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Palace: Raps vs Noy’s pork barrel not true

While critics lambast President Aquino on his alleged huge Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which, they said, includes the P100-billion Malampaya fund, Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office yesterday junked the charges as not true.
Coloma, who was at the House of Representatives for the hearing on the proposed budget of his agency, said that the Presidential Social Fund (PSF), or what critics tag as the President’s PDAF, is being spent with a purpose.
“That is not true. I was the administrator of the Presidential Social Fund during the administration of President Corazon Aquino, the PSF is spent on a particular purpose, it is not spent for just anything,” Coloma told House reporters.
He explained that the PSF is spent for school buildings, potable water, livelihood projects and urgent needs of the people in cases of typhoon and other calamities. He said that there is a specific provision for the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide shelter and relief goods for recipients who are identified.
“The President is very circumspect in his discretionary fund, the contingency fund is dispersed prudently and frugally, there is no basis to the claim that it is not spent well,” he said.
“There is accountability in the process,” Coloma added.
The Tribune reported that President Aquino has more than a trillion-peso presidential pork, officially known as PDAF hidden in the P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget which Congress cannot scrutinize.
The report also said that President Aquino has at his disposal more than a hundred billion pesos from the Malampaya funds which Congress will never have a chance to scrutinize at all.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares during a press briefing said that while income generated from the Malampaya oil exploration forms part of the National Treasury, it cannot be used by Congress to appropriate funds for the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
At the budget hearing the other day, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla admitted that the income generated from Malampaya has already accumulated to P173 billion from 2002 up to the present, of which P38.9 billion had been spent by the government, including P5.8 billion for agricultural guarantee fund, P1 billion for modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and P2.2 billion for the Department of Interior and Local Government-Philippine National Police (DILG-PNP).
Colmenares also said that the Aquino administration allotted P814 million from the fund for rural electrification projects which can be disbursed at the discretion of the President.
According to the Bayan Muna solon, the administration is taking refuge under Presidential Decree 910 which states that funds from Malampaya should be spent for energy-related projects or projects approved by the President.
The solon also expressed apprehension the Malampaya fund may be used by the administration to bolster the chances of its candidates for the 2016 elections.
Meanwhile, the group Karapatan yesterday joined the call for the abolition of the PDAF or the so-called pork barrel, which includes the social fund of the President and local government officials.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said that “the pork barrel is not only a source of corruption but it also violates the people’s rights to essential social services.”
“Instead of using the fund for education, health, housing and other services that will directly serve the people, it passes through another unnecessary layer, where unscrupulous politicians and their agents take advantage of, for their personal gains,” Palabay elaborated.
Karapatan also censured the position of Presdent Noynoy Aquino in favor of maintaining the pork barrel, despite growing public clamor for its abolition in the light of allegations involving corruption of P10 billion in government funds by Janet Napoles with the complicity of executive agencies, legislators and local governments.  
“It is more infuriating to hear how the President downplayed the P89.2 million released by the Department of Agriculture, under his administration, to a bogus NGO, placing it in contrast to the P728 million fertilizer scam and other corruption scandals during the Arroyo regime. He desperately tries to portray his administration as the lesser evil,” Palabay said.

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