Pork Barrel has originated in the American history. The slaves of America were traditionally provided salted pork as a gift to enjoy on holiday. The slaves would run into for the barrel. The rush of the legislators to get a subsidy was lead to stampede of the slave of the pre American civil war.
In the Philippines, pork barrel was transplanted and altered into a Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) during Corazon Aquino where which the intention is to fast development. However, CDF was become detrimental to the Philippine state because the government started to borrow money to the World Bank and international monetary fund (IMF). Since then, the Philippine debt was growth. It was the time of Erap changed which up to present name, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Until now, Pork allocations have grown by leaps and bound. Almost 58% of the national budget are allocated to the legislators. In 2012, the amount was 26 billion at 70 million to 80 million each for the 250 house representatives including the party lists member plus P200 to P250million for the senators.
Where the fund spend:
Lawmakers are required to focus on qualified “soft” and “hard” projects for which funds can be spent. Hard projects refers to tangible projects like small infrastructures (e.g. Road, building). Soft projects cover non-infrastructure project like scholarship programs and medical assistance (e.g libreng tuli, free checkup and medicine).
Purpose of PDAF:
The priority development allocation fund (PDAF), better known as “PORK BARREL” is a regular allocation of public funds to members of the Philippine congress. It can served as a good complement to national development efforts, which cannot fully provide for the economic and social necessities of every localities, most especially those in far-flung provinces or remote areas. Hence, providing an opportunity for democratic and productive practices towards economic development. PDAF is also a representation of an effective governance of a people’s representative and the democratization of one state.
All the commotion started when a certain businesswoman Janet Napoles was identified as having allegedly cornered as much as 10billion in pork barrel funds directed through non-government organizations (NGOs). The pork-barrel scam associating several senators and congressmen. Another, the taxes of Pilipino people who get obliged to pay while the politician are waiting to corrupt it. After appalling issue, the taxpayer are now in dilemmas to pay or not.
Why there is a need to abolish “pork barrel”/ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)
At first glance, the PDAF is a good tool that can directly address local needs. However, as with all tools, its role as beneficial or harmful means, it must to end or to abolish the system with how it is being used. Despite its good intention (ideally), the PDAF has also allowed corruption to poison our institution. A crucial elements to this problem is the transparency and accountability of the officials to their allocated fund. They have wide discretion whether to use it in accordance to the purpose or to use it in accordance to their well. Pork Barrel is root cause of corruption, what is developed is not actually the countryside but the pockets of the legislatives and executive officials.
It also breeds patronage politics and the politics of corrupt negotiations between legislative and executive branches of the government. As a result, Pork Barrel demoralize the primary duty of congress to draft and pass law for the common good.
Pork barrel stayed an American model which cannot be transplanted into political system of the Philippine as this will only cause on rush of the politicians to get a share of the pork leaving the poor Juan crumbs for his family, and the generation to come beholden to the cruel cycle of poor getting poorer and the politicians getting richer.
What should be done?
To abolish the pork barrel? YES, it’s really possible, but you can’t abolish bureaucratic delinquency as long as the people themselves are supporting it. Since the masses who voted the TRAPOs (politicians) and there values and character traits come from the bloodstream of the past. Let us purify the bloodstream and purify the society, then corruption will be the thing of the past and the clamor for the abolition of the pork barrel system is a call for social transformations, it is a collective aspiration for social justice. And we pave the way for social justice when we end the concentration of power.
Let us go on fighting against the pork barrel!
Note: Iboto si Trapo ko. Gwapito III (vol. 8 1st semester) article was published in Sunstar Davao April 23, 2013