Press Release
October 19, 2006


With elections just around the corner, lawmakers seeking reelection can best show their sincerity and goodwill by sacrificing their pork barrel funds, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Thursday.

Lacson said giving up pork will also shield them from Malacañang s attempts to bribe them, especially with the return of Arthur Yap to the Department of Agriculture (DA) less than seven months before the 2007 elections.

Sacrificing pork barrel funds in an election year will be doubly significant. Not only will they lessen the burden on taxpayers who will have to fund next years budget, they will also show they want to be elected because they want to serve, he said.

He added such a gesture will not only make a big impact on the P1.126-trillion proposed national budget for 2007, but will also be the best proof that lawmakers are there not for the money.

Otherwise, he said lawmakers who refuse to let go of their pork risk being perceived as seeking government posts to enrich themselves at the Filipino taxpayers expense noting that the `pork barrel system has long been tainted with allegations of graft and corrupt practices.

Worse, he said continuing to avail of pork will make lawmakers vulnerable to a possible repeat of a bribery attempt in January 2005, which he bared during a budget hearing last year.

At the time, Lacson said people claiming to represent the DA approached some senators and gave them prepared letter-requests forms addressed to then Secretary Yap, purportedly soliciting funds for farm inputs involving amounts of up to P5 million.

Savings in the DAs budget will supposedly fund the pre-approved requests. Yap was then facing confirmation at the Commission on Appointments and the DAs budget was being deliberated by the Senate.

Reports reaching Lacsons office showed some lawmakers who would have availed of the pre-approved requests would have gained substantial commissions out of the supposed ghost projects funded by the DA savings.

Lacson has not availed of his pork barrel funds as senator since 2002, after seeing for himself the temptations to graft and corruption posed by the pork barrel funds. He has since gone on a lonely campaign to have fellow lawmakers scrap their pork funds, but lamented that most of his colleagues have chosen to avail of their funds.

But he said his dare for this year should get the attention of lawmakers whose terms end in 2007 but who want to seek reelection.

The pork barrel funds have been the main cause of public perception of lawmakers as greedy and corrupt. If they are serious in changing this, they should at least seriously consider sacrificing their pork this time, he said.

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