Deputy Speaker Roberto “Robbie” Puno, the chairman of the National Unity Party (NUP), wants the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) abolished not only in name, but also in form.
Puno, who represents Antipolo’s 1st district, made it clear that he had signed a statement calling for the abolition of the PDAF because he does not want the Fund resurrected under any name or item in the national budget.
“Pag sinabing tanggalin, tanggalin ha (When you say abolish it, then let’s abolish it),” said Puno in a phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer. (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/481709/some-house-members-dont-want-pdaf-resurrected-by-any-other-name)
Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., the vice president of the NUP, agreed with Puno. “There should be a complete abolition, not even line items, to restore public trust and confidence to legislators,” said Barzaga, who also signed the statement calling for PDAF’s abolition.
The statement, signed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other leaders of the House of Representatives, expresses support for President Benigno Aquino III’s call for the abolition of the PDAF. It also asked the House appropriations committee to remove all allocations for the PDAF in the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for next year, including special provisions.
Belmonte is the honorary chairperson of the NUP.
With the abolition of the PDAF, the House leaders also called on the Executive branch and its implementing agencies to “take care” and address the legitimate needs of their respective constituencies.
“We the members of the House of Representatives of the 16th Congress support President Aquino's efforts to promote transparency and accountability as we join the call for the abolition of the PDAF. In view of this, we ask for the Committee of Appropriations to remove the P25-billion provision on the PDAF in the proposed 2014 national budget,” the statement read.
Puno said he and other members of the NUP were concerned that the public might not accept the statement of the House if the PDAF is kept under a different name or label in the national budget.
“Lalo lang magagalit ang tao (The people will just get angrier),” he said.
Puno said majority of the NUP’s 31 members in the House attended its “consultation” meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the proposed majority statement calling for the abolition of the PDAF.
The deputy speaker said a number of his colleagues in the Party raised legitimate concerns such as the fate of their medical assistance and scholarship programs for their constituents, which are currently funded by the PDAF. “We will now leave it to the executive branch, to the line agencies to handle,” Puno said. “We’ll give it a try.”