SC RULE: PDAF, MALAMPAYA FUND USE UNCONSTITUTIONAL

The high court also nullifies “all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel laws, such as the previous PDAF and Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which authorize/d legislators-whether individually or collectively organized into committees—to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution.”

ALSO: House mulls realignment of remaining PDAF as calamity fund

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said Tuesday that the remaining PDAF, a euphemism for “pork barrel” funds, will now directly go to the national treasury. Belmonte said the House would study legal measures to still be able to use the funds for the victims of super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name Haiyan).

ALSO: Not enough funds for rehabilitation

With the coastal town of Tacloban prone to storm surges, Abad said it may be “irresponsible” for the government if it forces the residents of Tacloban to rebuild their homes in the same area. Part of the reconstruction involves building storm-resistant buildings, including schools and hospitals, according to Abad. “This means additional cost entailed for fortifying the schools especially those public places bound to be destinations of evacuees,” he said.

ALSO: Amado Macasaet:  Disaster and politics

By mishandling the situation, we shamed ourselves with foreign governments and donors. CNN said there was no civil defense system in the Philippines. If there was, we never saw it in Tacloban. The President tries to be on top of the situation by staying in Tacloban until the situation becomes normal. What is the President doing there? Distributing food bags and commiserating with the victims. Good politics, Mr. President.

SC RULE: PDAF, MALAMPAYA FUND USE UNCONSTITUTIONAL


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MANILA, NOVEMBER 20, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Tetch Torres-Tupas - Voting 14-0, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declared as unconstitutional the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel.”

In the decision authored by Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe, the high court declared as unconstitutional the entire 2013 PDAF.

The high court also nullifies “all legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel laws, such as the previous PDAF and Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which authorize/d legislators-whether individually or collectively organized into committees—to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution.”

At the same time, the high court also nullified the laws that provided lawmakers lump-sum allocations to fund their chosen projects.

“All informal practices of similar import and effect, which the Court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of discretion,” are also declared void.

“Accordingly the Court’s temporary injunction dated Sept. 10, 2013 is hereby declared to be permanent. Thus, the disbursement/release of the remaining PDAF funds allocated for the year 2013, as well as for all previous years…are hereby enjoined,” the high court said.

The high court ordered the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate and file the needed cases against all government officials as well as private individuals involved in the improper disbursement of PDAF.

Among those who separately petitioned the court to scrap the PDAF system are losing senatorial candidates Samson Alcantara and Greco Belgica.

Petitioners pointed out that the system on discretionary funds of both Congress and Malacañang violated the constitutional limits given to the executive and the legislative because they were able to spend money beyond what was approved by Congress “since these are lump sum funds.”

On the other hand, the government through the Office of the Solicitor General said the high court has upheld the constitutionality of the PDAF system in previous cases, including LAMP vs. DBM.

House mulls realignment of remaining PDAF as calamity fund By Nestor Corrales INQUIRER.net 3:05 pm | Tuesday, November 19th, 2013


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House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is studying measures to realign the remaining Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as a calamity fund after the Supreme Court (SC) declared it unconstitutional.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said Tuesday that the remaining PDAF, a euphemism for “pork barrel” funds, will now directly go to the national treasury.

Belmonte said the House would study legal measures to still be able to use the funds for the victims of super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name Haiyan).

Belmonte said they would look into filing a supplemental budget., adding that he still needs to have the copy of the SC decision to assess the grounds imposed by the highest court in declaring PDAF as unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone expressed his disappointment on the SC decision. Evardone said the news will greatly affect the “Yolanda victims” and said the SC should have delayed its decision amid the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Visayas.

FROM MANILA BULLETIN

Not enough funds for rehabilitation DBM Chief Eyes More Loans, Grants, Restructuring Of 2014 Budget by Genalyn Kabiling November 19, 2013 (updated)


A survivor of Typhoon Haiyan builds a new house from the remnants of his previous one in the eastern Samar costal village of Hernani November 18, 2013. The Philippines is facing up to an enormous rebuilding task from Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 3,681 people and left 1,186 missing, with many isolated communities yet to receive significant aid despite a massive international relief effort. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

MANILA - Budget Secretary Florencio Abad yesterday said the government’s fiscal space may not be sufficient to finance the rebuilding efforts in communities devastated by super-typhoon “Yolanda.”

