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No pork in 2015 budget, Drilon says

Senate President Franklin Drilon on Sunday debunked reports that P25 billion worth of pork barrel funds will be included in the 2015 national budget.

Drilon issued a statement saying there is no truth to a report published (not in the Manila Bulletin) that say senators would be able to keep their P200 million annual Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) while House members would be able to retain their P70 million annual allocation for a number of infrastructure projects.

The Supreme Court struck down PDAF as unconstitutional in November 2013 after a scandal broke out over allegations that lawmakers channeled their pork barrel to bogus projects in exchange for kickbacks.

Three senators—Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla, Jr.–are now facing plunder and graft charges after being linked to the anomaly.

“There is no truth to a… report that the Senate leadership has instructed its members to submit a list of projects that would be funded by the 2015 national budget,” Drilon said.

Drilon denied that Senate leaders asked its members to submit a list of infrastructure projects and medical, educational and financial assistance beneficiaries that they want to be included in next year’s budget.

“I have never asked my colleagues to prepare and submit a list containing preferences for development projects which used to be funded by PDAF,” Drilon said.

He reiterated that the Senate itself led efforts to abolish the PDAF even before the Supreme Court declared the pork barrel funds as unconstitutional.

He also said he has never received any request from the Department of Budget and Management to initiate or coordinate such a selection.