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7 party-list solons pledge not to touch 'pork barrel' funds

The so-called Makabayan coalition in the House of Representatives on Tuesday pledged to give up their “pork barrel” in light of the alleged misuse of the discretionary funds by some lawmakers.

“We, the Makabayan Coalition, express our determination to fight for the abolition of the whole pork barrel system and other sources of corruption in all branches of government,” said the group, which is composed of seven party-list representatives, in a statement.

Each member of the House of Representatives gets P70 million in pork barrel, formally known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), to enable them to categorically name priority projects for government funding. Each senator gets P200 million.

Comprising the bloc are Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela, Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis, Terry Ridon of Kabataan, Carlos Zarate and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, and Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

The group said that in addition to not availing of their PDAF, they will continue pushing for its abolition.

“We will not access our own PDAF allocations as we fight for its abolition. We will press for the rechanneling of Congress' and the President's pork barrel to finance the building and operations of more public schools, public hospitals and low-cost houses for the poor instead of privatizing and commercializing these services,” they said.

The Makabayan group also condemned President Benigno Aquino III’s pro-pork barrel stand.

“The Makabayan Coalition, denounces in the strongest terms the pronouncement made by President Benigno S. Aquino III that he is in favor of retaining the pork barrel system,” they said.

Instead, the group called on Aquino to “re-examine his stand and respond immediately to the call of the times by removing the item on PDAF and the President's own pork barrel in the proposed 2014 budget already submitted by Malacañang to Congress.”

The group noted that if Aquino does not move to abolish the PDAF, his administration will not succeed in promoting “Daang Matuwid,” Aquino's campaign slogan that banked on transparency and accountability of every official.

“President Aquino’s pro-pork barrel stand utterly robs his vaunted anti-corruption campaign of any credibility. Daang Matuwid will be exposed as a sham. How can he reconcile Daang Matuwid with the system that has spawned what could prove to be one of the largest, longest-running corruption rackets in our history?” the group said. — Patricia Denise Chiu/KBK, GMA News
Tags: pdaf, porkbarrel