By Trinity Biglang Awa, Handog Malaya Vera and Gerry Albert Corpuz
MANILA, Philippines-Former President now Pampanga 2nd district Rep.is the real luckiest bitch in the world, as her district got P 2.2 B in total pork barrel funds for infrastructure projects, way and above the P 50-million alloted for other congressmen.
But critics of both President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and his predecessor Rep. Arroyo said the P 2 billion pork barrel alloted to the latter was a “reconciliation deal” between Aquino and Mrs. Arroyo
"President Aquino is actually courting Mrs. Arroyo to bury the political differences between him and Arroyo through the pork barrel mode. It is actually a budget for political reconciliation, a P 2-B worth of hard-earned taxpayers’ money to convince Mrs. Arroyo to smoke the peace pipe with Mr.Aquino,” said the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya in a press statement.
To partly close the gap, Malacanang and the House of Representatives have agreed to realign a minimum of P 1.2 billion from lump sums in the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) proposed P 90-billion budget for 2011 to ensure that five lawmakers get an allocation from the P 1.65 trillion proposed national budget next year.
“Instead of pursuing the case People of the Philippines vs. former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Aquino ruling clique in Malacanang is pre-occupied in courting GMA in exchange for her political support to Aquino and associates," said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.
Hicap added: "We believe the P 2.2 B pork barrel award to Arroyo will give us a preview on what will happen to the criminal and civil cases filed against the former president in the Office of the Ombudsman and other different courts."
In January this year, Pamalakaya filed a plunder case before the Office of the Ombudsman against former President Arroyo in connection with the P 455 million ice making machines, which the group said was overpriced by 100 percent per unit or by P 2.3 million per unit.
The government bought 98 units for nearly half a million pesos, and the Department of Agriculture (DA) until now has yet to identify the areas where these machines are supposed to be distributed. Charged with Arroyo were former agriculture secretary and now Bohol 3rd district Rep. Arthur Yap, officials of the bids and awards committee of DA and officers of National Agribusiness Council (NABCOR).