Tuesday, October 8, 2013
MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today/Oct. 12 said that insofar as the Senate is concerned, the senators will exercise all options available to them to dissolve the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) even in the absence of a Supreme Court ruling declaring it unconstitutional.
“Under my watch as Senate President, reforms will start with the immediate abolition of PDAF allocation for senators in the proposed 2014 national budget,” said Drilon.
While an actual vote has yet to be officially taken, the Senate chief said that a majority of the senators have publicly declared that they will do away with the PDAF allocations in 2014 in response to the people cry for change.
“There is no turning back as far as the pork barrel system is concerned. We have to institute these reforms in order to regain our people’s trust and confidence,” stressed Drilon.
Drilon issued the statement in response to Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s opinion that only an act of Congress or a Supreme Court ruling can abolish the PDAF.
He said there are available remedies to the Executive and the Congress to get rid of the pork barrel.
“We do not need a special law to abolish PDAF as an item in the General Appropriations Act. Aside from a court ruling that will declare the PDAF unconstitutional, the Executive or the Congress may exercise other options to abolish congressional pork barrel to respond to the clamor of the people,” said Drilon.
First, the President may opt not to include the PDAF item in the National Expenditures Program when he submits it to Congress on an annual basis. Second, the Congress may delete the PDAF item in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), an option which the Senate intends to do when the 2014 proposed national budget reaches the Senate.
Third, if Congress passes the national budget with PDAF, the President can exercise power of line item veto. Lastly, the President can fully or partially impound release of any item in the GAA, including PDAF.
Meanwhile, Drilon said the Senate will prioritize the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, which is crucial in the fight against corruption, when the Senate resumes its session on Monday.
“We will begin the period of interpellations on the proposed legislation this week, so that it will be approved by the end of the year,” he said.
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