New guidelines for pork release need consultations

August 31, 2013 9:26 am 

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, Aug. 30 (PNA) — House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Friday said they need to draft first new guidelines on how to use pork barrels after President Benigno Aquino 3rd made an earlier pronouncement that he is scrapping Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

"We're still working on it," Belmonte texted House reporters when asked if they have formulated new guidelines on how to use the pork barrel for the second semester.

He said at present the House of Representatives is preoccupied on budget hearings of different departments and lines agencies and they are just giving suggestions and inputs.

The Speaker reminded House members that the message of the President is clear that we need to craft new guidelines that will replace with a transparent mechanism governing the use of congressional allocations.

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. said they have asked their colleagues to submit their proposals based on menus presented by the executive department on what projects is in their minds using the PDAF allocation.

Congressmen used to received P70 million each while every Senators are entitled to P200 million per annum.

"I think there will be massive consultation first, but the Speaker has indicated to us some guidelines, such as no more consumables, no more fertilizers, no more non-government organizations," said Andaya, the former budget secretary and appropriations committee chairman.

He said lawmakers should take cue from the President's statement on which projects should be prioritized.

"The President has been a congressman and he knows the needs of the people. He gave the classic example of a scholar needing to continue his studies, we need to focus on the essentials," he said.

Andaya added that they will invite Budget Sec. Florencio Abad to help and guide them on how they will form the new guidelines in disbursing PDAF which is part of the 2013 General Appropriations Act.

Abad earlier assured lawmakers that the P25.2 billion allocations to PDAF will remain in the budget, but stressed that it is no longer under the "PDAF item."

Lawmakers can still tap on the fund through project proposals that will be coursed through government agencies. However, details of the new mechanism are still being debated. (PNA)

HBC/DSP/SFM

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