3 senatorial aspirants back removal of Congress' discretionary funds

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2018 09:15 PM

MANILA - Three senatorial candidates on Thursday said they will not use discretionary funds allotted to lawmakers should they win a Senate seat in the 2019 midterm elections.

The Supreme Court has made it clear that pork barrel or legislative discretionary funds are unconstitutional, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno told radio DZMM's "Ikaw Na Ba" senatorial candidates' interview.

"Sa mga mambabatas, dapat wala silang pakialam sa pagiimplement ng proyekto. Iyon ay tungkulin ng executive department," he said.

(Lawmakers should not meddle with the implementation of projects. That is the job of the executive department.)

In 2013, the high court ruled the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as unconstitutional, but lawmakers continue to have the privilege of identifying pet projects in their legislative districts and political turfs.

Former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said he has consistently been against pork barrel even when he was still a member of Congress.

Colmenares said he filed a bill that prohibits the inclusion of pork barrel in the budget, and questioned the Aquino administration's Disbursement Acceleration Program - a similar discretionary fund for legislators - before the Supreme Court.

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The constitution should be amended to specifically prohibit discretionary funds, Prof. Antonio "Butch" Valdez said as he agreed with Diokno and Colmenares.

"Ang mga mambabatas, they will not legislate against themselves... Kailangan natin tanggalin completely itong nagpapakain sa monster na dynasty [na] parang ginagawa na kasing negosyo ang politika," he said.

(Lawmakers will not legislate against themselves... We need to completely remove the thing that feeds the dynastic monsters who seem to make a business out of politics.)

"Kapag nawala yan, ang mga papasok ay mga tunay na mambabatas at magkakaron ng kredibilidad ang ating legislature," he said.

(If the discretionary fund is removed, only sincere lawmakers will run for office and our legislature will have more credibility.)