Press Release
July 31, 2013


The Senate is poised to cut in half the pork barrel of senators and congressmen for 2014, then further cut in half the reduce the amount by 2015, and thus abolish the pork barrel by 2016.

"This will phase out the pork barrel, so that the gradual abolition will be acceptable to Congress members," said Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes, and laws.

Santiago filed on 31 July 2013, a Resolution calling for the phasing out of the pork barrel by 2016.

Under the Santiago proposal, the PDAF will be phased out as follows: (a) For senators: From P200M to P100M in 2014; P50M in 2015; nil in 2016; and (b) For congressmen: From P70M to P35M in 2014; P15M in 2015; nil in 2016.

Currently, the PDAF allocated to each senator is P200 million per year, and P70 million to each congressman per year. For a full term of six years, a senator is expected to receive P1.2 billion, while a congressman is expected to receive P210 million for each three-year term. In practice, some receive more, others less, than their regular pork barrel.

"Of course, the best solution is to discontinue the pork barrel system by reducing what has been proposed by the President in the 2014 budget for PDAF to zero," Santiago said. "Senators and congressmen are expected to pass laws and exercise oversight functions over the Executive Department's implementation of existing laws. We are not expected to build roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects."

According to the senator, by deleting the appropriations for PDAF, the President cannot resurrect it through line item veto.

"It is important that the full amount be reduced if the legislators are serious is abolishing the pork barrel. Reducing the PDAF appropriations to even one peso is dangerous, because then the President may choose to augment the peso appropriations with several billions which is allowed under the Constitution," she explained.

Santiago expects that her proposal for the total abolition of the pork barrel will meet strong opposition in both the Senate and the House.

"This is why the second best solution is to gradually phase out the PDAF. This will give senators and congressmen time to adjust to the new rules," she said.

According to Santiago, a congressman has constituencies from a defined geographic jurisdiction.

"Many voters, rightly or wrongly, expect their congressman to 'bring home the bacon' to the district, in the form of capital projects. Each congressman could do this by availing of the pork barrel," she said.

"We are legislators, not public works contractors," Santiago said. "People look up to us to make serious laws that could change the lives of a great number of people or could change the way society is run or managed."

Santiago also made the following proposals to tighten the rules on the use of the PDAF, until it is fully abolished:

  • The fund should be used strictly for "hard" projects and releases should be limited to national government agencies.

  • Local government units should not be eligible recipients of the fund. Releases to LGUs have been abused in the past, especially when the local chief executives (governors, city mayors, and municipal mayors) are relatives of legislators.

  • PDAF should not be released to government-owned or -controlled corporations, which may later on be released to NGOs, fictitious or quasi-NGOs, or NGOs headed by the relatives of politicians.

  • No public funds should be released to NGOs. This strict rule should be non-negotiable. In keeping with the spirit of volunteerism, NGOs are supposed to give aid to society, using funds they raised on their own, not public funds.

  • Scholarships should not be allowed; they are the responsibility of the more than 125 state universities and colleges.

  • The proposal to designate the DSWD as gatekeeper to congressional pork should be rejected, as the 2014 President's Budget contains a special provision on the use of PDAF, which states that "only NGOs accredited by the DSWD will be eligible as recipient or implementing agency." This politicizes an agency that is supposed to be apolitical, an agency responsible for improving the lives of Filipino regardless of their political color. This gives the DSWD the right to choose "friendly" NGOs and reject "unfriendly" NGOs. This proposed special provision constitutes undue delegation of the congressional power of the purse to an unelected Department Secretary. This is a cure worse than the disease.

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