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Benigno Aquino signs $347.61m supplemental budget

Money set aside for initial rehabilitation efforts in typhoon-damaged central Philippines

Gulf News

Manila: Philippines President Benigno Aquino III has signed an additional budget allocating P14.6-billion (US$347.61 million or Dh1.25 billion) as initial funds for the rehabilitation of the country’s cental region, which was damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in November.

The supplemental budget will be sourced from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that was not used by senators and congressmen in 2013, Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

It was signed on December 26 after it was approved by the Senate on December 4, Coloma said.

At the time, 15 senators voted in favour of House Bill 3423, which was certified urgent by Aquino.

The House of Representatives voted 213-6 for the passage of the Bill on December 3.

Thousands of Filipinos held anticorruption rallies in August, following revelations by whistle-blowers of alleged misuse of the lawmakers’ development fund.

Janet Napoles, a private businesswoman, was identified as the operator who allegedly processed the release of lawmakers’ development fund to non-existing projects, through non-functioning non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that she established for the scam.

Lawmakers allegedly received 50 per cent of the released funds; their chiefs of staff, five per cent; Napoles, 35 per cent; and other government officials, 10 per cent.

Earlier, the Supreme Court ruled that PDAF should no longer be released, in response to petitions that the allocation of development funds to senators and congressman was unconstitutional.

The petitioners challenged the law that allows the allocation of development funds to senators and congressmen.

Protesters have been calling PDAF the pork barrel scheme.

Earlier, the National Economic Development Authority said the government will need $8.5 billion for the rehabilitation of central Philippines over a period of four years.