Tag Archives: abolish pdaf

LGBT asks for higher AIDS budget

The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay) criticized yesterday’s supposed abolition of the scandal-plagued Priority Development Assistance Fund, insisting that President Aquino in fact took control over the congressional pork barrel and intends to hide earmarks inside the National Budget itself to escape auditing. The gay advocacy group demanded an authentic total deletion of all pork barrels including much larger discretionary sums controlled by the palace, and pressed its own calls for health-oriented budget reform.

Netizens had a field day making BADAF (short for Benigno Aquino Development Assistance Fund, a coined word) go viral hours after the President’s speech. Badaf is a queer Filipino autonym popularized in a 1980s disco song “Badaf Forever” (forever gay).

“The Philippines has a rising HIV crisis where one person gets infected every two hours, yet the allocation for prevention and treatment is so paltry, just a mere P120 million of the national budget. We are so scandalized to learn that 10 billion pesos have been squandered by corruption, and that one trillion pesos more is controlled by the President for purposes that is so hard to monitor and audit” said Clyde Pumihic, ProGay spokesperson.

The group said that Congress is deaf and blind to demands to fund the conservative estimated 2.2 billion pesos annual shortfall, the amount needed to provide adequate antiretroviral drugs to the existing populations living with HIV, clean up the blood supply, hire aid workers, and provide most at-risk groups with preventive education.

“The reported pork barrel take of 10 billion siphoned off by political dynasties and scammers like Janet Napoles could have funded five years of anti-HIV efforts. We demand the government to scrap the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), allot the necessary funds for comprehensive health care, and force these plunderers to return all the money they stole,” Pumihic said.

ProGay also pushed the government to halt its ongoing privatization programs to sell off 26 government hospitals, 36 inch drawer runners, and force many other public health facilities to remove free health care for indigents. The gay rights alliance said this move makes diagnostics for sexually transmitted infections acutely unaffordable among young and unemployed transgenders and gay men, which further fuels explosive rates of transmission among vulnerable groups.

“It’s important to demand for us to keep pressing for abolishing the Palace pork, like the Malampaya fund, which by law was supposed to develop energy industry but ended up as Napoles’ chi-chi condos. The same thing might happen to the sin tax law on tobacco supposedly for health spending, that is why we need safeguards to make sure our taxes are spent on health.”

ProGay said its chapters are ready to support the different sectoral One Million March mobilizations on Monday calling for the scrapping of the pork barrel.

The Department of Health reported that 431 new HIV cases in June brought the total number of cases in the first half of 2013 to 2,323. The DOH said this was the highest incidence rate for any month, with 88 percent of the new infections attributed to sex between males.The World Health Organization tagged the Philippines as one of nine countries where reported HIV infections are increasing by more than 25 percent.

PDAF will just be a repackaged – UP community

Concerned students, faculty, staff and residents of the University of the Philippines denounced the misleading announcement of President Noynoy Aquino as regards the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

In a press conference last August 23, Aquino said that it is now time to “abolish” PDAF and put in place a new mechanism to meet the needs of the people. Members of the Senate and the House of Representatves can still recommend projects but they will have to go through the process of finalizing the national budget.

The concerned UP community members said that Aquino’s policy pronouncement is just a “sugar-coated reform of the inherently flawed pork barrel system.”

In a statement, they stressed that the PDAF will just be repackaged, “such that the Congress will be at the behest of the Department of Budget and Management and the Office of the President.”

They called for the “just distribution and rechanneling of funds to basic social services, NOT a rehashed pork barrel system that is even more vulnerable to corruption. These funds must be allocated through public agencies such as public hospitals, state universities and colleges, public schools, salary upgrading of teachers and government workers, etc. The skewed regional allocations in the proposed budget must be realigned, with sufficient allocations for neglected regions in the Visayas and in Mindanao.”

In this context, they are here for challenge coins and the need for people to rage against “unbridled corruption” in government. “On August 26, we shall march from Liwasang Bonifacio to Rizal Park to Mendiola to decisively assert our resolve to abolish the presidential and congressional pork barrel and rechannel funds to basic social services!”

The statement was signed by the UP Faculty for the Abolition of the Presidential and Congressional Pork Barrel System, UP Kilos Na, Multi-Sectoral Alliance, Office of the Student Regent, Office of the Staff Regent and the University Student Council.

For verification and more information, please call Prof. Sarah Raymundo at (0939) 925-9368