ANGELES CITY – A militant group said yesterday that some P11.6 billion allocated by the Arroyo administration as relief and rehabilitation funds in the aftermath of typhoon Ondoy in 2009 has remained intact and should now be used for victims of typhoon Pedring.
The fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya ) also urged Pres. Aquino, who is in Japan on official visit, to release what remains of his P68 billion pork barrel funds to help victims of Pedring.
“The release of the remaining funds of P 68-B pork barrel fund is just a phone call away from Japan,” said Pamalakaya chairman Fernando Hicap.
Hicap noted that the P12-billion supplemental calamity fund was approved by Congress under Joint Resolution No. 34 in October, 2009, a month following the Ondoy calamity.
“Former Pres. Arroyo then created the Special National Public- Private Sector Reconstruction Commission to serve as overseer and implementor of the fund, with the commission being headed by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan and Cebu’s Ricardo Cardinal Vidal,” he recalled.
Hicap cited records indicating that since then, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released only P339 million or merely three percent of the total funds in 2010. The rest of the P 11.6 billion has remained with the DBM, he added.
“A total of P11 .6 billion is still intact and the DBM has no option but to release the funds so it could immediately address the wholesale need for economic relief of affected victims of typhoon Pedring,” Hicap said.
Pamalakaya also urged Pres. Aquino to also release his remaining pork barrel funds this year to fund the economic rehabilitation of farmers and fisherfolk livelihood battered by typhoon Pedring.
The group noted President Aquino has P 68-B audit free presidential pork barrel this year. “A substantial part of Aquino’s pork barrel is intact in the Office of the President and should be rechanneled to the urgent needs of farmers and fisherfolk whose livelihood were devastated by typhoon Pedring,” Hicap said.
“We challenge Pres. Aquino to declare an aboveboard status of his P 68-B pork barrel given by the Liberal Party dominated Congress last year.
Such declaration should be followed with another policy statement that says the remaining funds will be allocated to help farmers and fishermen, the main economic casualties of typhoon Pedring,” Hicap also said.
Pamalakaya, in a statement, noted that “the P68- B pork barrel fund of Aquino is within the sole discretion of the President and he can make use of the audit free funds for disaster management and economic rehabilitation.”
“The release of the remaining funds of P 68- B pork barrel fund is just a phone call away from Japan.
Why not call budget Secretary Florencio Abad and instruct him to release the funds for farmers and fisherfolk and make sure these funds will not go to farm to pocket roads which is the current trend today even under this administration ,” said Pamalakaya.