Wednesday, September 23, 2015



Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. may have defied a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting “post-enactment intervention” in the budget when he took part in the distribution of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) to victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda in his district.

The high tribunal’s decision declaring the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers as illegal, the magistrates “defined pork barrel as post-enactment intervention of a legislator.”

 ESA provides cash assistance of P30,000 and P10,000 to Yolanda victims whose houses were partially or totally damaged, respectively. The money is used for the purchase of construction materials to repair and reconstruct their homes.

Escudero said, ESA funds were sourced from the P13-billion National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund under the 2015 General Appropriations Act.

As of June 30, about P130.9 billion was released by the DBM to the DSWD for the implementation of ESA. The amount represented the assistance given to 3,874 families and 18,433 families with totally and partially damaged houses, respectively.

Escudero said, the implementation of the national budget “is not the concern of legislators, but of government line agencies like in the case of ESA, the DSWD.”

Tupas was earlier spotted during the distribution of ESA grants in towns under the fifth district of Iloilo, which he represents in Congress.

This did not sit well with DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, who complained to the administration party about Tupas’ alleged interference in ESA distribution.

Tupas later criticized Soliman. He claimed it was his responsibility as a lawmaker to monitor the disbursement of government funds.

He cited complaints from beneficiaries themselves that they only received P10,000 even if their homes were totally damaged, and that some of the funds went to “fake” or “ghost” beneficiaries, based on the list prepared by local government units (LGUs).

Some ESA beneficiaries also complained how loan sharks, in cahoots with unscrupulous employees of the DSWD and LGUs, took advantage of them. /MP

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