Manila, Philippines – The Supreme Court rules that the Priority Development Assistant Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel allocated for senators and congressmen is legal.
The ruling was made by the High Tribunal based on the petition filed by the Lawyers Against Monopoly and Poverty (LAMP) questioning the constitutionality of the PDAF and contending that said fund could have been used to serve the personal interests of politicians.
Contrary to common perception, the 70 million pesos per congressman and 200 million pesos per senator are not disbursed directly to the politicians. The pork barrel system calls for the congressmen and senators to identify the project/s to which the PDAF will be allocated.
Ideally, the system lends to responsive development because the representative of the people to the legislature know what their constituencies need.
The PDAF is actually released to the agencies of the Executive Department that are responsible for the implementation of the projects.
What personal interests of politicians may be served through the pork barrel system?
Others claim that the system is susceptible to corruption. This will only happen if the implementing agencies will connive with politicians and award the projects to the “favored” contractors of politicians. If this happens, it is clear that the implementation of PDAF system is illegal and not the fund or the system itself.
It is undeniable that the politicians “benefit” from the PDAF system by the goodwill they earn from the development projects they deliver to their constituents.
The fact that is even if congressmen and senators are primarily tasked to craft laws their constituents expect them to deliver services and projects like roads, school buildings, medical assistance, and scholarships, among others. It is clearly not illegal for our lawmakers to deliver such projects and services. The system that allows our lawmakers to do the same is clearly not illegal as well.
Like most laws, policies and programs of the government, the problem is on the implementation. With the thrust of the Aquino Administration to lead our country and people to the daang matuwid, reforms should center on how programs, projects, policies and laws are implemented.