MANILA, Philippines — Two party-list lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc clarified that no budget for infrastructure projects were removed from their offices because they did not propose projects for 2018.
“Since my first term in Congress in 2013 and until now I did not partake of any pork barrel type congressional allocation in pursuance of our advocacy against patronage politics and the pork barrel system,” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said.
In a separate statement, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said that consistent with the stand of the Makabayan bloc against the pork barrel system, the seven party-list lawmakers have no infrastructure projects.
“We submitted no proposals for infrastructure projects. As far as we’re concerned, there’s nothing to ‘zero’,” Tinio said.
At least 24 House members will not get infrastructure projects in the 2018 budget. Except the seven Makabayan party-list lawmakers, the rest of the 24 have proposed projects but were defunded before the signing of the budget into law.
Zarate said this indicate that “the pork barrel system is still alive and the loopholes in the 2013 SC decision on PDAF are being used to make this porky habit still thrive in our political system.”
“Only the style and name have changed but it is still the old patronage-driven pork barrel system,” he added.
In 2013, the Supreme Court abolished the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the pork barrel, which has allegedly become a source of corruption for some politicians.
Tinio said that despite assurances that the 2018 budget was “pork-free,” the reports about the zero infrastructure budget showed that the House leadership “has resorted to defunding the infrastructure projects of certain legislators as punishment for not toeing the administration line.”
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, one of those who will get zero project questioned the move to defund the project when it has already been approved by Congress.
“We will not take this sitting down. I will go to the courts and to the streets if necessary, I will rally my constituents and expose the arrogance of the House leadership,” he said.
He said it is the eight million people in his congressional district who will suffer with the deletion of the infrastructure projects.
” I will fight to the last drop of my blood before the courts and on the streets if necessary to protect the 8 million Filipinos who will be benefitting from the projects,” he said.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said he received reports that in his district, even the fund for river control projects was scrapped
“Accordingly, maintenance daw lang ang meron. Eh sa amin, puro landslides kasi bundok that’s why maraming mga slope protection and riprap. So if removed, it makes our roads not dangerous, buhay ang apektado,” Baguilat said.