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Drilon backtracks on pork abolition

President Benigno S. Aquino III leads the singing of the National Anthem during the ceremonial signing of Republic Act No. 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of the Malaca?n Palace on Wednesday (May 15). The K to 12 program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship. In photo are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Senators Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon and Edgardo Angara, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., and Representatives Rosenda Ann Ocampo and Neptali Gonzales II. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III leads the singing of the National Anthem during the ceremonial signing of Republic Act No. 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of the Malaca?n Palace on Wednesday (May 15). The K to 12 program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship. In photo are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Senators Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon and Edgardo Angara, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., and Representatives Rosenda Ann Ocampo and Neptali Gonzales II. (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) -– Senator Franklin Drilon on Tuesday backtracked on his earlier proposal to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), known as pork barrel, amid new allegations that it is being pocketed by certain lawmakers and individuals.

Drilon earlier said he would seek the abolition of the PDAF following reports of an alleged scam involving fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs) in order to siphon off billions in pork barrel funds.

The senator, however, said he realized that some lawmakers need the funds for projects aimed at helping their respective constituents.

Every fiscal year, a member of the House of Representatives is allotted P70 million in PDAF, while each senator is given P200 million.

“I realized na iyung mga congressmen eh sa distrito nila may proyekto silang ‘di napopondohan kaya more realistically sinasabi ko kung ‘di pwedeng burahin ito, siguro i-limit ang use doon sa mga paggamit na ‘di talaga pwedeng magkaroon ng katiwalian,” Drilon said.

Instead of the abolition of the pork barrel, Drilon proposed that the use of the funds be limited to providing aid for indigent patients and building of schools.

“Sa lahat ng mga kongresista’t senador, may mga constituents na kailangan ang tulong sa pagpapa-ospital. Hindi pa sapat ang Philhealth kaya kung doon natin ilagay sa government hospital,” he said.

“Pangalawa, doon sa infrastructure, para makikita ng taumbayan kung saan talaga gingamit ang pork barrel na ito.”

Drilon said that livelihood projects, such as those involving the agriculture sector, must be left with government line agencies.

Curently, the allocation of the pork barrel is left to the discretion of lawmakers. Drilon said his proposed changes may be achieved when both chambers legislate the national budget.

Drilon, an Aquino administration ally widely expected to become the next Senate President, said it would not be good to conduct a Senate investigation into the alleged scam since it involves some senators.

Meanwhile, Anakpawis party-list group is calling for the abolition of the pork barrel, which has become the subject of controversies of corruption in past administrations.

“Since time immemorial, the pork barrel has been a source of corruption and a funding mechanism for patronage politics from the national to local level. To give justice to all Filipino taxpayers, the pork servings of all lawmakers must be stopped and the pork barrel fund must be totally abolished,” said Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap.

The group said the pork barrel funds must instead be allotted for the national government’s social services including budget for education, mass housing and public health care.

“Transparency will not solve this P10-billion pork barrel ‘scam of the century.’ The pork and its perks must be abolished. All those who masterminded and benefited from this large-scale racketeering must be punished and held accountable for plunder,” Hicap said. (MNS)

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