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Sen. Alan Cayetano (right)

Sen. Alan Cayetano: ‘There’s life after pork’

Sen. Alan Cayetano (right)
Sen. Alan Cayetano (right)

Quezon City, PHILIPPINES – Local senator pushes for funding system with “no legislators’ discretion, ” today.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter  “Companero”  S. Cayetano is asking the national government  to institutionalize a “pork-free” system of financing intended to sustain the thousands of scholars and indigent patients now wallowing in uncertainty with the demise of the congressional pork barrel system.

“Wala po dapat palakasan sa sistemang ito at kailangang masigurado na derecho sa taumbayan ang mga pondong ilalaan para dito.”

“There is life after pork for scholars and indigent patients. I believe there is more than enough funds and more than enough ways to give them what they need without giving politicians credit for it,” Cayetano assured.

The senator’s request was contained in a letter to Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, where he asked the national government, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), to set aside funds for scholars and indigent patients.

“Please allow me to first state my absolute and unequivocal support to the Supreme Court decision to declare the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or the so-called congressional pork barrel system, as unconstitutional,” Cayetano stated in his letter.

“However, while we all welcome this positive development, I am very concerned about its unintended and undesirable effects, a large part of which is the cessation of assistance extended to scholars and ailing indigent citizens requiring medical assistance.”

He said reports indicate that a survey of 95 members in the House of Representatives found out that a total of 412,078 scholarships will be affected now that the PDAF has  been abolished.

In another survey among 74 House members, he added, a total of 809,372 indigent patients are getting aid from the pork barrel system.

“While we have a responsibility to the Filipino people to abolish a system that has perpetuated corruption in our country, we are also duty-bound to help those who rely on these funds for assistance and ensure that these funds go directly to them,” Cayetano stressed.

“We should not allow this latest triumph of our efforts against the abuse and misuse of taxpayers’ money to be misconstrued and lead to another tragedy by unintentionally hurting our people, especially those who need help the most.”

In his letter, he likewise proposed that the DBM, in consultation and partnership with the appropriate agencies, establish a system that would allocate and equitably distribute funds to the various government hospitals to provide medical assistance to indigent patients as well as to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for scholarships across the country.

Cayetano, however, told Abad that any system establishing aid for scholars and indigent patients should not have any provision that will give lawmakers and politicians discretion on the use and distribution of public funds and “that there is no room for any circumvention of the SC decision on the PDAF.”

Cayetano nevertheless assured Abad that he would support any action that the national government may undertake based on this request.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.