24 August 2013

Statement of Sen JV Ejercito on Scrapping PDAF


As a newly elected senator of the Republic, I feel sorry, and it really bothers me, to witness our nation being embroiled in an anomaly involving the use of government funds. This issue does not only drag down the image of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and Malacanang, but the entire system of governance as a whole.

At this juncture, the function of our President plays an important role in giving direction to where this will all go. The President can end this by issuing a vital decision that mirrors the voice of the people.

The President is in the best position to provide decisive action as the leader of the nation.

With his high popularity rating, President Aquino, with his ‘Tuwid na Daan’, can implement measures that can give a decisive break from the culture of corruption in governance. We should join our President in his quest to achieve a fair decision for a better tomorrow.

In this regard, I would like to recommend to President Aquino the following:

FIRST, take action for the immediate filing before the proper judicial body the case or cases against those involved in the plunder of government funds, using as immediate basis the COA Special Audit Report covering 2007-2009.

Only through this can we determine who can be judged guilty and acquit those who are innocent. We should ensure that justice will prevail with no fear or favor, and thus, uphold the interest of our people.

This is also a chance for those whose names are being dragged into the issue to state their innocence, without so much fanfare or trial by publicity.

However, those who will be found guilty should suffer the punishment, whether they be an administration ally or not, a member of the Majority or Minority.

SECOND, we should broaden the scope of the investigation into the pork barrel anomaly and not limit it to 2007-2009. It is but appropriate to widen the scope of the probe from the time frame of 2001 up to present. No sacred cows.

I recommend that the President form an INDEPENDENT COMMISSION that will be authorized and tasked to dig deeper, file cases and pursue people accused of government fund misuse.

It is also fair for everyone that this independent commission tasked to uphold the interest of the nation should not be from Malacanang, the Senate or the House of Representatives, but a group of individuals who have a sterling reputation of fighting for the interest of our people.

The investigation should also cover the livelihood projects of the TRC, the funds of government agencies such as OWWA, GSIS and SSS, the funds for the construction of farm-to-market roads and other infrastructure programs that used pork barrel funds.

In this regard, we will eventually erase the notion that justice is only for the few. The commission should be given the mandate to file cases against anyone who committed irregularities, whether he or she is an administration ally or not.

THIRD, it is better for everyone for the President to totally scrap the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from the national budget for 2014.

It is not enough, if you would ask majority of the Filipinos, to just temporarily suspend the PDAF.

The President prepares our national budget, it is also proper for him to lead by example by removing PDAF from 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.

FOURTH, 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.

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

Overall, it is not easy, the road to recovery may not be smooth but for the sake of our people, we need to bring transparency and accountability to our system of governance. We need to win back the trust of our nation. And no matter how hard this may seem, we need to take on that challenge. As is often said but not always followed: We need to travel that road less traveled!

To our fellow countrymen, let us join the President in achieving justice for everyone. Justice that will serve as the foundation for a better tomorrow. A journey that will strengthen our Republic as a nation.

Para sa Bayan,

Joseph Victor G. Ejercito
Senator, Republic of the Philippines