Largest pork barrel ever: P24.7 billion in election year


    First of Two Parts

    If there’s a single thing that should convince you, dear reader, how much of a rapacious wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing President Aquino’s Administration has been, it is the pork-barrel issue.

    For 2016, Aquino’s last year in office and an election year, the Budget he got the Congress to approve had P24.7 billion in pork-barrel funds, shrouded in techno-fiscal mumbo jumbo his budget secretary, Florencio Abad, thought could fool the nation – Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB) projects.

    It’s the same old pork barrel with a different name, though, but which the Supreme Court had defined as “government spending meant for localized projects and secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.”

    This year’s BUB is the biggest pork-barrel fund ever in our entire history.

    Obviously this election year is intended to bribe local government officials to support the candidacy of Aquino’s bet, the lackluster Manuel A. Roxas 2nd. That money will, together with other funds lodged in the interior and local government, make up the largest vote-buying kitty this nation will have ever seen.

    It was Aquino’s mother, Corazon, who in 1990 created that sort of fund and called it the Countrywide Development Fund, amounting to P2.3 billion. It became her means of buying the political support of local government officials to counter the coup attempts mounted against her.

    More than two decades later, her son Benigno would allocate an average of P21 billion yearly in pork-barrel funds in his six years in power to secure enough Congress votes to do his bidding and stifle the opposition.

    With it, and with another form of pork barrel on a bigger scale for senators – called the Disbursement Acceleration Fund – Aquino was able to assault the Supreme Court and remove Chief Justice Renato Corona from office in a desperate attempt by the Aquino clan to squeeze billions of pesos in compensation for its Hacienda Luisita.
    pork20160104The power of the pork-barrel continues to work as Aquino wields it: getting Congress to pass his Reproductive Health bill; very nearly passed the unamended Bangsamoro Basic law before the year-end; maintaining his hold on Congress so much so that he has escaped congressional scrutiny and impeachment for such utter failures in governance such as the Mamasapano massacre and the MRT-3 scandals.

    It was the pork-barrel funds that have made Congress such a docile body as to lap Aquino’s feet as he threw in jail the leaders of the opposition, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla.

    For instance, why wouldn’t Eastern Samar representative Ben Evardone lick Aquino’s boots, given that under former President Gloria Arroyo, his district got only P30 million yearly in pork-barrel money, but in 2015 he got P290 million and will be getting P342 million this year? I just hope my old friend, former Malaya journalist Evardone, spends that huge money to help the poor in his district – one of the poorest areas in the country – and not to buy country mansions, much less to wine and dine and travel the globe first-class.

    It is not an exaggeration to call Aquino’s six years in power as the pork-barrel regime that mouths righteous slogans. Pork barrel under the administrations of Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo averaged just P5 billion yearly. Under Aquino, pork-barrel funds have averaged P24 billion yearly, for a total of P145 billion during his six-year term.

    Bribe money
    Very few legislative bodies in the world now have pork-barrel schemes, as it is, first of all, indisputably a bribery scheme that eats into the integrity of legislators, making them beholden to the head of state, and therefore, undermining the republican system of checks and balances.

    Secondly, it dissipates government funds, which should more appropriately be used for projects that require huge amounts of funds beyond the capacity of local governments, and which only the national government can amass. For instance, P24.7 billion this year will be used for 14,324 very small projects such as potable wells, birthing facilities, goat production and preservation of historical landmarks, which are the responsibility of local governments.

    The P24.7 billion, instead, could be used as equity to raise P100 billion more for the national government to build a subway or another railway that could alleviate the worsening traffic in the capital or build an entirely new airport – which could ultimately boost the economy and consequently benefit the country’s poor. But the rationale for pork-barrel funds isn’t economics but politics, a way for a President to bribe Congress.

    We, as a nation, continue to complain that we have weak infrastructure because we don’t have the money to fund their rehabilitation or construct new ones. That’s not really true. We have the money, but we dissipate its use.

    A truly reformist government would have scrapped the pork-barrel system, using the outrage over the (Janet) Napoles scam as an opportunity to do so. Aquino even expanded it, claiming that it has made the budget “responsive to the needs of the Filipino people.” That’s utter hogwash; “responsive to congressmen’s demands” is more accurate. Aquino’s legacy would be a pork-barrel scheme his successors are likely to find difficult to scrap.

    It is not his success in fighting corruption, nor his “good governance” that explains Aquino’s wide political support in Congress. It is the money – taxpayers’ money – that he has been distributing every year to our very opportunistic congressmen.