To address the situation, Abad said the government is planning to seek more loans and grants to augment its meager resources for the massive rehabilitation of devastated areas.

Anticipating huge cost to repair and rehabilitate disaster-hit areas, Abad said the government also intends to restructure the proposed 2014 national budget, including the possible increase in the calamity funds, to meet the rebuilding needs.

“I was just reading an update on Fukushima. They are just celebrating their second anniversary and to this day, they still have about 300,000 people who don’t have shelters, who don’t have residences, so that tells you about the magnitude and the length of time that it takes to meet these needs,” Abad said in a Palace press briefing.

Loans, Grants Eyed

“Definitely, if we have to rely on the fiscal space that the government generates every year, that may not be enough so we may have to look at tapping donors as well as reasonable loan packages from bilateral and multilateral resources,” he added.

At present, Abad said it was still difficult to say how much loans, and other funds must be generated because concerned government agencies are still assessing the requirements for rehabilitation and reconstruction in Yolanda-hit areas.

Still, Abad recognized the enormous and costly task of rehabilitation of the calamity areas, including the possible resettlement of families living in disaster-prone areas as well as construction of storm-resistant schools and other public buildings.

Rehab Cost: Over $1B

He added that the rehabilitation bill will be “so much more than” the $1 billion in total loans offered by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to finance the rehabilitation of disaster-hit areas.

“Suffice it to say that it will be huge and I think our current resources may not be enough through time to meet all of them,” Abad said.

For now, Abad said the government has P12-billion savings as well as P2 billion calamity and contingency funds that can be used to bankroll relief and recovery efforts.

A portion of the P130-billion Malampaya funds may also be tapped for the power restoration efforts in the calamity areas, according to Abad.

There is also P6.4 billion left in the President’s Social Fund that can be utilized for the rebuilding plans, he added.

Foreign assistance to disaster-hit Philippines, on the other hand, has also reached P11 billion so far.

Restructuring Budget

Although the assessment of the rehabilitation cost is still underway, Abad also announced that they will look at the possibility of restructuring the 2014 budget bill to determine the extent of adjustments in the programmed and unprogrammed funds.

Under the budget proposal for next year, Abad admitted that the proposed P7.5-billion calamity fund will not be enough. “We will have to reconsider that double it or triple it but it really depends on where we can draw the space to increase the budget for the calamity fund,” he said.

Abad said there is also a proposal to establish a rehabilitation and reconstruction fund for the Yolanda damage. “That is something that we are looking at and see how we can put this in the budget and at the same time, introduce qualifications so that its use can be undertaken with greater facility rather than, you know, going through the procurement difficulties,” he said.

Abad recalled that in the case of typhoon “Pablo,” the government took some time before it completed the assessment of the damage and rehabilitation requirements of the devastated towns.

“I don’t think that the budget process can wait for that assessment to come, so therefore we do have to inject flexibilities within the programmed appropriations and anticipate in the unprogrammed appropriations how much more funds do we need or will come in by way of soft loans or by grants that will be given to the country that will be used for rehabilitation and reconstruction,” Abad said.

He said the Cabinet will meet soon to tackle the funding requirements for the rehabilitation of disaster-hit areas.

Restoring Tacloban

“This will not just be a question of repairing or restoring because in some places like Tacloban City, there is a question of how you organize the resettlement of this city. Will you go back to the old way that it was organized or is there going to be a change?” Abad said.

With the coastal town of Tacloban prone to storm surges, Abad said it may be “irresponsible” for the government if it forces the residents of Tacloban to rebuild their homes in the same area.

Part of the reconstruction involves building storm-resistant buildings, including schools and hospitals, according to Abad. “This means additional cost entailed for fortifying the schools especially those public places bound to be destinations of evacuees,” he said.

No Politicking

Meanwhile, Abad assured that there is no politicking in the relief efforts of the government in typhoon-hit areas.

Abad said politicking is not President Aquino’s focus, especially with the aftermath of “Yolanda.”

Photos on the social media circulated showing relief packs with yellow ribbon logo, which is known to be President Aquino’s logo when he was still campaigning for Presidency in 2010.

Yellow Ribbon

Abad, however, denied that those relief packs with the yellow ribbon logo were distributed to victims of Yolanda.

