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August 31,2013

Quiz 3

Q: Does the abolition or reform of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF or pork barrel) impact democratic consolidation in the Philippines? Discuss the implications of the reform or abolition of the PDAF to electoral democracy, rule of law, participatory democracy, and performance of democratic institutions. Use related concepts learned from POLISCI to elucidate your argument.

Earlier in 2013 the government of President B. Aquino was caught in a corruption controversy over the so-called "pork barrel." In the Philippines, pork barrel funds have been in use at least since the 1930s during the U.S. colonial occupation. Some deem the pork barrel as part of this spoil system. It was like the personal discretionary fund of the members of the Legislature who belonged to the ruling party. The pork barrel in the Philippines has assumed various names. During the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos, it was known as the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF). It is presently known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Through modern-day history, the pork barrel has served mostly as a way for presidents or politicians to corrupt other politicians to win their loyalty and get them to support particular political agendas.

Cue from Janet Lim-Napoles and the pork barrel revelation and suddenly, many felt that they were paying all this money for absolutely nothing. In their mind tax money went to significant projects like building better infrastructure, investing in education, healthcare, and better living all around. It was both a joke and a sad wake up call considering it occurred the same time as the supper-typhoon Maring hit the country.

I would say that people truly felt fed up with the status of the society and have realized that they want something new.

The Million People March held at Rizal Park last Monday serves as a sign and a major step from the civil society in challenging our governments system. This event caused quite a stir and pressure for the president himself who throughout his presidency has made fighting corruption its cornerstone. He eventually vowed to abolish the fund or the lawmakers' flexible spending budgets. I applaud Aquinos decision to take action just proves the we, the citizens of this country, are his boss. This serves as a significant stepping stone for a foreseeable future of a democratic consolidation.

At the very minimum, democracy requires the existence of free and fair elections allowing the citizens of a country to choose representative leaders. While elections are a fundamental prerequisite of democratic consolidation, the presence of a functioning electoral system does not automatically ensure the existence of true democracy or rule out the possibility of authoritarian structures and practices. A democracy is considered "consolidated" when a large majority of the countries' population accepts the democratic institutions as legitimate and thus they exist relatively unchallenged. However, this also means that there must be a strong democratic culture in place as well. The people believe in the basic principles of democracy and participates in various aspects of civil society.

The Million People March is a clear definition of participatory democracy. Our fellow country men showed that true democracy lies in the direct participation of the nations citizens in the decisions that concerns the welfare of the society. They want to show that things have to change, there has to be accountability, and there has to be a better way of doing things. It was enough to show that it is a serious movement not just a scandal that needs to be addressed. The people now not only want promises, they want results.

I can now see that the nation is starting to believe in the power of the people or should I say is back in believing the power of the people as what EDSA I and II showed. We are now more educated to liberal democracy where people not only vote representatives but also have

extensive political rights and civil liberties like the right to publicly assemble and oppose or challenged the government and its system.

Evidently, the scandal of widespread corruption of the pork barrel of PDAF among our countrys legislators have greatly affected the rule of law in Philippine democracy . First and foremost, the president immediately stated to eliminate the funds as what I previously mentioned. This sends the message that people ought to make sure that the laws which affect them are considerably beneficial to society. Furthermore, the movement also urged the Aquino administration to take a further step to introduce a freedom of information law to make it easier for the public to get access to government data and other information. Which is, I believe, a basic human right in a democratic government. The citizens further questions that lets say the people accountable to this scandal or corruption were identified, what happens to them after that? I would say there is a clear answer for this or should we just predict that nothing big will happen to them. They will just be removed from office but not sent to jail because they are elected public officials who comes to be powerful as long as politics is concerned. The access to justice has always been a challenge to our system.

Speaking of our legislators, the issue also proposes a stir in terms of our electoral democracy. I can clearly say that after this big wake up call I hope the people would realize that they should have better taste and be very critical in choosing people to represent them in the political process and allocate values on their behalf in the 2016 elections. Each electoral candidate should be careful criticized to assess whether he or she is capable of controlling his or her new found power over the constituents.

I also believe that we should put an end not only to pork barrel but to political dynasties as well. This is due to the fact that it doesnt propose change and lashes out the right of the electorate to the opportunity of selecting another representative because they dont have a choice but to vote a candidate who they find only find reliable because it was a family or relative of the previously elected official.

The issue of pork barrel and its corruption also questions the state of Philippine democracy in terms of the performance of democratic institutions. I think even before the issue have come out, the citizens have already lost their belief in the credibility of our government, our system, and our elected officials. Various events hidden from the nations naked eyes have already throughout the our history. From the dictatorial of Marcos to the corruption of former President Estrada. From the Arroyos administration fair share of discretion due to the ZTE deal and the Hello, Garci tape to the seemingly never ending election frauds, which I think would never be in extinction from our system.

However, people still do realize that these well educated people are needed as they are bastions of power and helps in leading the country to, in one way or another, a good path but not straight. The challenge now is for officials to prove that they are wroth the vote, worth the seat and even worth of a part in our future history. They should be true to their vow and make actions the pleases the welfare of the people. In a democratic country like the Philippines, they should be public servants voicing out the concerns of people not as politicians clamoring for power and status in the society.

The reform of PDAF is a symbol that people what to have a better future. That we all want to put and end to something that hampers everyones growth. Achievement of full democratic consolidation is a long and winding road. Hopefully, we can all see better days ahead.