Negros Occidental and Bacolod City congressmen yesterday aired mixed views on the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court against the release of the remaining Priority Development Assistance Funds of lawmakers for 2013 and the Malampaya funds.
Four said they support President Benigno Aquino’s call for the abolition of the PDAF, while three others had mixed views on the matter.
Rep. Evelio Leonardia (Bacolod) and Rep. Leo Rafael Cueva (Neg. Occ., 2nd District) said they signed a manifesto supporting the position of the House leadership and the President’s call for the abolition of the pork barrel, and the need to promote transparency and accountability in government.
Cueva said the majority of the neophytes in Congress, including himself, had already signed a manifesto that supports the call of the President to abolish the PDAF.
Leonardia said that when the President announced much earlier the suspension of the release of the PDAF, that was it.
“In the Lower House, as well as in the Senate, the move to abolish the present PDAF system has snowballed. So, the Supreme Court TRO may somewhat be considered as academic,” he said.
“But what I would like to see in our government is that the lines should be drawn clearly to maintain the time-honored principle of the equality and independence of executive, legislative and the judicial branches. Let us treat the PDAF issue with an all-out investigation and bring those who abused it to justice,” he added.
Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) said the TRO is unnecessary because the President has already suspended the PDAF implementation. Plus, it’s bordering on the intervention of congressional authority of appropriation, he added.
Rep. Alejandro Mirasol (Neg. Occ., 5th District) said he supports the position of Aquino on the PDAF but its abrupt abolition will affect P6 million in assistance to 3,000 scholars in the fifth district, P3 million in hospitalization help, and feeding programs.
Rep. Mercedes Alvarez (Neg. Occ., 6th District) said “We respect the issuance of a TRO although I disagree with it for several reasons. The 2013 PDAF is incorporated in the 2013 GAA which has the force and effect of a law and must be implemented by the executive department. This decision will be tested if it is a probable violation of the principle of separation of powers embodied in the Constitution,” she said.
Rep. Julio Ledesma IV (Neg. Occ., 1st District) said, “I will inform our stakeholders, seek their pleasure and act accordingly.”
Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer (Neg. Occ., 4th District) said he had not read the entire text of the SC order yet, so his comment is limited only to the effect of the TRO. “We have to respect the TRO and wait for the final resolution of the issue. We just hope that the SC will expedite the resolution of the case,” he said.
Meanwhile, neophyte congressmen Leonardia and Cueva, in the manifesto they signed, said they are one with the Filipino people in expressing their outrage over the scandalous revelations in the Janet Napoles investigation and the Commission on Audit report.
“There can be no excuses for this kind of abuse, and the appropriate steps must be taken to make accountable those involved and to ensure that this travesty will not be repeated,” they said.
They said they are particularly incensed that the actions of the public officials involved in these scams have besmirched the integrity of institutions, like the House of Representatives, and has undone years of honest work by their more upright colleagues.
They called for the fair and speedy investigation, prosecution and conviction of those responsible for the plunder of the PDAF.
The neophyte solons also expressed their continuing commitment to the President’s push for inclusive growth.*CPG