“Ang buhay sa bansa hindi nawawala ang pulitika,” he said. [Our life in this country can never be without politics.]

“There’s really no truth to that,” Abad said. “The color of the Liberal Party (LP) is red, white and blue.”

Abad also stressed that the President is concentrating on the relief efforts and not on politics.

“The President is concerned, he is thoroughly preoccupied with search and rescue relief efforts,” he said.

“Politics have no place in the situation we have right now… There is no space in the President’s mind about that,” he added.

Abad likewise said the administration welcomes “constructive criticisms and suggestions” but the government would like “to concentrate on the gargantuan work before us.” (With a report from Madel Sabater Namit)

FROM MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHT

Disaster and politics MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHT BY AMADO MACASAET

President Aquino committed to stay a while longer in disaster-stricken Tacloban City and its environs. He said he would not leave until he personally sees everything has been done and done well.

The Chief Executive was seen on television distributing bags of food to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. We thought that he should stay in some command post ordering his people to do their jobs of burying the dead, feeding the hungry and clothing them.

They are doing it with dispatch of sorts at this time. We still cannot understand why there is a 10-kilometer long line of trucks carrying food to be brought by ships to the hungry in the devastated areas.

The official reason is there are not enough vessels to load the food on. Strangely, we have not heard whether or not the LSTs (landing ship transport) of the Philippine Navy have been used to ease the food truck traffic. One LST, according to a retired navy officer, can carry as many as 15 truckloads. Why not use them?

The whole story is 10 days after the killer-typhoon ravaged Eastern Visayas, particularly Leyte, and more specifically Tacloban, the stench of decaying cadavers continues to offend not just the nose but the sensibilities of government officials particularly the President.

There is political color in the President handing bags of food to the victims. He is wasting precious executive time that should otherwise be spent in planning the speedy distribution of relief goods.

We have been told that there is an order to repack donations in bags marked “DSWD.” Clearly, the idea is to make it appear that government is in control and doing what it can.

There are donors who want their identities known. That dubious honor was denied them. Which ignores the reality that the victims do not really care who provides the relief goods such as water, medicine, clothes on the backs and shelter.

But first clear the place of the stench of rotting cadavers.

There is a tinge of politics in tapping DILG Secretary Mar Roxas to take charge after the devastation. The President obviously wants Roxas to earn political points in preparation for his candidacy as president in 2016. Roxas failed, not the President, but the typhoon victims. The blame game began.

The President shamed Roxas by replacing him. P-Noy is now the boss of all bosses in the job of putting food in empty stomachs. But some people are still hungry and desperate.

The mishandling of the problem has many faces. First, the President blames media for reporting what they see, hear and smell. That is factual. It should occur to him that foreign and local media are doing their jobs in their best lights.

It just so happens that their best lights are not exactly to the liking of the President. In fact the President constantly gripes against media. Little does he understand that one of the most serious threats to democracy is when media and the state come to terms.

By and large, media has been supportive of the President. We do not doubt the sincerity of his purpose. We can see the result in the growth of the economy.

At the same time, we also began to see what to us is the ineptness of his government in dealing with a natural disaster like Yolanda.

That’s what we in media never failed to report. Foreign media is even more scurrilous. The President found a defender in a TV newscaster who just happens to the wife of Roxas. We believe we have been fair in reporting the facts.

We cannot believe that the government acted decisively on the crisis. The effort was uncoordinated at the start.

The living or dead proof are decaying cadavers, hunger and a possible outbreak of a disease of epidemic proportions.

We are not engaged in a blame game. It just so happens that we thought that the warning to the people to leave their homes because a killer typhoon was coming did not look convincing enough.

The government did not provide shelter where the people can go to escape physical harm. Never mind the destruction of their homes. Neither was there assurance that the government would provide food in the places where the people may go to if they heeded the warning of government.

By mishandling the situation, we shamed ourselves with foreign governments and donors. CNN said there was no civil defense system in the Philippines. If there was, we never saw it in Tacloban.

The President tries to be on top of the situation by staying in Tacloban until the situation becomes normal. What is the President doing there? Distributing food bags and commiserating with the victims. Good politics, Mr. President.

But why is there 10-kilometer traffic from Matnog in Surigao to the piers?

* * * *

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