By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Kremlin Montenegro
MANILA, Philippines- The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) asked Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad to release the P 12-B unspent Ondoy funds for relief and rehabilitation efforts concerning victims of typhoon Pedring.
In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said Secretary Abad has no reason to "hostage" the P 12-B unused Ondoy funds, saying the 100,000 people displaced by typhoon Pedring all over Luzon badly needs urgent relief assistance and economic rehabilitation.
"Secretary Abad should let the unspent P 12-B Ondoy funds go to urgent and strategic plans for economic relief and rehabilitation. The DBM should not hostage these funds intended for such purpose," Hicap noted.
The Pamalakaya leader said of the P 12-B Ondoy funds approved by Congress in 2009 for rehabilitation, the DBM only released P 339 million or merely 3 percent of the total budget allocation in 2010.
"To be specific, a total of P 11.6 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 likewise dared President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to 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. The fisherfolk leader believed 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.
“We challenge President Aquino to declare an aboveboard status of his P 68-B pork barrel given by the Liberal Party dominated Congress last year. And such declaration shall 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,”Pamalakaya said.
The group said the P 68-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.