Malacanang reiterates no ‘pork’ in 2014 budget

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

MALACANANG maintained on Tuesday that there was no more pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2014 budget.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that since the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the PDAF of lawmakers in 2013, the executive branch did not include this item in the national budget.

"Batid ng lahat na ayon sa desisyon ng Korte Suprema, ipinagbabawal ang partisipasyon ng mga mambabatas sa pagpapatupad ng budget at ‘yan ang prinsipyong sinusunod ng ehekutibo. Kaya ‘yon ang aming tugon doon sa mga alegasyon. Ang prinsipyo kasi ‘nung pasya ng Korte Suprema hinggil sa PDAF ay ‘yung pagbabawal sa partisipasyon ng mga kagawad ng Kamara at ng Senado sa pagpapatupad ng budget," he said.

Coloma made the statement in response to the fourth impeachment complaint filed on Monday against President Benigno Aquino III by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

ACT Teachers party-list Representative Antonio Tinio, in filing the complaint, said that his group would use recordings of a supposed executive session between the lawmakers and some members of the executive branch as part of their evidence.

The recordings contain the alleged admission by some of Aquino's officials that congressional pork still exists despite the high court's ruling on PDAF.

The pieces of evidence include audio recording of the "executive session" among the members of the House committee on appropriations and officials, such as Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan and Health Undersecretary Janette Garin.

Coloma said there is a need to determine the basis of the supposed recordings, stressing that the Aquino administration has been "very transparent" as far as the deliberation of the 2014 national budget was concerned.

"Dapat sigurong suriin kung ano ang tinutukoy diyan sa binunyag na ‘yan o revelation, ano ang pakahulugan, para naman matugunan ng Department of Budget (and Management) at ng pamahalaan," he said.

With Tinio's presentation of supposed recordings of an executive session, a group of party-list lawmakers threatened to file a complaint against him before the ethics committee.

Coloma said that it would be up to the House of Representatives to determine if Tinio violated any law.

"'Yung sinasabi nila tungkol sa bawal o hindi bawal, 'yon ay ipapaubaya na namin sa mga alituntunin ng kanilang Kamara—House rules—dahil sila naman hiwalay ng sangay," he said. (SDR/Sunnex)

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