Militant solon proposes P1 pork barrel for each lawmaker

August 17, 2009 1:54 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Aug. 17 — A militant lawmaker on Monday proposed for P1 allocation for each congressman for its priority development assistance fund (PDAF), commonly called 'pork barrel' fund to ensure that this would not be used for the incoming elections.

Each member of Congress — the House of Representatives and the Senate — were alloted with PDAF to augment the existing meager funds for countryside development. A congressman gets P70 million while a senator receives P200 million under the 2009 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casino, in a regular news conference of the minority, said "the threat of P1 budget has always been used by Congress to get what it wants from an agency. Perhaps it is time congressmen get a taste of their own medicine."

"Let’s allocate P1 for the pork barrel and let the various nominated projects of congressmen undergo line item budgeting and the public scrutiny it deserves," he said.

This proposal of Casino runs counter to an earlier proposal of Sorsogon Rep. Jose Solis to increase the PDAF allocation of each lawmaker by P30 million.

Solis has filed House Bill 1232 which seeks to upgrade the PDAF of both Houses of Congress and adopt it to the present high cost of commodities, especially construction materials.

"The PDAF has remained constant for four years, that is, at P20 million during the period 2003-2006 and thereafter, remained at P30 million for three years between 2007-2009," he noted.

Solis said their so-called Various Infrastructure and Local Projects (VILP) has not fared much better compared to the PDAF.

For the period 2003-2004, he said their VILP was fixed at P50 million but that it plunged to a mere P20 million during the years 2005-2006 and then recovered partially at P40 million in 2006-2009.

"The irregular, anemic and sometimes regressive annual adjustments in the aforesaid congressional funds, which have not taken into account the continuous rise in the prices of labor and construction materials, have correspondingly failed to stem the tide of widespread poverty and check the advance of disillusionment of the people," he said.

Solis said the current global financial crisis necessitates pump-priming responses from the government, which include stimulating the domestic demand to offset the drying-up of the export markets.

"The congressional discretionary fund was conceived precisely to augment the existing meager funds countryside development. These funds have remained to be the most flexible, expeditious and responsive pro-poor instrument for progress in our districts," the solon said.

Casino, however, said increasing lawmakers’ pork barrel allocation increases the risk of government money being spent for the May 2010 elections or use it for personal gain. (PNA)



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