Press Release
October 19, 2013

'Unconditional surrender of PDAF, no-strings-attached waiver of funds'

My proposal to use the unreleased portion of the Priority Development Assistance Fund for post-disaster rehabilitation work in Cebu, Bohol, Zamboanga City and Typhoon Santi-damaged areas covers amounts earmarked for senators only.

As to the House members' allotments from PDAF, it is up to them to determine its usage, in the event the judicial restraining order on their disbursement is lifted.

The reality on the ground is that congressional constituencies have many unfunded needs. As a matter of courtesy, we should recognize their right to choose where to apply the funds which the General Appropriations Act entitles them to. Poverty, for one, is a continuing state of calamity which can be partly alleviated by the judicious use of funds.

But as to the balance of the senators' PDAF, my proposal is for senators to give them all up, to the last centavo, and turn them over to the people and places hit by the triple tragedies.

In my view, senators should have no say on where, how and when it will be spent. It can be called an unconditional surrender of these allocations, or a no-strings-attached waiver of funds. It will be up to Malacanang to write on the blank checks. No attribution needed. No epal required.

Our only request is that disbursements be announced publicly and the details of fund releases posted in various government websites.

We will also be urging the implementing agencies in receipt of the scuttled PDAF to speed up, but without short circuiting the rules, the delivery of aid to victims and the reconstruction of their communities.

Allotment delayed is aid denied. The national government should explore expedited forms of procurement, like emergency purchases, which will comply with all laws but will result in faster delivery of relief goods and rehabilitation materials.

As one would not haggle with the price of a water hose when his neighbor's house is on fire, this government should not take the circuitous route of posting invitation to bid notices and holding lengthy pre-bid conferences for foodstuff meant for people who have not eaten for days.

It can begin with the chartering of private helicopters so that an airlift of water, food and medicine to isolated and inaccessible Bohol towns can be started.

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