Nograles Intensifies Info Drive On "PORK BARREL"
17 March 2008 08:44:07 AM
Writer: Gil Bugaoisan
As part of a sweeping transparency reform agenda, Speaker Prospero C. Nograles mobilized all members of the House of Representatives to conduct public meetings in their respective constituencies to openly explain where their "pork barrel" funds go.
"I enjoin all my colleagues to conduct public or town hall meetings with their district or party list constituencies to explain the utilization of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)," Nograles said.
Nograles already initiated the printing and distribution of a pamphlet entitled "Understanding the Pork Barrel," which he co-authored with Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, that would outline and help each member explain to the people what it really is and how important it is to countrywide development.
"The public cannot appreciate what it does not understand," the Speaker said.
This pamphlet Nograles said will be also distributed to various business organizations, non-government organizations, tri-media agencies and other sectors to help the public better understand the "pork barrel."
He would also ask the Department of Education (DepEd)to use the pamphlet as part of their required reading material for secondary senior students in their social studies subjects and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for college students.
" The only way to erase the generations of misconception about the pork is to properly educate our people what it's all about and how it's helping our people, particularly our rural folks," he said.
This information campaign to refute the misconceptions about the "pork barrel" is on top of the PDAF website being developed which would allow public access on the details of PDAF allocation of each member of the House of Representatives.
Nograles noted that most people fail to see that the relatively small projects implemented under the PDAF complement and link the national development goals to the countryside and grassroots as well as depressed areas which are overlooked by central agencies mostly preoccupied with mega-projects.
"It is the pork barrel funds that take care of small but very vital projects in the countryside ? farm-to-market roads, small bridges, classrooms in remote barrios, markets, scholarships for the underprivileged, medicines and countless requirements in the rural areas," he said.
Nograles also lamented that most people believe that the CDF or PDAF is a cash allocation personally given to members of Congress for their unlimited discretionary disposition without any constraint or accountability.
"This is a complete misconception which must be corrected. Members of Congress neither handle the funds nor implement the projects," Nograles said.
Public perception that the "pork barrel" allocation is exclusive to the members of the House of Representatives is also another great misconception because Senators also have their "pork barrel."
At present, each member of the House of Representatives is entitled to P70 Million PDAF while Senators are entitled to P200 Million PDAF allocation each.
Their authority under the law, he said, is limited to the identification of projects and designation of beneficiaries, subject to a specific menu. The implementation is also undertaken by the appropriate government agency after an open public bidding.
Since the advent of the CDF in 1990 and the institution of the PDAF in 2000 up to the present, Nograles noted that "there has been no post-audit report by the Commission on Audit (COA) directly associating any member of Congress to serious abuse, misuse and/or infraction in the utilization and implementation of the much-maligned congressional funds."
"We just have to explain to our people. This is the only way for them to appreciate its vitality to rural and national development. We just have to work harder and bring government closer to our people," Nograles said.
Source: Office of Speaker Prospero C. Nograles