MALACAÑANG GETS P12 BILLION IN 'PORK'

MANILA, DECEMBER 18, 2010 (TIMES) By Ruben D. Manahan 4th Reporter - A member of the minority bloc at the House of Representatives on Friday said that Malacañang will receive an estimated P11- to P12-billion worth of social funds as a result of realignments in the 2011 national budget.

Rep. Milagros Magsaysay of the First District of Zambales—a member of the Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD)—said that the Palace is set to get the money once the P21-billion fund for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program is distributed next year.

“It [savings] will reach more than P11 to 12 billion,” Magsaysay added, explaining that former President and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of the Second District of Pampanga only spent P10 billion for the program last year.

According to Magsaysay, the P83-million budget that was allotted for the Truth Commission, which was recently ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, will also go to Malacañang.

The lawmaker said that annual earnings of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) will further increase the national savings next year.

Magsaysay added that increasing the “presidential pork” might have been the motive of the administration allies when they did not approve the colatilla, or safety provisions, during the ratification of the CCT’s budget.

“The mere fact that the [House of Representatives] put the colatilla, I’m sure everybody knows about that [presidential pork]. Perhaps they saw that the disbursement of money for [the] CCT is not that transparent,” she said.

“Maybe, that [increasing the savings] has been their [allies of President Aquino] rationale” in allowing the colatilla’s approval all along, the legislator added. “When you say savings, the President can realign it anywhere.”

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. earlier addressed some of Magsaysay’s remarks—her calling for the Truth Commission’s budget to be realigned, for example—by assuring that it will be subject to that.

“If there will be no Truth Commission, it [the realignment of its fund for social services such as health and education] will eventually happen,” Belmonte said during a recent press conference.

But Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, also earlier said that the Truth Commission’s budget will remain untouched because the High Court’s decision is not yet final and executory. With report from Llanesca T. Panti


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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