Today’s news (9 senators realign P1.8-billion pork | Inquirer News) say senators, and by implication also congressmen, “realigned” their pork barrel funds which were recently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Supposedly in compliance with the decision, they amended the 2014 budget by transferring their Priority Development Assistance Fund (a.k.a. congressional pork barrel) of P200M per senator and P70M per congressman to various agencies like, in Sen. Estrada’s blatant case, the City of Manila where his dad is the mayor.
The question to ask is not where these funds were realigned but whether legislators had the right to do this in the first place.
Since said funds were already declared unconstitutional and illegal by the SC, then it should have been stricken out of the budget altogether and, if realigned to other items, should not have been done on an individual basis by legislators still treating the fund as their personal entitlement. In effect, what they did was just remove the PDAF label. Apparently, senators and congressmen were still left to decide individually where the money would go. This power of individual discretion – whether by legislators or by the President – is at the root of the corrupt pork barrel system. Obviously they have retained this feature even as they removed the PDAF itself. Nice.
Of course Sen. Escudero assures us that there will be no “post-enactment intervention,” meaning legislators will have no power to tell the agencies who received their “realigned” PDAF how to use the money. Yeah, right. In reality, agencies who were given additional “realigned” PDAF funds will be hard put not to accede to the “requests” and “recommendations” of our legislators because come the 2015 budget hearing, they might just find themselves castrated. This would be especially true at the local levels, where congressmen usually hold court along with their relatives in the LGUs.
So where does the buck stop now? Where else but the Executive, where the pork barrel king reigns. The legislators have tried to go around the SC decision. Its up to the DBM and the Palace now to make sure that indeed, the PDAF is abolished and the pork barrel system no more. Oh but I forgot, the emperor, or the king in this case, wears no clothes.#