MANILA – Time to lead by example, Mr. President.

Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Friday challenged President Aquino to scrap his own Special Purpose Funds (SPF) after Aquino’s announcement that he will abolish the priority development assistance funds of lawmakers.

“The President should lead by example in this whole process, by scrapping his own Special Purpose Funds (SPF), commonly known as presidential fund, and other such lump-sum funds sourced from revenue from some government agencies or government-owned and controlled corporations,” Ejercito said in a statement.

“It will be beneficial for President Aquino if he shows sincerity by leading the way in effecting changes for the benefit of our nation,” he added.

Ejercito issued the statement following Aquino’s announcement that he is now in favor of abolishing the existing pork barrel system since it remains prone to corruption.

The senator urged the President to take action by filing cases against those linked to the plunder of government funds “using as immediate basis the [Commission on Audit] Special Audit Report covering 2007-2009.”

He also urged Aquino to form an independent commission that will dig deeper, file cases and pursue people accused of government fund misuse. He said the independent commission should not be from Malacanang, Senate or House of Representatives, but a group of individuals “who have a sterling reputation of fighting for the interest of our people.”

He also asked the President to totally scrap the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the national budget for 2014.

“It is not enough, if you would ask majority of the Filipino, to just temporarily suspend the PDAF,” he said.

“The President prepares our national budget, it is also proper for him to lead by example by removing PDAF in the national budget. It is fitting to join our President in this significant action that will remove the doubts in the minds of our fellow citizens.”

“The budget that will be saved from PDAF can be reallocated to local government units (LGUs) in their housing and classroom projects.”

In a press briefing, the President said he is proposing a system where lawmakers can still propose certain projects for their constituents but this time with several restrictions.

There will be a menu that proposed projects should conform with and allocation for the approved projects will now appear in the national budget or the General Appropriations Act as line item, starting in 2014.

Health services, scholarships, and livelihood projects are among projects that may still be allowed.

“Sisiguruhin kong bawat mamamayan at sektor ay makakakuha ng patas na bahagi ng pambansang budget para sa serbisyong pangkalusugan, scholarship, proyektong lumilikha ng kabuhayan, at lokal na imprastruktura. Makakapagmungkahi ng proyekto ang inyong mga mambabatas, ngunit kailangan itong idaan sa proseso ng pagbubuo ng budget,” Aquino said.

Aquino said funds can no longer be funneled through NGOs and certain GOCCs, saying they had been used as instruments for corruption. The President also wants the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) and its subsidiary, ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC), abolished.

Consumable soft projects such as fertilizers and medicines will no longer be allowed, as well as short-term infrastructure projects such as dredging, desilting, regravelling, or asphalt overlay projects.

Lawmakers can only propose projects for their respective districts or constituents.

Reacting to a call of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile to abolish lump sump funds as well, President Aquino said there are funds that could be difficult to itemize such as the calamity and contingency fund.…

“In principle, maganda nga sana ‘yon kaya lang, kunwari calamity fund, ano. Paano mo i-a-itemize at the beginning of the year ‘yung paggagastusan ‘nung calamity fund dahil wala pa ‘yung bagyo, ‘di ba? Wala pa ‘yung lindol, wala kung ano man ‘yung sakuna, ‘di ba?” he said.

“‘Yung contingency fund kaya nga tinawag na contingency dahil hindi… Hindi pwedeng i-program ‘yung pangyayaring ‘yon. ‘Yung pagha-hire natin, for instance, ng teachers—about 30,000 na kakulangan ng DepEd—hindi pa naman matukoy, iha-hire mo pa lang, so hindi mo pwedeng i-itemize ‘yon.” With a report by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News