Latest Stories

Militant lawmakers file bill abolishing pork barrel

By , Karen Boncocan

House of Representatives. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The battle against the pork barrel is shaping up, with militants from the Makabayan bloc formalizing their plea to abolish the system by filing a bill Wednesday that seeks to prevent the government from allocating funds for this, knowing it is an unpopular measure.

House Bill 1535, or “An Act Abolishing the Pork Barrel System by Prohibiting the Allocation and Use of Funds for Such Purpose,” is expected to meet stiff opposition since incoming House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and other lawmakers believe there is no reason to scrap the pork barrel or the priority development assistance fund. Instead, they have pushed for stricter guidelines and more safeguards on the use of the funds that lawmakers can channel to their selected projects.

The pork barrel has been routinely criticized as a tool for corruption, and the brickbats have been amplified with the airing of recent allegations that P10 billion worth of PDAF were channeled to bogus projects through fake non-government organizations.

The militants said the pork barrel system has become “a form of institutionalized patronage and officially tolerated graft and corruption,” and that the public’s disgust at recent allegations should fuel the crusade to abolish it.

ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio said the measure will most likely be met by strong opposition but said they would urge fellow lawmakers to support HB 1535.

“This is where public opinion comes in. We need to hear many sectors and groups taking a stand for the abolition of pork and the dismantling of patronage politics—the religious, academe, professional organizations, workers, farmers. They can exert the pressure that could turn the tide in Congress,” he said.

The Makabayan bloc is composed of five party-list groups in the House of Representatives. Seven lawmakers make up the group in the 16th Congress.

The militant bloc said, “We are confident that the righteous public outrage generated by the sheer magnitude of the plunder allegedly perpetrated through this P10 billion pork barrel scam will provide the momentum needed to move this issue forward.”

In their resolution, the Makabayan lawmakers have proposed that, in the fiscal year 2014, the Office of the President will be prevented from providing a budgetary item or including in the national expenditure program the lump sum allocations for the PDAF or any other budgetary item that would allocate an amount for lawmakers’ soft programs and projects and infrastructure projects.

At present, senators get P200 million a year for their chosen projects, while members of the House of Representatives get P70 million a year.

The Makabayan lawmakers also said the President’s own pork barrel must be abolished. The use of the fees, revenues, and receipts from the exploration or development of energy resources and funds from revenue generating agencies for the President’s Social Fund must be prohibited, they said.

In pushing their proposal, they said that under state policy, public funds must only be used for projects to benefit the people, and not for patronage and traditional politics.

Public office being a public trust, the government must maintain honesty and integrity in the use of the people’s money. It must also implement measures against graft and corruption, they added.

“Government shall ensure that every cent from the public purse is used toward attaining real and comprehensive development, equitable distribution of income and wealth, and a sustained increase in production of goods and services for the benefit of the people, especially the underprivileged—and none for patronage and traditional politics,” they said.

In their explanatory note to the measure, they cited the alleged pork barrel misuse to the tune of P10 billion involving the JLN Corporation.

They said the pork barrel has long been believed to be a massive source of graft and corruption, and that kickbacks were seen as “the cost of doing politics as usual.”

“Severe limitations in validation and auditing, as well as the scope and number of projects involved, have always prevented a thorough and nationwide check of the use of legislative and Presidential pork barrel funds,” they said.

They added that the alleged P10 billion scam has become proof of this, and also showed that the system could no longer be sanitized.

“Contrary to claims by other legislators that more and better safeguards can be implemented to prevent abuse, the current scam proves that the pork barrel system is beyond salvaging and should be abolished,” they said.

Although the measure faces tough adversaries, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said that they would ask fellow House members for support.

“We will discuss this with our House colleagues and convince them that pork abolition will eventually be for the best interest of our people, especially the poor majority,” he said.

Zarate said they would first talk to “like-minded colleagues.”

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has earlier maintained that congressmen needed their pork barrel to assist their constituents.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr. echoed Belmonte, saying, “It (scrapping of the pork barrel) is just untenable given local political dynamics where many district congressmen are judged by their constituency on the pet projects and direct services they give to their constituencies,”

He earlier described the pork barrel to be an “equalizer” for districts that lack funding for certain services.

Baguilat said that scholarships, medical assistance, small infrastructure like day-care centers or water systems were among lawmakers’ projects which were “largely funded by PDAF.”

“What’s perhaps more realistic is to institute more safeguards to ensure that the funds are not malversed. Enforcement of DBM (Department of Budget and Management) regulations is the key,” he said.

Belmonte said that the DBM reduced the PDAF menu “a couple of times during the 15th Congress. It is quite strict now.”

Baguilat said the DBM had earlier reminded House members “that funds can’t be coursed through foundations and NGOs.”

“That’s why the PDAF is channeled to line agencies and LGUs (local government units) who have accounting procedures and COA oversight,” said the Ifugao lawmaker.

He said he was puzzled that there was a “breakdown” of the said system with other House members since all of them knew “this was prohibited under this administration.”

“If it occurred during the GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) era, then that was the protocol before but as far as I know, this was prohibited under this administration,” said Baguilat.

Despite being against the scrapping of lawmakers’ pork barrel funds, Belmonte said that they still “have to continue measures that avoid abuse or fraud.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Feliciano Belmonte , House of Representatives , Makabayan bloc , Makabayan Coalition , PDAF , Philippine Congress , Philippine Government , Pork barrel , priority development and assistance program , State Budget and Taxes

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. US teacher fired over comment on black president
  2. Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  3. Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  4. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  7. Massive infra spending set
  8. Easter crucifixions draw huge crowds
  9. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  10. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  9. Massive infra spending set
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  5. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  6. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  7. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’–report
  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Sports

  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors
  • Motivated LeBron James preps for postseason
  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Multicultural flock marks Good Friday in San Francisco
  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • Marketplace