Senate wants remaining PDAF for calamity assistance

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

THE Senate is planning to pass a resolution that will allow President Benigno Aquino III to tap the remaining priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of senators in 2013 to help victims of calamities.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said Sunday the plan is legal even if the Supreme Court stopped the release of PDAF, which is intended for infrastructure and social services projects endorsed by members of Congress.

Petitions filed against the constitutionality of pork barrel, widely seen as source of corruption for erring lawmakers, were recently heard by the High Court. The Court may issue a decision next month to give Congress the time to study it while the proposed 2014 national budget is under deliberation.

“Sa akin kahit may kaso ang PDAF ay pwedeng magamit to augment the calamity fund. Even if SC declares that it is unconstitutional, pwedeng gamitin at ilipat sa savings sa dahilan po na ang realignment ay pinapayagan sa Saligang Batas. Ito po ay nakalaan na,” said Drilon in a radio interview.

The Senate President did not know how much is the unused PDAF of senators, who receive P200 million yearly.

“Hindi ko pa alam kung magkano. Regardless kung magkano pa ang naiwan, ang sense of the Senate ay ilipat sa calamity fund,” he said.

Drilon said the senators discussed this option in a caucus last October 16, a day after a magnitude-7.2 earthquake jolted Central Visayas and parts of Mindanao.

The tremor, which had the strength of 32 atomic bombs that fell on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945, has left 185 people dead and destroyed a lot of properties including centuries-old churches.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has yet to reply to queries as of this posting Sunday. (Sunnex)

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