Wednesday, May 06, 2009

PGMA's Proposal to Use the Pork Barrel for Rewards is Ill-Advised

In a bid to show that her administration is doing something about the rash of political killings in the country which has given the Philippines a bad mark in the international community, she ordered the creation of a fund to finance a reward system for informants which would lead to the arrest of the masterminds of the killings.

While I appreciate the President’s move to show that her administration is acting on political killings, she may have been ill-advised on the proposal to tap the Priority Development Assistance Fund, commonly known as the Pork Barrel, to build up the reward fund. Either Malacanang has forgotten the provision of law which prescribes how the PDAF is supposed to be spent, or they are deliberately shifting the attention of the people on political killings to the lawmakers.

The General Appropriations Act, which authorizes the expenditure of the PDAF, prescribes that the PDAF shall only be spent on the priority development program which lists the following as the only authorized expenditures:

1. Education
2. Health
3. Livelihood
4. Electrification
5. Water Supply
6. Financial Assistance to Local Government Units for Pro-Poor Programs
7. Public Works
8. Irrigation
9. Peace and Order for the purchase of fire trucks, patrol cars & fire/police stations
10. Housing
11. Forest Management
12. Historical Sites

The provision of the General Appropriations Act which prescribes how the pork barrel is to spent may be viewed here.

Reward money is not included in the authorized expenditures for the pork barrel. That’s the law. The president’s advisers are either not well versed with the General Appropriations Act or are deliberately diverting the burden of coming up with the solution to the problem on the legislators while making it appear that the President is doing something about it.

But the proposal is not at all bad. In order to pursue what the President initiated, Congress may pass a law which will create the reward fund and appropriate the necessary funds to make it a reality.

I already have a bill filed in Congress creating the Rewards for Information on Concerning Terrorism which not only appropriates the necessary amount but also prescribes guidelines on how it will be disbursed and who will disburse the fund. Such rewards should also be covered by accountability in order to avoid controversies on how it is given out. I will file a similar bill specifically for Reward for Information on Political Killings or RIP-Kill Bill.

This should be the response of Congress to the initiative of the President. I am hoping that she will support this and call on administration lawmakers to support the bill.

No comments: