PDAF to be used for calamities
by FFE PH News staff
Before the week ends, the Senate will pass a resolution that will put the rest of the 2013 PDAF allotment towards the Calamity Fund in light of rescue and rehabilitation projects in Bohol and Cebu.
Senate president Franklin Drilon announced that the senators’ unreleased 2013 Priority Development Assistance Fund can be used to increase the Calamity Fund regardless of whether the Supreme Court declares PDAF unconstitutional.
The release of the remaining 2013 PDAF has been halted by the Supreme Court through a temporary restraining order in light of the pork barrel scam.
The senate president said that, as far as he knew, ‘there is nothing wrong both in terms of law and in terms of policy’ on the Senate’s planned resolution.
He added that diverting state funds to rehabilitate churches did not violate the principle of the separation of the Church and State, saying that the funds were aimed towards preserving heritage and cultural sites.
The Loay Church is one of the churches destroyed in the 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Photo source: Reuters
‘In my opinion, public funds can be used for historical sites. What is not allowed is for government money to be spent on an ordinary chapel that has no historical value as proclaimed by the United Nations, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA). You are spending not for religious purposes but for cultural and historical purposes.’
Drilon added that he also plans to push for amendments to the 2014 PDAF allotment, saying he will delete the senate’s share of Php4.8 billion.
Malacañang meanwhile said it is ready to face former Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s calls for a people’s initiative to totally scrap pork barrel, saying ‘In any democracy that is part of our Constitution, they are perfectly free to pursue any means or measure that they feel would push their advocacies forward.’
However, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte stressed that the Office of the President’s lump-sum funds were not the same as the PDAF.
‘The special purpose funds that are under the lump sum, at least under the Executive branch, have specific purposes that are laid down by law and are subject to the normal auditing processes like any other projects that there is in government.’
The deputy spokesman also clarified that the House of Representatives is set to pass a revision of the 2014 national budget where the PDAF allocations have been deleted and have been directly allotted to the implementing agencies.
The draft revision is about to go to Senate, which is also expected to scrap the PDAF allotments.