Solon says it's normal for politician to help develop home town

January 7, 2010 11:02 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Jan. 7 — An administration lawmaker on Thursday said there's nothing wrong with politicians helping improve and develop their home provinces.

"Let's not wonder if a politician helps the area where he came from if he could do it," said Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez at the weekly Serye forum held in Quezon City.

Suarez was reacting to a statement issued by Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros, who is reported to be running for senator in the May elections, that some P459 million had been spent by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the construction of roads, drainage canals and municipal buildings in her home district in Pampanga, where she (Arroyo) will be running as congresswoman.

She claimed that the amount was nine times the allocation granted to each of the members of the House of Representatives for their annual infrastructure projects.

Suarez, however, said it was only natural for a President to take care of his/her home province just like what then President Ferdinand Marcos did to his home province Ilocos Norte.

"Ang paglalaan ng pondo ng Pangulo para sa Pampanga ay pasasalamat at pagtanaw ng utang na loob sa mga tao. Ganito rin ang ginawa ng ibang pangulo katulad ni dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos sa Ilocos Norte (Allocating funds for the province of Pampanga is President Arroyo's way of thanking her cabalens. This gesture was also done in previous administrations just like what then former President Ferdinand Marcos did in Ilocos Norte)," he said.

Besides, Suarez said, some of the projects in Pampanga were to improve or repair national roads, which is something that the government is required to do.

Lawmakers who are also able to get more funding for their districts on top of their yearly pork barrel allocations work hard for it, he said.

Suarez said getting more funding takes a lot of meetings, studies and convincing of bureaucratic officials of the necessity of a certain project.

On the other hand, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, son of the President, said the controversy on the various projects that the second district of Pampanga received were just a "political ploy" to gain publicity.

"What’s wrong with the President addressing the needs of her cabalens? PGMA (President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) surely does not want to go down in history as a President who failed the aspirations… of her townmates. How can you be a good president if you cannot take care of the needs of even your own district?" the young Arroyo said in a statement.

He noted that the projects were initiated long before President Arroyo decided to run for Congress, which is why they could not be considered electioneering.

"If Rep. Hontiveros sees something wrong with the manner PGMA spent her pork barrel, or other lawmakers used ours (pork barrel), then she (Hontiveros) better tell that to the constituents of the second district and to our constituents as well," he added.

Besides, the young Arroyo said that the President spread the blessings not only in Pampanga but to other provinces as well since she had "an infinity of infrastructure projects" all over the country.

He then accused Hontiveros of making noise over the matter in order to push her own bid to become a senator. (PNA)

DCT/LGI

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