Press Release
January 18, 2010

Slashed PDAF may find way into admin's election kitty - Loren

Senator Loren Legarda questioned today President Arroyo as to where the cuts in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of the proposed P1.51 trillion 2010 national budget will go.

 "I am hoping that the cuts will not find themselves into the campaign kitty or the war chest of the administration candidates in the May elections," said Loren.

 "We must be vigilant against any juggling of funds. We cannot allow hard-earned taxpayers' money to be used to get administration bets elected," she stressed.

 Loren said that the so-called fertilizer fund scam, involving the apparent use of public funds to prop the candidacy of administration candidates in the past, does not "invite confidence" in the outgoing administration.

"As much as I would want to give this administration the benefit of the doubt, I cannot because of its 'track record' when it comes to elections," she said.

 "People can read between the lines of what I'm saying," Loren added.

 At the same time, Loren challenged Malacañang to cut its version of the PDAF to show sincerity in whittling down the national budget.

 "Budgetary cuts are not bad per se, as long as they are justified and the cuts do not result to our people being deprived of services, like healthcare, livelihood assistance and access to education.

" Loren said that the cuts in the PDAF is not the only issue, but also the practice of the administration to withhold or hijack the PDAF of districts whose representatives were critical of the President.

 She pointed out that while the bicameral committee that reconciled the 2010 General Appropriations Act (GAA) put a provision that would make it difficult for the President to bar the release of the PDAF, she said that the President can always resort to the use of her line-item veto power.

 "The power to impound the PDAF of districts seen critical of the administration had been done before and I do not see this administration stopping now. We must look into the law, Presidential Decree 1177, on which the impounding of PDAF had been based," said Loren.

 At the heart of the issue on the slashing of the PDAF was the P9.6 billion in PDAF which congressmen included in the 2010 GAA.

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