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Speaker: No pork in P2.265-T proposed 2015 budget

Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. yesterday said there are no pork barrel funds in this year’s P2.265-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA), branding as baseless claims that the House leadership is keeping the pork barrel system.

Belmonte said Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio “was misinformed” when he led the filing of the fourth impeachment complaint against President Aquino in connection with supposed continued existence of priority development assistance fund (PDAF) in the proposed national budget for 2015.

“There are no pork barrel funds in this year’s budget. He (Tinio) had a misreading of what had happened,” Belmonte said.

Tinio vowed to block the disbursement of alleged P20.7 billion in “hidden pork” to the Supreme Court (SC) and the Office of the Ombudsman.

Belmonte explained that under this year’s General Appropriations Act (GAA), the P25-billion PDAF of House members were scrapped and were channelled into six implementing agencies.

The breakdown is as follows: Department of Health (DoH), P3.69-billion; Department of Labor and Employment (DOoLE), P3.69-billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P4.71-billion; Commission on Higher and Technical Education (CHEd); P2.66-billion, Department of Education (DepEd), P1.02-billion, and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), P9.65-billion.

Meanwhile, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said there is no “pork” in the P20.899 Billion Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) allocation for 2015.

“This is not also a campaign kitty for the administration’s 2016 Presidential bet,” Evardone said.

“All the GPBP allocations are itemized, based on the prioritization made by barangay-based people’s organizations and LGUs consultations. The GPBP process of identifying projects in far-flung barangays and municipalities with high poverty incidence is the real people power in action,” he said.

Evardone said this is a concrete realization and implementation of Article XIII Section 16 of the Constitution which mandates the State to respect “the right of the people and their organizations to effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social, political, and economic decision-making” and facilitate the establishment of adequate consultation mechanisms.”

“This GPBP is the most democratic and transparent process in identifying projects. This GPBP is one of the many innovative budget reforms of President Aquino to ensure that the actual needs and aspirations of the less privileged sectors of society are given priority budgetary allocations. Simply put, this is actually listening to our true bosses, the masses of our people,” he said.