Seems like even the honourable and learned senators of this fine land cannot grasp simple principles that underpin a growing public sentiment against discretionary public spending in the Philippines by the legislature — specifically that which comes in the form of “pork barrel” funds. Senate President Franklin Drilon, for one, cannot seem to understand that executives execute, and legislators legislate.
Apparently, Drilon who reportedly says he “spent his pork funds on school buildings, public hospitals and indigent patients” thinks “building” stuff pretty much constitutes the only role “legislators” play in the running of the state. To Drilon, it seems, without pork, Congress is pretty much useless…
Senate President Franklin Drilon said that while the PDAF would be abolished as declared by the President, each lawmaker would still retain their right to direct a portion of the annual budget (P200 million for each senator and P70 million for a representative) to a hospital or a road project that they desired.
“What will happen if we will not take a direct hand (in the identification of projects)? Let’s just abolish Congress then,” he said.
Drilon said the only difference from the reviled pork barrel system and the President’s plan was that these allocations would be made during the regular public hearings on the budget in Congress and that the funds would go directly to the implementing agency and not to nongovernment organizations. The NGOs handle the implementation, monitoring and reporting under the current system.
Maybe Drilon has suddenly forgotten the actual legislative work that legislators are supposed to be doing that need not be funded by pork — you know, things like crafting and deliberating laws and all that.
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Interestingly, back in the 31st of July 2013, a Sun Star report quoted Drilon as saying something quite the opposite to what he now says following that Luneta “million people march”…
MANILA — Senate President Franklin Drilon backed the proposal of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Wednesday to scrap the pork barrel of lawmakers by 2016.
“I was for the abolition of PDAF (priority development assistance fund) from the very beginning. The proposal of Miriam appears to be feasible,” said Drilon, although he declined to say if his position reflects the sentiment of the majority.
Ano ba talaga mister Senate President??
So back to the question that forms the crux of this whole “debate”. Why do legislators need to be involved in the actual appropriation and disbursement of public funds? They are already involved in the approval of the manner with which these have been allocated in the national budget. The actual execution of the operations funded by these appropriations is an Executive function. The spending of these funds within the limits specified in said approved budget is the responsibility of the Executive branch. And the job of keeping the officers of the Executive branch honest falls within the domain of a number of investigative and police agencies within the government — the Commission on Audit (COA), the Ombudsman, and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) among others. Given this fine array of institutional oversight, we can now see that further oversight coming from the Legislative branch is simply redundant — a waste of time and resources that could’ve been channeled towards the real job of Congress: crafting the nation’s laws.
Perhaps what Drilon really meant to say is that we should abolish that part of Congress that will really be rendered useless if the pork barrel funds are taken away. You wonder then in this light: What use is the Senate?
What does the Senate do that the House of Representatives cannot do?
Does the Philippines really need a Senate?
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.