06 July 2010
The proposal of Liberal Party leaders in the House of Representatives to drastically slash Congressional allocations or what is known as the Priority Development Assistant Fund (PDAF) is flawed, cosmetic, counterproductive, anti-poor and will reduce countrywide development.
The proffered reason for reducing the PDAF from P70M to P30M annually for Representatives and P200M to P130M for Senators is to reduce the fiscal deficit and avoid the imposition of new taxes to raise revenues.
The proposal is not responsive to the twin problems for the following reasons:
1. The savings to be generated is small at about P10-B. This is a miniscule dent on the deficit of P293.2-B and is a meager addition to revenues.
2. The relatively small savings will not be commensurate to the grave reduction in local services and poor beneficiaries for scholarship programs, medical assistance, small but critically needed infrastructure projects in the countryside, livelihood support programs, employment generation, access to potable water, energization of sitios and barangays and needed financial assistance to local government units, all of which are sourced from the PDAF.
In other words, less PDAF would translate to less scholars, less assisted indigent patients, less livelihood support programs, less countrywide infrastructure development, less rural employment, less potable water supply and less barangay and sitio electrification and less financial support to LGUs.
3. The Countrywide Development Fund (CDF), now the PDAF, has been declared valid and constitutional by the Supreme Court in Philconsa vs. Enriquez (235 SCRA 506).
4. Legislators do not personally handle the PDAF funds which are released directly to appropriate implementing agencies. The role of legislators is only to identify priority projects, which is part of the power to appropriate funds as sustained by the Supreme Court; and
5. While the PDAF is suspected to be prone to corruption, no legislator has been convicted. The solution is a strict monitoring of PDAF projects, and errant legislators must perforce be prosecuted and convicted, if warranted. The problem must be addressed but the lifeline for development and poverty alleviation must not be sacrificed.
Slashing the PDAF is flawed, cosmetic, counterproductive and anti-poor
- Press Statements