    Ironically, Aquino ramped up pork-barrel spending when that kind of government expenditures was exposed the past two years as so vulnerable to large-scale corruption, with legislators not just pocketing a percentage of the funds but stealing everything by utilizing non-existent NGOs and falsifying documents. That is what is now known as the infamous Janet Napoles scandal, named after the alleged mastermind of one part of the grand pork-barrel scheme that has outraged the nation. Yet Aquino has acted as if there had been no such earth-shaking corruption exposé.

    Aquino has demonstrated his lack of respect for the rule of law by continuing pork-barrel allocations, even increasing them, after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 2013.

    Aquino and Abad simply gave it a new name – “Bottom-up Budgeting” projects and created the illusion that the legislators had no role in choosing the projects to be funded. The two, however, simply made it a pencil-pushing exercise by having each congressman submit the projects he wants for his district that are contained in the list of BUB projects , 14,324 for 2016, before the budget is passed into law.

    This is to go around the Supreme Court decision that ruled the pork-barrel system as unconstitutional since the Constitution gives only the executive branch, and not the legislative, the authority to implement a government project.

    However, the BUB projects are not listed with such details as, where exactly a deep-well would be constructed, for instance, which gives the local congressman the covert power to choose the specific location and, therefore, have a say in its implementation.

    The spirit of the Supreme Court decision declaring pork-barrel illegal is contained in the definition given for it: “An appropriation of government spending meant for localized projects and secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.”

    BUB projects obviously fit that description. But no one has brought a case before the Supreme Court questioning why Aquino has defied its ruling.

    Such is what our country has become.

    Next week: Abad’s Batanes: “What are we in power for?”



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    1. Why would we have our heads ache over this anomalous CDF, pork barrel, daf pdaf or call it any name you want to call it when a simple solution is at hand, i.e. abolition of congress and senate in the tenure of the next administration and have our form of government change… It is an open fact that instead of creating laws beneficial to the state and its constituents, both houses have become havens of corrupt and greedy politicians, which ride on hot issues by doing a superficial and haphazard senate/congress inquiries in the guise of aid in future legislation when in reality they are only grandstanding on every issues at hand….

      • It would appear to be the case , that we have “Bogus ” senate–In fact the whole form of government is a”Sham”.

        .When does it end –When will people say “Enough”..

        The huge amounts of Money going off into the pockets of corrupt officials –would be mind staggering ..

        .Think of what it would mean to this country ; if this money had gone in he right direction We are talking of billions –Over decades ,,

        ,We could have a decent education system; A more equatable hospital system ..

        Instead we are given over to being run by all accounts..By a largely greedy bunch of wily liars …How long can this go on for ?–When will we the people say Enough !
        Dr David M Meyer (PhD Psych}

    2. I get really well lets call it confused on this subject. Normally i have a go at you but ill give you some leeway here. The government has to spend money, every government has to so how do they spend money on things without it being a pork barrel. I think i need to understand that first. I hate corruption of every sort & i would execute all those corrupt politicians. I dont mind anyone taking a little, i think most would but those politicians waiting for their cases to go to court have taken millions & millions & need to be punished. Now in every past government when each senator had a budget was that pork barrel or not, if not how was it different & if it was pork barrel then how can they every get a budget without it being pork barrel. I would like an answer on this please, so please someone who knows explain it not only to me but to many other people who may also be a little confused on this.

      • I dont mind anyone taking a little, i think most would

        That’s the attitude that let those politicians get away with their stealing for as long as they have.

      • Government sets up a budget to provide services (education, health, etc.) and build the country’s infrastructure ,according to each department’s studies and plans. Pork-barrel DOESN’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO with these priorities. Instead funds are allotted for each congressman’s district for mini projects such a “livelhood training”, farm to market roads (other than those programmed by DPWH) in order for congressman to say that he has a say in national government that he is bring home the bacon. These projects are prone to corruption since the congressman is able to designate who the conractor would be, who in turn gives him a kickback.

    3. PNoy is a creation of media. Philippine Star (Belmonte), PDI (Prieto) and ABS (Lopez) supported him, built him up and made people believe the illusion that he is. So media men should also expose him for the fake that he is. I hope Manila Times would take the lead here. He is an under performing senator. Has he done anything significant while in Congress? Yet most of us were deluded into thinking that he should be the President. Why? Because he has the surname, AQUINO. So stupid of us! I agree with some of the comments here that we should vote for the candidate who will promise to stop this pork barrel madness – a total misuse of hard-earned money by millions of impoverished Filipinos. We should vote for the candidate who has the balls to bring these people to court and eventually put them to jail. So I understand if the administration would go all out to cheat and buy votes. Who wants to go to jail? They don’t and they are desperate.

