Pork barrel: not abolition but make-over-A A +A
Monday, August 26, 2013
PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino last Jan. 23 made a policy statement aimed apparently to take off some of the wind in today’s protest march against pork barrel.
But in both Pilipino and English versions of his speech, PNoy didn’t mention “pork barrel.” He referred only to PDAF, or Priority Development Assistance Fund.
One national paper’s headline said “pork barrel” while a competing daily used “PDAF.”
Pork barrel is what government spends for a localized project, “secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.”
Many appropriations in national budget are concentrated in a particular area but costs are spread among all taxpayers. Spending for a highway in Luzon or the Cebu airport doesn’t benefit taxpayers outside those areas. Not pork barrel, as understood locally.
Pinoys see pork barrel as the fund over which legislator or president has some control.
The senator or House member decides how to spend his annual cut of P200 million or P70 million and the president his mega-peso social fund.
PDAF is pork barrel but not every pork barrel is PDAF.
If PDAF is abolished, won’t it be replaced by a mechanism in which the legislator keeps control over funds for his district? PDAF took over from Countryside Development Fund, the PDAF retaining the lawmaker’s privilege to identify projects.
Trust lawmakers to come up with a clone of PDAF. Stung by the Janet Lim-Napoles scandal, though, Congress may impose limits to lessen corruption that has tainted pork-barrel spending.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 26, 2013.