Amid criticisms against Malacañang over two extravagant dinners in the United States, an administration congressman is pushing for an increase in lawmakers’ pork barrel funds.
Rep. Jose Solis of Sorsogon province filed House Bill 1232 seeking an upgrade of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), citing high costs of commodities, particularly construction materials.
“The PDAF has remained constant for four years, that is, at P20 million during the period 2003-2006 and thereafter, remained at P30 million for three years between 2007-2009,” Solis said in an article on the House of Representatives website.
Solis, 69, is a member of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) party. Kampi has since merged with Lakas-CMD.
Solis also pointed out that their so-called Various Infrastructure and Local Projects (VILP) has not fared much better compared to the PDAF.
He said that from 2003-2004, their VILP was fixed at P50 million but it plunged to a mere P20 million in 2005-2006 and recovered partially at P40 million in 2006-2009.
“The irregular, anemic and sometimes regressive annual adjustments in the aforesaid congressional funds, which have not taken into account the continuous rise in the prices of labor and construction materials, have correspondingly failed to stem the tide of widespread poverty and check the advance of disillusionment of the people,” Solis said.
He also noted the almost zero or even negative growth of the economy brought about by the global financial crisis.
The pork barrel allocation had been denounced even by some senators, notably Panfilo Lacson, who claimed it was being misused by a lot of legislators and by recipients.
Lacson himself had filed graft charges against some officials in Cavite for allegedly misusing his PDAF in the past.
Some justify its existence as a “necessary evil” or an “equalizer” especially to provinces or districts who are always left behind in the allocation of regular government funds.
Solis said that those especially affected by the specter of recession and economic contraction would be the poorest of the poor.
According to him, the current global financial crisis necessitates pump-priming responses from the government, which include stimulating the domestic demand to offset the drying-up of the export markets.
“The congressional discretionary fund was conceived precisely to augment the existing meager funds for countryside development. These funds have remained to be the most flexible, expeditious and responsive pro-poor instrument for progress in our districts,” he said. – GMANews.TV