Davao del Sur lawmaker willing to beg for 'pork'

Subscribe Now August 02, 2011 at 08:15pm

DAVAO del Sur's first district representative Marc Douglas Cagas IV will do anything to get his share of priority development assistance fund (PDAF) for this year, he told members of the House committee on appropriations Monday. "Kung kailangan kong lumuhod sa President, luluhod ako para lang sa aking mga constituents (If I have to kneel before President Benigno Aquino III, I will do it for my constituents)," said Cagas, a part of the House minority bloc.

Cagas said he submitted his PDAF proposal even before the proposed 2011 national budget has been approved in Congress. Up to this date, however, not a single centavo from the P70-million PDAF for his district has been released.

The House opposition earlier threatened to boycott budget hearings if all its members do not received the full P70-million allocation per House member.

Out of all the minority lawmakers, only Cagas and Pampanga Representative Aurelio "Dong" Gonzales attended the first budget hearing scheduled by the House committee on appropriations.

Cagas also complained that under the proposed national budget for 2012, not a single centavo has been appropriated for his district.

"I would like to thank DBM (Department of Budget and Management) for allocating not a single centavo to Davao Del Sur on national projects; not to mention my PDAF - zero, as in zero," he said, while P800 million has been appropriated for the province's second district.

"My patients and students have suffered much already...and yet we paid so much taxes compared to smaller provinces. Do we really have the power of the purse?" Cagas added.

Citing data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Cagas said that Davao del Sur's first district surpassed all its targets in amount of taxes paid from 2007 to 2010.

Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad explained that assuming there are no issues regarding the conditions by the administration, PDAF requests will be immediately released.

"It's not possible for any district to get zero," he added.

Abad further clarified that Cagas's district was allocated P238.5 million for road repair under the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Navotas Representative Tobias Tiangco, who, so far, has only received P29.5 million out of the P35 million first tranche of the PDAF, also complained of the delayed release of "pork barrel".

He said that under the law, all fund releases for government use should be released not more than 15 days. He then moved for such time frame to be observed by the DBM and the House Committee on Appropriations.

Appropriations committee chair Joseph Emilio Abaya, however, argued that Tiangco's motion is "not realistic".

During the same hearing, Abad said agencies under the executive branch were told to refrain from seeking additional budget apart from the submitted budget.

Heads of agencies are scheduled to face lawmakers in a series of budget hearings, which started Monday, to explain and justify their funding requests.

Under the law, the government's proposed national budget would have to go under scrutiny by legislators who exercise the power of the purse.

The proposed national budget for 2012 is P1.816 trillion and has been dubbed as a "results-focused budget".

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, for his part, asked Congress "to go slow on revenue measures" since the Aquino administration had vowed no new taxes until 2016.

Purisima said the Department of Finance targets P40.5 billion under its tax administration measures -- P29.5 billion from the Bureau of Internal Revenue and P11 billion from the Bureau of Customs.

To achieve its proposed budget, DOF said it will enhance collection efficiencies by intensifying allocation of dividends and payables to government-owned and -controlled corporations, and continuing its privatization program, among others.

Source: sunstar.com.ph

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