Solons Urged To Set Aside Fund For Reforestation Projects

July 30, 2007 at 5:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 30 Jul) – The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has urged Monday members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to set aside their “pork barrel” allotments over the next three years — a total of P64.8 billion — to finance employment-intensive reforestation projects nationwide.

“This way, they not only help restore the country’s forest cover, they also contribute directly to the creation of badly needed new jobs, and to alleviating widespread hunger,” TUCP President Democrito Mendoza said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Metro Manila’s dwindling water supply due to a lingering drought has underscored the urgency of reforestation projects, Mendoza said.

Mendoza said reforestation projects are highly labor-intensive, and could potentially generate tens of thousands of new jobs in the countryside.

“A seedling normally requires at least three years of proper care before they can grow on their own. Thus, the planting and growing of trees in thousands of hectares of denuded land will definitely require the mobilization of considerable human resources,” he said.

Pork barrel is a derogatory term for spending meant to benefit a politician’s constituents in return for their support.

Pork barrel spending usually goes to public works projects and subsidies with benefits that are concentrated in a particular district, but with cost that are spread among all taxpayers.

Pork barrel is often allocated through last-minute budget bill insertions.Beginning last year, the House of Representatives increased the annual pork barrel allocation of every member from P40 million to P70 million. This raised the combined annual pork barrel of the 240 House members to a total of P16.8 billion.

The 24 members of the Senate, meanwhile, get up to P200 million each in annual pork barrel allotments, or a total of P4.8 billion. (Alex Aguilar)

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