Drilon’s pork re-appropriation proposal is unnecessary, legally flawed
I am sure Senate President Franklin Drilon has the best of intentions in proposing the re-appropriation of the P14.5-billion unspent portion of the lawmakers’ 2013 pork barrel fund for infrastructure projects that would be undertaken to rehabilitate the localities devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
I am afraid Drilon’s proposal is not the most prudent way to pursue his objective. First of all, it would run counter to the recent ruling of the Supreme Court declaring the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) unconstitutional and ordering that all unspent portions of the the 2013 PDAF be immediately returned to the national treasury. Secondly, even if Drilon’s resolution were approved, the actual disbursements therefrom would, or could, be made in 2014 yet. So, why appropriate something that definitely will not be spent during the budget year for which it has been appropriated? It defies plain common sense, doesn’t it? To boot, it compromises unnecessarily certain budget controls we need very much.
It does not necessarily follow, of course, that without the good senator’s resolution, there would be no money with which to undertake the government’s program for the rehabilitation of the provinces ravaged by Yolanda. As a matter of fact, the budget for 2014 has yet to be approved as we write. It can still accept anything for inclusion before the current year ends, including such infrastructure projects as Drilon and/or the budget department may have in mind—as well as all other calamity-related expenditures that President Aquino is budgeting for—which are all expected to be spent in 2014 and which, therefore, should be clearly itemized rather than, as practiced before, merely presented in lump sum.
On the other hand, if Drilon’s resolution pushed through, “double handling” of some infrastructure projects in next year’s budget can’t be totally avoided or effectively controlled. That is to say, that which has been already included in the unspent/re-appropriated 2013 lawmakers’ pork may still be covered by the President with his own appropriations for the rehabilitation of the Yolanda-damaged infrastructure.
Above all, with all due respect, Drilon’s proposition is clearly a form of lump-sum appropriation in the budget which, since time immemorial, we have abhorred and tried to minimize—yet, alas, rather in vain.
—RUDY L. CORONEL,
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