8 Opinions About the PDAF Scam You Should Know
The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), better known as “Pork Barrel”, is a regular allocation of public funds to members of the Philippine Congress. It’s designed to give legislators easy access to capital so that they can earmark projects for improving their respective constituencies.
At the same time, Pork Barrel is a frequent target for critics who says it facilitates corruption. They say it makes it easier for politicians to divert money into their own pockets, and perpetuates the patronage politics that has kept the Philippines from progressing.
We at 8List have compiled 8 varied opinions on Pork Barrel, a hot-button issue ever since the PDAF Scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles become the topic of discussions everywhere.
Representative Lani Mercado, 2nd District of Cavite
“Basta huwag lang manghihingi sa amin ang mga tao! E, anong ibibigay namin [kung wala na kaming Pork Barrel]?
Hindi naman puwede yung sa pinaghihirapan namin dahil sa personal naman namin yun, sa mga anak, sa mga pang-araw-araw na panggastos namin.
Basta importante lang, may transparency.
Basta ako, meron akong ulat sa bayan. Isinusulat ko dun yung mga ipinapagawa ko.”
Coincidentally, the 2nd Legislative District of Cavite comprises only the city of Bacoor, which suffered heavy flooding thanks to Maring.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada
“It is not up to the senators to determine whether an NGO [non-governmental organization] is bogus or not.”
Alangan naman na kami pa ang magsasabi na, ‘Uy, bogus ‘yan.’ How will we know?
Gusto ko lang malaman sa mga kinauukulan kung saan talaga napunta ‘yong para sa ating magsasaka dahil ang ating mga magsasaka, mga kababayan nating mahirap, sila mismo ang nagre-request sa aking tanggapan na sila ay mabigyan ng ayuda”
To summarize: Estrada said that it’s not his responsibility to check whether an NGO allocated pork barrel funds is actually doing its job, but he does want to know where the money goes.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago
“[Pork Barrel are the senators’] personal responsibility. You cannot just plead that other agencies have been created for the sole purpose of checking those NGOs [who have been given Pork Barrel funds]. That is such a lame excuse. It’s an evasion of responsibility.”
President Noynoy Aquino
“Maybe what we should do is that those who misuse the pork barrel should really face more serious punishment
If we take it out, that means we rely on the national government to know the needs of every district and to solve these all the time. That’s hard to do.
There [are] already huge improvements in safeguards which have lessened the chances pork barrel can be misused, but I think there are more ways we can improve the process so there would be no opportunities to take advantage of them”
At the very least, the president is consistent with his positive stance on pork barrel allocations. See what he said about them during an interview conducted before his election.
Update: Seems like the President has changed his mind. In a press conference yesterday, he announced the abolishment of PDAF:
There are those who treat the PDAF as their own private fund, to use as they please. This is clearly wrong: What is involved here is the people’s money; it should be used for the benefit of the people, and not for the benefit of a few greedy individuals.
The shocking revelations of this misuse – the latest being the COA (Commission on Audit) Special Audit Report in the 2007-2009 PDAF which was released this past week – are truly scandalous.
Sorry pigs, you’ve lost an ally.
Clare Amador, Department of Budget and Management Employee
“For the 2009-2010 data, there is no specific amount attributed per Legislator in the GAA. You may see the variations in the figures in the website. ”
“In 2011, our first year to craft* the budget, there was a decision to officially state the cap on the amount of funds Legislators can identify projects for: 40M Hard (infra), 30M Soft (social services) for the lower house and 100m Hard and 100m soft for the upper house per member per year. We also updated the projects menu where there were additional restrictions and conditions, some items were removed, some were modified (esp those prone to leakage). (Updating the menu is a continuing effort) ”
The implications we [8List Editors] draw from Amador’s Facebook note on PDAF is that it’s just a matter of setting clear rules and delineations for pork barrel. She points people towards budgetngbayan.com for more layman-language information.
Ed’s Note: This has been edited to include the following information: 1) Clare Amador is the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, 2) quotations have been edited to reflect revised source material and to clearly indicate that the quotations have been directly lifted from a Facebook posting, and 3) a link that has been added to direct to the source of this information.
“…we firmly believe that any proposal to disqualify all NGOs/CSOs from receiving PDAF or other government financial support is grossly unfair to the many legitimate CSOs doing good work in many parts of the country and merely diverts attention from the true causes of the ‘pork barrel scam’.”
In their own words, CODE-NGO (The Caucus of Development NGO Networks) “is the largest coalition of competent, credible and committed development CSOs [Civil Service Organizations] in the Philippines that influences public policies, shapes development and creates tangible impact in its partner communities.”
Citizens Congress for Good Governance (C2G2) Inc.
“The pork barrel is the bargaining chip that the executive branch of government needs “to bribe” and keep the lawmakers in tow. By not scrapping the pork barrel, President Noy Aquino is showing to his “Bosses” (the people) that political expediency is the route to take in arriving at his promised “Daang Matuwid” (the straight or righteous path) which in actuality is the short-cut road to condemning the people to poverty.”
This part of C2G2’s online petition, which asks the Philippine Congress to abolish pork barrel.
Prof. Randy David
“Can pork be good after it is cured? Not in a political system dominated by insatiable swine.”
The wordplay is beautiful, and summarizes the journalist’s stance against pork barrel.