disbelief

I couldn’t believe it when I saw it, but here’s what’s in the banner story of today’s Philippine Star:

Lawmakers’ P21-B ‘pork’ restored
by Jess Diaz

 

 

Happy days are here again for both senators and congressmen.

The chairman of the House appropriations committee revealed yesterday that the congressional pork barrel fund — cut drastically two years ago — has been restored to P21.3 billion for all members of Congress.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda told a news conference that under President Arroyo’s proposed P1.136-trillion 2007 budget, pork barrel funds have been restored to P70 million per congressman and P200 million per senator.

And here’s the kicker:

“Given that 2007 is an election year, I think those are reasonable amounts,” he said.

Whaaatt??? Garapalan na ba talaga? Using public funds for election purposes? Everybody knows that this is happening, of course, but it was just a bit jarring to see it stated so cavalierly, almost as a matter of policy. Is there some convoluted or noble legislative-executive-governance-policy explanation here that I’m missing? I don’t think so.

Full Article:

 

Lawmakers’ P21-B ‘pork’ restored

By Jess Diaz

The Philippine Star 09/15/2006

 

Happy days are here again for both senators and congressmen.

The chairman of the House appropriations committee revealed yesterday that the congressional pork barrel fund — cut drastically two years ago — has been restored to P21.3 billion for all members of Congress.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda told a news conference that under President Arroyo’s proposed P1.136-trillion 2007 budget, pork barrel funds have been restored to P70 million per congressman and P200 million per senator.

“Given that 2007 is an election year, I think those are reasonable amounts,” he said.

Two years ago, because of the government’s financial difficulties, allocations were cut to P40 million per House member and P120 million per senator.

At P70 million for each of the 236 members, the House pork barrel would cost taxpayers P16.5 billion. The Senate would have P4.8 billion in such funds at its disposal.

The pork barrel has long been widely perceived as a source of corruption for lawmakers and officials implementing their projects.

However, Salceda admitted that last year and this year, “at least 196 members (of the majority bloc in the House)” received P70 million each, though officially, they were entitled to P40 million only.

He said the President allocated the additional P30 million from her own funds.

Apparently, the remaining 40 of the 236 House members who did not get the P30-million “bonus” from Malacañang belong to the opposition bloc, which is led by Minority Leader Francis Escudero.

Members of Escudero’s group have been complaining that even their 2004 allotments have not been released.

“This is what we get for supporting the impeachment of the President. We will soon be unable to fund our scholars and patients because Mrs. Arroyo is taking it against us by withholding our funds as if it is their money,” Rep. Joel Villanueva of the party-list group Citizens Battle Against Corruption said.

He said the restoration of the pork barrel allocation to P70 million would be meaningless to the minority members and thousands of their constituents unless the funds are released.

Salceda said his committee would complete hearings on the 2007 budget next week.

He said the House should be able to approve the budget proposal before the first congressional break on Oct. 14.

He also said he and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Franklin Drilon, have agreed in principle on the final shape of the P46.4-billion 2006 supplemental budget that the President requested and the P850-million stand-by fund for the Guimaras oil cleanup, assistance to victims of the eruption of Mayon volcano and the repatriation of Filipino workers in Lebanon.

“I think it is safe to assume that we will have a supplemental budget,” he added.

The additional outlay includes P500 million for the repair of school buildings and another P500 million for the construction of new classrooms.

Half of the fund for new classrooms would be made available to the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) and other non-government organizations, provided that their building cost would not exceed P225,000 per 49-square-meter room.

Obviously, this provision was introduced by Drilon, who in the past allocated his pork barrel funds to FFCCCII’s “Operation Barrio School.”

According to the former Senate president, FFCCCII builds classrooms at half the amount it would cost the Department of Public Works and Highways to construct the same school building.

He said the government’s cost is double principally due to corruption.

One thought on “disbelief

  1. don September 17, 2006 at 2:33 pm Reply

    Pucha! Matindi. Nasasalat ko na yung mukha niya mula dito a! What would it take to completely revolutionize the mindset of our country’s politicians? Umaasa pa ako ng pagbabago pero minsan… minsan talaga, naiisip ko kung suntok sa buwan lang talaga itong mithiin na ito.

    Like

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