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Congress ratifies 'PDAF-less but not porkless' P2.246-trillion nat'l budget
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- Congress on Monday ratified the proposed P2.264-trillion national budget for 2014, making it ready for the signature of President Benigno Aquino III before the end of the year.

The chief executive will sign the new budget on December 20, according to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

While no longer containing the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers, the new budget remains ladden with "pork," this time at the sole disposal of the President, according to critics. 

Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares said the total "presidential pork" amounts to P1.254 trillion, which included the P14.6-billion supplemental budget from the 2013 funds, and some P445.4 billion savings from the 2012 appropriations.

"The P1.25 trillion pork barrel for the President, which includes the off budget funds and his Cabinet, certainly dwarfs the P25 billion PDAF," he said.

Colmenares said the congressional bicameral conference body should have asserted its power over the budget by insisting that Aquino itemize these lump sums.

"Now these funds are open to corruption or patronage politics in the run off to the 2016 elections.We should not allow ourselves to be a rubber stamp of the executive," the lawmaker said. 

Congress earlier removed the P25.2 billion PDAF item and channeled P22 billion to various agencies.  The P3.2 billion was deducted from the total amount of the proposed budget.  This represented the PDAF of 15
senators and the pork barrel of Vice President Jejomar Binay, which they said they would no longer touch amid controversy over the alleged misuse of billions of pork barrel.

The ratified measure contains a P100-billion fund for reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas destroyed by typhoons, the siege in Zamboanga City, and the earthquake in Cebu and Bohol.

Of the P110 billion, P20 billion is under the programmed funds, while the P80 billion will be under the unprogrammed funds.

Programmed appropriations are supported by corresponding sources. Unprogrammed appropriations are not yet supported by funding sources.

These are standby appropriations, which authorize additional agency expenditures for priority programs and projects in excess of the original budget, but only when revenue collections exceed  the resource targets assumed in the budget or when additional foreign project loan proceeds are realized.

Colmenares said the bulk of the P1.254-trillion "presidential pork" came from, among others, the Malampaya Fund (P132 billion); 2012 savings (P445 billion); Special Purpose Funds (P423.14 billion); and, programs with huge amounts lodged in different department budgets  (164.7 billion).