No questions on PNoy's 'pork,' special funds in Senate budget hearing
The Senate finance committee did not quiz Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. on these issues. Instead, it approved the OP's P2.82-billion budget in a matter of minutes.
In an interview after the hearing, Senator Francis Escudero, an administration ally who heads the finance panel, said the OP funds were easily greenlighted out of "courtesy" to the executive.
"Wala namang issue sa OP. By tradition we give courtesy to the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President," Escudero said.
He added that special purpose funds, including calamity and contingency funds, will be further scrutinized in another Senate hearing, which will be attended by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
Escudero also clarified that the President's Social Fund (PSF) was not tackled since it is not included in the national budget, and is just sourced from the income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Members of the progressive Makabayan bloc earlier called for the abolition of the PSF, saying it only provides "a form of institutionalized patronage and graft and corruption."
Last month, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the PSF will stay despite the President's call to abolish the lawmakers' pork barrel funds, formally known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund.
Abad has earlier defended Aquino's use of the PSF, saying the President has been "prudent" in utilizing these funds. — Andreo C. Calonzo/KBK, GMA News