Legislators who voted vs. Palace get no pork

Published by rudy Date posted on July 22, 2011

THE Palace has made good its threat to withhold pork barrel from the lawmakers who voted against two bills that President Benigno Aquino III had certified as urgent, with 17 congressmen getting nothing from their P35-million allotment for the first half of the year.

Those who voted for only one of the two measures—to impeach resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and to postpone the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao—received only half their allotment.

“I voted no to both measures and I got zero,” Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said. He recalled the text messages that were sent to congressmen in March on the eve of the key votes on the Palace-certified measures.

“Now we know, no matter how the Palace tried to deny it, that the text-message warning was true after all.”

Most of the 81 members of the President’s Liberal Party received their pork barrel in full.

Congressmen are entitled to P70 million in pork barrel allocations that they may spend on roads, bridges, hospitals, classrooms and aid programs in their respective districts, but the Palace has decided to release the funds in two tranches.

Tiangco said he wrote Budget Secretary Florencio Abad twice in May and on June 27, but Abad did not reply. He said Abad sent him a text message when he decided to issue a press statement to let his constituents know that the Palace had put on hold the funds for scholarships and medical assistance to the poor.

Tiangco said Abad washed his hands of the issue and pointed to the President.

Abad’s text message read: “Cong. Tiangco, I read your PR [press release] today re your PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel]. I suggest you find a way to talk to PNoy [President Aquino]. The Speaker can help you along this line.”

Tiangco forwarded Abad’s message to the Manila Standard. Abad did not reply to messages seeking his comment.

Fourteen of the 30-strong minority, including four Arroyos, received no pork barrel. Others received their fund releases in trickles, Zambales Rep. Maria Milagros Magsaysay said.

“So it is payback time,” she said.

“President Aquino is no different than the previous administration that he now denounces.”

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Tiangco had no reason to complain because his allocation would be released soon. But he declined to comment when asked why most of the 25 members of the Nationalista Party, which took a party stand against the ARMM postponement bill, received nothing.

“There was no excuse given to me,” said House Deputy Speaker Jesus Crispin Remulla, an NP stalward.

“I thought President Aquino promised he will not use the pork barrel against those who do not toe the Palace line. This is contrary to his promise. I voted no to both measures and I got zero allocation.”

Alagad Rep. Rodante Marcoleta said he also received no allocation because he questioned Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House committee on justice, and pressed him to produce evidence against Gutierrez. Marcoleta voted no to impeachment.

Tiangco, Remulla and Marcoleta are allied with the President.

Abstentions were also treated as no votes.

Seven lawmakers—Bayan Muna Reps. Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares, Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Gabriella Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Luz Ilagan, and Act Teacher Rep. Antonio Tinio—received P7 million each. They voted yes to impeachment but no to the postponement of the ARMM elections.

But Belmonte dismissed the complaints. –Christine F. Herrera, Manila Standard Today

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