MANILA – The Malacañang Palace asserted that there was no multi-billion ‘pork barrel’ in the proposed 2016 national budget, which several lawyers and lawmakers suspected may be used as funds for next year’s national elections.
“The Supreme Court decision on the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) is guidance for all in government,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a Philippine Star report.
“The Aquino administration is firmly committed to open, transparent and accountable governance, especially in terms of judicious allocation and proper disbursement of public funds,” Presidential Communications Operations Office secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also said in the same report.
It can be recalled that the High Court earlier ruled the PDAF was unconstitutional. Prior the resolution, lawmakers had their own allotment of the PDAF which were supposed to be intended for programs and projects aimed at alleviating poverty in the Philippines.
Several senators, however, allegedly abused their share of the PDAF and funded pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles’ bogus foundations and nongovernment organizations’ ghost projects in exchange for commissions.
With the 2016 national budget, former senator and possible presidential candidate Panfilo “Ping” Lacson believed that there were still ‘congressional insertions’ of about P500 billion.
Several lawmakers confirmed Lacson’s suspicion as they pointed out the ‘lump sum special purpose funds’ allotted to government agencies.
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares claimed that there were about P145 billion pork barrel funds in the national budget which may again be abused.
Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco, on the other hand, claimed that there were at least P580 billion insertions in the budget which may be used by the ruling Liberal Party (LP) as their funds for the coming general elections.
Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, for his part, reiterated that there were no lump sums in the proposed 2016 national budget.
“That’s the problem when you shoot from the mouth, you expose your ignorance. But that’s Tiangco – predictably preposterous,” Abad said.
With Lacson, however, Abad urged the former senator to meet with them so they could clarify his issues regarding the 2016 national budget.
“We also urge Mr. Lacson to reach out to the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) if he has any misgivings about the budget, so we can prevent the misinterpretation of the budget data,” he added.