Under Jose de Venecia’s leadership, representatives of various parties in the lower house have agreed to scrap their pork barrel. The congressmen said they are “taking the moral and political high ground” to help the president solve the fiscal crisis.
This proposal however still needs to be approved by all the 236 members of the House of Representatives. The people have long been calling for the abolition of the pork barrel system, officially known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund. With the initiative already taken by their leaders, will the lawmakers finally yield to the public’s clamor?
We hope so. Many of them will surely raise ostentatious and obviously self-serving concerns. They will say–as Bohol Rep. Roberto Cajest had already did–that the abolition of the pork barrel system will “adversely affect basic services and economic growth.” Duh? Wouldn’t the delivery of basic services and our economy improve when we’ve finally disposed of that corruption-ridden system?
If this proposal succeeds, maybe some of them would choose to resign–as Zambales Representative Antonio Diaz did when he did not become deputy speaker–as they would no longer have access to the juicy funds. We’ll, let’s just keep track of the names and statements of these “honorable” men and women in Congress.
Another good news from Congress, this time from the upper house: Senate President Franklin Drilon said he had refiled a bill that will impose a limit on domestic and foreign borrowings.
“Debt servicing has been eating a substantial portion of the annual government budget,” INQ7 quoted Drilon as saying. “Because of mandatory interest payments, there is little room for expenditures in the national budget for urgent social and physical infrastructures needed to stimulate the economy.”
From P78 billion in 1997, interest payments surged to P223 billion or 28 percent of the total budget in 2003, the report said. We need such a bill now. In fact, NGOs like the Freedom from Debt Coalition have been calling for the repeal of the Automatic Appropriations Law.