Senator Bam Aquino, who earlier suspended the use of his office’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) “until charges are filed” against the perpetrators of the P10B “PDAF scam”, now calls for the abolition of the pork barrel through an innovative measure. He proposes, instead, for a “People’s Fund” to be set up, to give Filipino taxpayers greater control over where a portion of their income taxes should go.
The People’s Fund “seeks to revolutionize public budgeting and funding by giving the taxpayers of the Philippines clear and concrete choices on where their money should go.”
It provides a mechanism for five percent (5%) of an individual’s income tax to be allocated to either of the following: (a) an accredited charity or civil society organization; (b) a national or local priority government project; or (c) a legitimate political party.
“To be clear, hindi ito bagong buwis na ipapataw sa mga tao. Ang People’s Fund ay manggagaling sa binabayad na ng mamamayan na tax kada taon. Ang pinag-iba lang ay merong kapangyarihan ang mga taxpayer na piliin kung saan pupunta ang porsyento ng perang ito. Ginagawa na ito sa ibang mga bansa; panahon na, na gawin ito sa Pilipinas.”
“After all,” Aquino continues, “our estimate of the People’s Fund is around ten billion pesos. Mas maliit pa rin sa papalitan niyang PDAF na twenty-five billion pesos. Sa kadulu-duluhan, nakatipid pa rin ang gobyerno ng malaking halaga na ngayo’y napupunta sa pork barrel.”
Under the bill, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) shall establish the mechanism that would enable individual taxpayers to select beneficiaries upon filing of their annual income tax returns. Meanwhile, an inter-agency committee led by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) shall determine the eligibility of organizations and initiatives, and shall likewise set the conditions, guidelines, and reporting requirements for the receipt and use of the funds by the benefitting organizations.
“People are sick and tired of seeing their taxes go to waste when precious money could instead be channeled toward initiatives that truly benefit millions of Filipinos. They are sick of the corruption that has been perpetuated by the current PDAF system. It’s time for the PDAF to go and bring the power back to the people through the People’s Fund,” Aquino adds.