Thursday, May 15, 2014

Drilon urges public to guard 2015 budget against PDAF revival, be more discerning regarding pork barrel scam issue

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon challenged the public to closely monitor the Congress when it enacts the 2015 national budget to see to it that the pork barrel system will not be revived.

Tinatanong po kami, ano ang gagawin ng Senado ngayon ang daming senador na nababanggit? Sa akin po, ipagpatuloy natin ang mga reporma na ginagawa natin at naumpisahan noong nakaraang taon. Ako po nanguna sa Senado na nagasabi, ‘Wala nang PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund), dahil ito ang pinagsimulan ng lahat ng mga alegasyon na ito,” Drilon said in Filipino in a radio interview earlier.

(We are now being asked as to what would happen to the Senate now that many of its members are being dragged to the controversy. To restore public trust then is to continue the reforms we have been committed to since this issue first broke out last year. Upon my leadership, our very first step had been the abolition of the Senate's PDAF, which has been the root of this controversy. ")

“Bantayan po natin, sa paguusap namin sa 2015 budget dapat po tingnan  ng taumbayan, lalo na ng kabataan, para masiguro natin na walang PDAF na maiisisingit. Doon sa mga kaso, sinusuportahan natin iyan,” he added.

("I then call on the public to not only join, but take a supervisory role over the budgetary process for the 2015 GAA. I am asking our people, especially our youth to join efforts to ensure that PDAF and its exploitable shortcomings would never find its way to our budget next year.)

Ang taunang General Appropriations Act  ay batas, kaya humihiling po ako sa media, sa ating mga kababayan lalo na sa mga kabataan, na maging aktibo sa gawain ng pamahalaan, na tingnan ninyo po kami, kung ano ang aming ginagawa,” Drilon said in another radio interview.

(The annual General Appropriations Act is a piece of legislation, a law. I am requesting then then our people, especially our bright youth to exercise their right to be involved in the legislative process. Take a look, probe and examine piece by piece the laws our lawmakers craft for this country." )

He said that while he could assure that the 2015 national budget would be free of pork barrel funds, as he vowed to take away immediately any item that would bear a resemblance to the PDAF, which the Senate decided to abolish even before the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional late last year.

 “Let us take advantage of this atmosphere of transparency implemented by the President to look at the budget and make sure that the pork barrel fund will not be included in the 2015 national budget,” stressed Drilon.

“We heard your clamor then to abolish the pork barrel – the root cause of all these scams. And from that time on, we have made a promise that we would never stop listening to our people. But we need your vigilance on this issue of pork barrel fund and corruption,” emphasized Drilon.

He said the public has the power and prerogative to examine the budget and that the doors of the Senate are open to the public who want to scrutinize how the Senate deliberates on the budget.

Meanwhile, the Senate leader urged the public to discern truth and false information regarding the pork barrel scam, amidst the brouhaha brought by the multiple lists linking a number of lawmakers to the controversy.

Drilon said he expects that the public’s growing interest in the issue would be used to launch misinformation and propaganda aimed at muddling up the issue.

“I advise the public to be more discerning. We need to filter the empty propaganda from the allegations that can indeed be supported by solid proof, because the pork barrel scam issue is very much exploitable,” said Drilon.

He said that the issue is wrongfully being linked to 2016 elections, which should not be the case “since the search for the truth behind the pork barrel scam should be free of politics and the quest for justice must be blind to political colors.”

"Let us all remember the main question here: Who are the public officials who collaborated with Napoles to misuse the PDAF? They are trying to hide it, but that is the most crucial thing we need to answer," stressed Drilon.

The Senate chief believes that continued public vigilance is vital in ferreting out the truth and in ensuring that justice will be served by punishing those who will be proven to have misused public funds.
“In times like this, the active participation by the people all throughout this process is very critical. I invite everyone especially the youth to keep an eye on the Senate, watch us public officials, listen to our words and probe our actions,” concluded Drilon. 


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