Senate takes on abolition of PDAF in long caucus

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, (PNA) — The Senate has began, on Wednesday, a lengthy all-senators caucus on the abolition of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for 2014.

This came following a resolution approved by the Senate Tuesday, mandating the Senators to abandon their remaining PDAF to augment the calamity fund.

Senate President Franklin Drilon authored the resolution in an effort to help victims of calamity-stricken areas, adding the senators have waived and abandoned their PDAF for 2013.

“With that abandonment of their PDAF entitlement, it has created savings which the President may use as calamity fund for areas affected by the typhoons ‘Labuyo’ and ‘Santi,’ by the earthquake in Visayas, and the man-made disaster in Zamboanga City,” Drilon said in a statement.

“We have to respond and assist the government in disaster relief, speedy post-disaster recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of provinces affected by these recent calamities that hit our country,” he added.

Senator Serge Osmeña, however, expressed his doubts on the complete abolition of PDAF next year and suggested realigning it to different agencies.

“I hope we’ll be the one to scrap it. But is everyone willing to do that? We will decide on that because that will be the subject of our caucus today (Wednesday),” Osmeña said.

“Let’s not scrap it, let’s put it to specific agencies that really need the money. We can define the purpose but we won’t rename it, we’ll leave it already to the department,” he added.

He also explained that the PDAF should be voted upon to be scrapped by both chambers.

“The approval of the total votes of all the congressmen and all the senators because that is the power of Congress, the power of the purse,” he said.

“We can rule that we identify our projects, but this has to be transparent. We are not allowed to steal the money. We are not allowed to give it to our contractors, or our NGOs,” he added.

“Diyan nagkakagulo eh. The shenanigans that go on to divert the real use of funds,” he further said.