The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also known as “Pork Barrel” is intended to assist the government officials to start a project for the benefit of the society. A government official is actually voted for the platforms that they are promising to the people. Most of these platforms are for the development of the education, health, agriculture and economic growth. Of all of those promises, how many were made? How many were accomplished? How many people benefited from it? Have we seen the progress our country is experiencing? This PDAF is actually taken from the people’s taxes and this money is being stolen by our unworthy and corrupt government leaders. Although Pork Barrel is essential in assisting the government officials to create development in the country, it must be banned because most officials only spend it to satisfy their personal interest, it is used for vote-buying by most politicians during elections and the development done from fund this is slow and minimal.
The Pork Barrel system according to Solita Collas-Monsod, is actually taken from the US Congress. Its three main purposes are — it could be spend in a locality to the benefit of the legislator’s constituents, it supplies funds for local improvements designed to ingratiate legislators with their constituents and it uses government funds on local projects that are primarily used to bring more money to a specific representative’s district. Among the three purposes, we could define it as the money for development. It is innately beneficial in empowering our people but what is actually happening now is that the government officials are putting the money into their pockets to be used for personal interests. Due to the thirst for wealth, the vision of a true leader which is to be a public servant without asking anything in return is blurred and forgotten. As officials have the capacity to control the money, it is an opportunity for them to corrupt the taxpayers’ money. The money may be used for a specific and personal business of the politician, it may be used to buy products for personal satisfaction and the money may be deposited in the politicians’ bank account for personal use in the future. In what way could they steal the money? According to Gil C. Cabacungan, a writer from Philippine Daily Inquirer, there was bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) between 2010 and 2012. An estimate of P500 million of the PDAF went to these fake NGOs through the state-owned Philippine Forest Corp. which is the agroforestry branch of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the office of Agriculture Secretary and National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) which is the agriculture department’s corporate subsidiary. This misuse of the assistance fund is still not included to the network of fake NGOs that Janet Lim-Napoles had created to own P10 billion from the Pork Barrel. According to a reliable website, http://www.gmanetwork.com, “Pork barrel funds are notorious not only for being susceptible to corruption, but also for being used by the executive branch as political leverage with the legislature.” These NGOs could have been created in order to support the agricultural sector of the Philippines to increase our economy and build up a progressive country.
During elections, a lot of our government officials court the people to vote for them by sharing their platforms, by the credibility they have as a leader and unfortunately, politicians also use their pork barrels to buy votes most especially to the poor and uneducated enough. As stated in a reliable website, http://www. inquirer.net, at least P21 billion a year of taxpayers’ money were used to buy votes instead of more efficiently and equitably used for the welfare of the Filipino people. It gives incumbent legislators an unfair advantage over their electoral opponents, because of the projects (if successfully implemented) they bring, or the money (if pocketed) they can use to buy votes. The “servants” of the people take advantage of their bosses with impunity. As stated by Solita Collas-Monsod, a supporter of abolishing the Pork Barrel and an Opinion writer of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “Do not tax my patience by saying that not all legislators are involved. True. But they haven’t done a thing about it either. All it takes for evil to triumph.” A lot of money from the PDAF were allocated in order to buy their votes.
As an educated citizen of the country, I could not see the progress of our country. The Pork Barrel’s official name is Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). From the name itself, it must be allocated to provide quality-service and basic needs of the people. Due to corruption, if there was actually a development they are making, I could only see a pint of it. As our legislators would swear, they never did handle any of the money involved in the projects and only choose the projects wherein it holds the qualification bracket set up by the Department of Budget and Management. The pork barrel of a House legislator is at least P70 million every year while a senator owns P200 million worth of pork per year. That is actually huge money wherein it could be put into the pockets of the legislators and their private-sectors prohibiting the money to be passed on to the local constituents in order to increase the development most especially in the rural areas. With over huge money to be allocated for development, it is only spent for minimal and irrelevant blueprints such as basketball courts, undersized bridges and flyovers, waiting sheds, covered courts, scholarships, roads. These were constructed but unmaintained and inefficient for the local improvements. The basketball courts, waiting sheds and covered courts, bridges and flyovers were even built by insubstantial frameworks when in fact there is a sufficient allocated amount of money to provide and use the best quality of materials. These infrastructures were even neglected even if it needs renovation and if these public services were not strong enough, it may lead to accidents which would then cost more damage. The PDAF should not only focus more on these minor projects. Since the PDAF is utilizing a huge part of the national budget, it must be used to significant projects such as airports with complete utilities, highways, seaports, power plants, development for higher standards of education, schools, hospitals, tourism improvement and the like. Not only could be the PDAF be utilized in the most appropriate manner, it could give support to the regional and national development. It could also give opportunities for the people to have education which then could also lessen the unemployment rate in the country as well. Unfortunately, this is only the ideal vision on how to allocate the funds. In reality, the national funds are used up to provide minimal improvements which lead to a waste of money.
The purpose of this fund is actually not done. The capacity of the legislators to implement services and receive PDAF for it were abused and used for personal interests instead for the welfare of the people. During elections, they use the fund to “assist” them to buy votes from the uneducated people and create promises which are then meant to be forgotten. Lastly, the actual progress of our country is slow and only a little when in fact this PDAF is provided to give quality services and create infrastructures. Therefore, if our government officials would use up the people’s money into minor public services or even corrupt it, the PDAF must be abolished.