Bacolod Rep. Evelio Leonardia said he is not in favor of the abolition of the pork barrel because, as soon as it is abolished, Bacolod City will instantly be deprived of P70 million that could go to so many projects to benefit its people.
There is no assurance that if it is realigned it will go back to Bacolod, Leonardia said during the blessing and inauguration of the Bacolod City Congressional Office at the St. Francis Building at Araneta Street Saturday.
Leonardia said the pork barrel, per se, is not bad, only if it is abused and that is something that they should watch out for.
“I believe that those who have misused the pork barrel, should be pursued or prosecuted if necessary. And that was the subject matter of a hot debate in Congress last week,” he said, in the wake of the newest pork barrel scam involving several public officials.
Leonardia said those who did not misuse their pork barrel want the matter investigated so the naked truth will come out.
Even Malacañang said it recognizes the familiarity of the congressmen in their districts, as against national officials who are looking at things from a distance, Leonardia said. So he is in favor of the retention of the pork barrel, he said, but added that there are many reforms and changes needed in the procedures.
Leonardia assured that he and his fellow solons will take good care of their pork barrel. They will see to it that they follow rules and regulations, and observe auditing and accounting procedures.
Meanwhile, Leonardia said the budget hearing will start on Wednesday, which means this will be the busiest time in Congress. The hearings might be held until Friday.
It was officially announced on the floor during the plenary session that he will be a member of the Appropriations Committee, he said.
Leonardia said the process in Congress is that they course things through the party, or consider the membership of the party.
The Liberal Party, for example, has about 110 members in Congress and the Nationalist People’s Coalition, which is the second biggest, has about 44, he said. The chairmanship, vice-chairmanships or memberships are being allocated according to the size of the party, he added.
Leonardia said he expects to be given a number of committees and of all the committees, one has already been officially announced. He is happy about it because the Committee on Appropriations is what everybody wants to be on and is described as a very powerful committee in Congress.
“It is not power that we are after, it is about being able to have a good look at these national expenditures of the government, which may include so many things, even the employees in these positions,” Leonardia said.
Leonardia said his interest is on whatever is due for Bacolod, especially in infrastructure where he expects a very substantial amount.
In fact, the Department of Public Works and Highways regional and district engineers are in Bacolod because they are finalizing things, which they will announce in due time, he said.
Leonardia also said he does not expect to have a chairmanship, being a neophyte. It was explained to them that, in the previous Congress, there were almost 130 new congressmen, so some were given chairmanship.
Now there are only 60 new congressmen. In Congress, seniority is a time-honored tradition that is given premium. He may announce his other committee memberships next week, he said.
Leonardia also said the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan can determine the majority in the SP next coming months. That will make it more interesting.
But definitely, they will be sympathetic to everybody in the barangay. They are in close contact and coordination with their political leaders and supporters in the barangay, he said.
At the inauguration of his Bacolod office, Leonardia said “The compelling reason why we have set up an office in Bacolod City is to be in close contact with our people and not just with our political leaders. This office is for the public. We will continue to provide support for the hospitalization of the people,” he said.
Because they are still new, their Countrywide Development Fund has not yet been processed, Leonardia said.
Because of the kind understanding of Dr. Julius Drilon, chief of hospital of the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, he said, they will continue to accommodate patients from Bacolod. “We want the people to know that our office is ready, willing and able to facilitate matters, including blood donation from the Philippine Red Cross,” Leonardia added.*CGS