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The Philippines and corruption go together like pork and mustard.

But a fresh
inquiry into the countrys so-called pork-barrel culture has produced some of the
largest popular protests to hit the nation in years, and they show no signs of
abating. Imagine life without pork, do you think it will make you healthy? Just like
the pork barrel, do you think that there is an assurance that if we scrap it, it would
be beneficial to us?
The pork barrel system appears to be a democratic way of apportioning
government resources. Inherited from the United States, this scheme is supposed to
allocate funds equally to every congressional district to be used for the residents
most urgent needs. Pork barrel, as stated, is the appropriation of government
spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a
representative's district. It is clear that it is a fund given to government officials for
them to start a project which is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in
return for their political support.
The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the official name of the
congressional pork barrel, is a lump sum appropriation in the national budget. For
this year, it has a funding of nearly P25 billion. It allocates P200 million a year for
each senator and P70 million for each member of the House of Representatives.
The process of releasing PDAF allocations starts with a senator or
congressman making a request for the release of his or her allocation. A project list
accompanies the request. Projects are drawn from a menu specified in the annual
budget law.
Actually, pork barrel is not innately evil. It is a source of temptation definitely
because huge amount of money is being involved in this. But however, one thing
thats great about it, it can help a lot of schools, offices, public ways, they can
benefit from it if and only if money is provided and allocated in the right place. But
one thing, the main job of legislators is to enact laws for the common good, not to
build roads, school houses and medical clinics, or feed orphans, grant scholarships,
or distribute fertilizers. But, so the theory goes, they canon the sideserve their
constituents better by directing government resources to the urgent needs of their
But why do we need the urgent abolition of pork barrel? First, it is a source of
corruption. Second, it breeds patronage politics and the politics of immoral
compromises between the executive and legislative branches of government. Third,
it undermines the primary duty of Congress to draft and pass laws for the common
good. Conversely, it seeks to preserve and protect the interests of those who are in
power. Lastly, Pork allocations over the years have grown by leaps and bounds. In
2010, that amount was P26.0 billion at P80 million each for the 250 house members
plus P250 million each for 24 senators. These are just some of the reasons why we
need to scrap it.

Clearly a lot more needs to be done. The true victims here are the
organizations in need which should have been the beneficiaries of the pork, and the
Filipino people whose taxes funded the pork.
I believe that vital to any solution are neutrality and accountability. The pork
barrel budget should be reallocated to a neutral third-party organization that will
disburse funds directly to the selected beneficiaries. The beneficiaries should be
held accountable for the funds they receive. Both partiesthe funding organization
and the beneficiaryshould be subject to periodic audits by an independent body
selected by the taxpayers. It may sound simple and easier said than done, but it
just might work.
The money itself belongs to the people who are paying taxes. Its supposed to
be used to develop the country. To prevent things like this from happening again,
the government should physically show the masses where their taxes go. The tax
payers should be able to acknowledge the changes brought to them and their

This scandal should serve as a wake-up call for the youth. We need to be
more involved, and know the issues of our country. By doing so, we can be more
vigilant and, in our little way, effect positive change as a unit. Sad to say, the abuse
of power by officials has been a way of life in the government, so that it seems
difficult to put a stop to this. The reach is far and wide and is deeply rooted.
One of the most effective ways to safeguard the public treasury is public
vigilance, armed with a pro-people Freedom of Information (FOI) Law. The solution is
not really complicated. It is simply going back to the basic system of checks and
balances, which was precisely instituted to curb excesses and minimize corruption.
Congress, which enacts the budget, should be independent of Malacaang, which
spends it, and likewise independent of the judiciary, which decides conflicts
between these two great branches of government. They should not also delay the
enactment of the FOI bill. The current scandal involving the pork barrel should be
enough reason to hasten its passage into law. Transparency is what we need.
Pork barrel scandal just reveals to all of us that too much power, indeed, does
make people corrupt. This leads to the abuse of the power that the people gave to
the government officials. Scrap the pork! Punish the corrupt!