    4. The Congress and Senate approved the “BUB” for their selfish interests. Thus these politicians are equally liable to the people. Politicians run for a seat mostly for financial gains while in office. We can name a few who are service oriented.
      Have the FOI been passed, corruption could heve been reduced if not prevented.
      All political candidates from baranggay to national, for heaven sake, promise good governance.

    5. What are you talking about Mr. Tiglao, your are really a bias and an idiot, why did you not question the enacted budget of the previous administration of your boss Mrs. Arroyo and the pork barrel scandal came from the administration where you belong right? so meaning the election sabotage and cheating during your time is true by using also the pork barrel that time? and Mr. Hello Garcia. Baka naman hindi mo na naman e post eto dahil takot ka malaman ng ibang readers kung anong klase kang tao. Idiot!! Saan ba nag simula c napoles dba during your time in malacanang? magkano ba kinita nyo doon at wala kang sinusulat tungkol doon.

    6. Francisco Sevilla on

      Mr. Tiglao, why don’t you be the one to bring a case before the Supreme Court questioning why PNOY defied its ruling?

    7. Lets make sure that Abnoy, Abad, Abaya, Acusarochoa and the whole bunch of Yellow followers of Abnoy get jailed.

      • Kun mag martial law eh di hindi ma jail mga yan. Mag isip na lang ng ibang paraan para sila ay mawala.

    8. Chris Espiritu on

      Whatever name they call it CDF, PDAF, DAP or BUB, it will and will always be pork barrel. I mean, what’s in a name? Just because they change the name it will be an entire different entity? No sirree, a mad dog will remain mad even if you change the collar. Our kleptomaniac political leaders are so enamored with money that they have totally forgotten what their purpose for running for public office was. Going to Ben Evardone, if I am not mistaken he was part of the Gloria Arroyo rah rah boys, now he has changed allegiance just because his hitherto amo is no longer holding power. The very example of trapo. Expect him to switch loyalties once a new Malacanang tenant has emerged. Such is the power of pork barrel that political turncoatism is a usual affair.

    9. I will vote for the presidential candidate who will swiftly bring the perpetrators to court and resolve the matter quickly.

      • conchita gabucan on

        vote for Duterte these corrupt officials will surely be the first ones to enjoy the rope of death in luneta

      • Problem is none of the candidates are saying anything about bringing all those thieves to justice.

        Most of the candidates are guilty themselves of enriching themselves with the pork barrel and DAP funds.

        4 senators running for Vice president on the Napoles list

        Marcos, Ferdinand Jr
        Escudero, Francis Chiz
        Cayetano, Allan Peter
        Honasan, Gringo

        Do you think any of these guys will go after the pork barrel and DAP fund thieves ?

      • Duterte has picked the pork barrel fund abuser Cayetano as his running mate.

        Cayetano is on the Napoles list as giving his pork barrel allocation to Napoles in exchange for campaign funds.

        Does Duterte know this ? I’m betting he does, how’s that gonna look when he has a thief as his running mate ?

    10. My God, we should all not vote all those legislators who supported these devilish acts of Abnoy including Escudero and other Senators who yearly signed the pork barrel laden budgets. They must must all go to jail after Abnoy’s regime. Get rid of these corrupters come May 2016. Let’s vote for those candidates who are for change in our rotten government system.

    11. On behalf of the taxpayers, why don’t you bring the case before the SC. You know the details best.

    12. I have long called for a unicameral legislature under the parliamentary form of government which would save the country billions in pork barrel money. I know it is a stab in the dark, but Marcos did it when he declared martial law. The legislators then were caught flat-footed and only Marcos had the license to realign funds. Aquino tried to become a dictator, too but he lacked the intelligence and the strong will. He is good though, at punishing political enemies while coddling his friends and allies.

    13. Ano ba naman ang mapapala ng mga masa sa lahing traydor(makapili ng panahon ng mga hapon ang lolo ni ABNOY) at lahing balasubas(panlilinlang sa p[agkakuha ng Luisita ng mga ninuno ni ABNOY).Ang alam lang gawin ng ABNOY ay maghiganti,manuhol,manigarilyo at maglaro ng video games ang gago.

    14. don’t worry, their time is nearly up. only less than 6 months remaining, and Noynoy and Abad will soon go to jail once Noynoy is out of Malacanang.

      • Who will arrest and jail them ?

        Will they go after the 19 senators that took 50 million each to convict ex Supreme Court Justice Corona ?

        Will they go after the pork barrel thieves that De Lima and Morales refused to investigate ?

        Will Roxas do this if he wins ?

        Will Poe ? who all the Aquino appointee’s are protecting.
        Poe buried the SAF 44 report by giving it to the Ombudsman to shield Aquino. Poe is Aquino’s other horse running in the race.