25 August 2014
Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (09209220817)
Tinio reveals list of government personnel assigned for solons’ illegal pork
LUNETA, MANILA—ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio has released a list of government employees in three national agencies assigned to facilitate the funding requests of members of the House of Representatives for scholarships, medical assistance, and emergency employment.
According to Tinio, the list of so-called “focal persons,” consisting of names and contact numbers of government employees of the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Health, and Department of Labor and Employment, was distributed to House members on April 22, 2014. “It’s another proof that President Aquino is secretly and illegally distributing pork to legislators despite the Supreme Court ruling declaring pork as unconstitutional.”
Some P20.7 billion of the funds formerly known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2014 General Appropriations Act were realigned to six national government agencies. Of these, CHED got P4.1 billion for its scholarship program, DOH got P3 billion for medical assistance to indigent patients, and DOLE got P1 billion for its emergency employment programs (known as TUPAD and GIP). The Department of Social Welfare got P4 billion for its Crisis Intervention Program while TESDA got P1 billion for its skills training program. The Department of Public Works and Highways got P7.3 billion for various local infrastructure projects. Officially, these agencies maintain that legislators have no say in the use of these funds.
However, Tinio alleges that the Aquino administration secretly allows these funds to be used as personal discretionary funds of members of the House of Representatives, a practice declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. “Specifically, the funds in CHED, DOH, DOLE, TESDA, and DSWD are further subdivided into individual lump sums for House members, with P14 million each from CHED, P10.5 million from DOH, P3.5 million from DOLE and from TESDA, and P14 million from DSWD. These personal lump sums are to be disbursed at the discretion of each House member, who alone decides to whom and how much of the funds will go.”
“Having been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, allowing members of Congress to access pork is not officially acknowledged. There are no written policies, guidelines, memoranda, or orders admitting that it goes on. Hence, Cabinet officials have had to hold face-to-face meetings with House members to explain that they can access their personal discretionary lump sums through so-called focal persons. These are government employees in their respective agencies who are tasked with facilitating the funding requests of congressmen and congresswomen,” explained Tinio. “Fortunately, we have been able to document some of these meetings and the unofficial documents that these agencies have given out to House members.”
According to the list released by Tinio, CHED’s focal persons include Director for Student Development and Services Isabel Inlayo, three of her staff, and its 16 regional directors. Also assigned as contact persons are DOLE’s regional directors (for district representatives) and Nenita Garcia, the Director of Financial Management Service (for party-list representatives). As for DOH, hospital staff are assigned to accommodate solons’ referred beneficiaries for each of the 136 DOH-retained and specialty hospitals covered by the MAP. Added Tinio: “These hospital personnel report to DOH Undersecretary Janette Garin, who is in charge of the medical assistance pork, officially known as the Medical Health Care Assistance Program (MCAP), and later renamed as the Medical Assistance Program (MAP).” (Please see attached list.)
Tinio denounced President Aquino for forcing these civil servants to take part in unconstitutional and illegal acts. “For the sake of maintaining the system of political patronage, Aquino is suborning these employees to commit acts already declared illegal by the Supreme Court.”
The list is one of the pieces of evidence attached to the fourth impeachment complaint which Tinio filed against Aquino on August 11 along with 15 other complainants including National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera and leaders of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers. The House leadership refused to refer it to the Justice Committee along with three other valid complaints on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
Also included as evidence is the audio recording of a closed-door meeting held by the House Committee on Appropriations where CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said “I know it [referral of scholars by solons] was supposed to be illegal, dapat wala na but actually meron pa” and “I am also dealing and accepting the political reality that this is PDAF.” Another recording is of a meeting between Undersecretary Garin and several House members and their staff where the former assured the latter that “the decision of the Department is to do away with all walk-in patients because in the first place it was made clear to us that these funds are not DOH funds but are actually funds of Congressmen who are there to assist their constituents.”
“It is obvious that both the President and Congress cannot be trusted to respect and obey the law against pork barrel,” said Tinio. “The Supreme Court already declared as illegal pork the PDAF and any scheme like it where the President dangles funds as a carrot and stick to control Congress. President Aquino is lying to the people and committing illegal acts.”
“It is now up to the people to themselves enact a law that will criminalize the inclusion and approval of discretionary lump sum funds like PDAF and DAP in the national budget. This is the very reason why thousands of Filipinos today converge here at Luneta—to sign up for the genuine abolition of the pork barrel system. We want to put an end to a system that allows public funds to be used as though they were the personal funds of public officials.”
One year after it hosted the historic Million People’s March, Luneta will again serve as an anti-pork site, this time for Stand Up, Sign Up!, an activity held by the People’s Initiative Against Pork (PIAP) to gather signatures for the proposed law entitled “An Act Abolishing the Pork Barrel System.” If enacted, the people’s initiative bill will criminalize the proposal and approval in any budget law of any form of pork barrel funds. ###