly got kickbacks from the scheme.
In September, plunder and other criminal complaints were filed against a number of personalities, among them Napoles, Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr. for their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam. (MNS)