Press Release
May 25, 2006


Instead of merely scrapping the P5 billion Kilos Asenso Support Fund and the P3.69 billion Kalayaan Barangay Program Fund under the proposed 2006 national budget, they should be realigned and used to augment the appropriations of departments or agencies that need more funds to improve their delivery of essential services to the people.

This was proposed today by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) as he threw his full support behind the recommendation of the Senate finance committee, chaired by Sen. Manuel Villar, to delete the two pork barrel items to be disbursed through the Office of the President.

Pimentel identified the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Bureau of Fisheries among the agencies to which the Kilos Asenso Fund and Kalayaan Barangay Fund can be transferred.

It is better not just to completely do away with the Kilos Asenso Fund and Kalayaan Barangay Fund. Instead of just doing that, my suggestion is to realign some amount for the use of certain agencies like the DOST, DSWD and BFAR, he said.

In making the proposal, Pimentel said we would like to eliminate the possibility of these funds being used for partisan politics.

That is the main thing we do not want to happen. But at the same time, we want to ensure that certain needs of some departments and agencies to serve our people more directly would also be addressed.

The Kilos Asenso Fund and Kalayaan Barangay Fund were stricken off the budget bill by the finance committee after being convinced that they are slush funds that are intended to buy support of members of Congress and local government executives for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the light of renewed efforts to unseat her on account of scandals that have rocked her administration, as well as the unresolved issue of her legitimacy.

Explaining why additional funds should be infused into the DOST, Pimentel said this department has the lowest budgetary allocation such that it has very weak financial capability to provide subsidy to Filipino inventors.

He bewailed that the Philippines ranked 58th on scientific infrastructure and 37th on technological infrastructure in the survey of 61 nations appearing in the recently-released 2006 World Competitiveness Yearbook published by the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development.

He stressed that research and development should be strengthened to enable the Philippines to catch up with industrially-advanced and countries.

Pimentel said the DSWD needs additional funding to cope with the needs of victims of past and future calamities, including rehabilitation of their houses and livelihood.

On supplemental funding for the BFAR, Pimentel is proposing the allocation of P60 million for the setting up of fish hatcheries for aquaculture in selected regions and P30 million for infrastructure for seaweeds and abalone culture in selected coastal communities in Mindanao.

He said the infusion of funds for these projects will help subsistence fishermen increase their income and boost the countrys food security in the light of alarming incidence of hunger among marginalized Filipinos.

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