The pork barrel system has had a long history in Philippine politics.
The terms Congressional Initiative Allocation (CIA), Countrywide Development Fund (CDF), and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) have all been used to refer to pork or the funds earmarked for the local pet projects of legislators.
The use of pork is said to date back to the 1920s and 1930s during the American occupation. Pork at the time was supposedly used as a discretionary fund of legislators belonging to the ruling party. But it was discontinued after the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and abolished Congress.
After the EDSA People Power Revolt, pork allocation was revived in the 8th Congress in 1987.
A paper titled “Understanding the Pork Barrel”, that was co-authored by former House Speaker Prospero C. Nograles and former appropriations committee chair Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, traced the history of pork in the post-EDSA era. They wrote that the congressional allocation was dubbed “albeit, inaccurately, as ‘pork barrel’” even though it had “definitive parameters, equal apportionments, built-in accountability, and clear transparency.”
In 1989, the Mindanao Development Fund and the Visayas Development Fund were created with lump appropriations of P480 million and P240 million, respectively. Using these funds, lawmakers with constituencies in the Visayas and Mindanao were authorized to identify development projects worth P10 million per district.
Nograles and Lagman said that the creation of these funds prompted legislators from Luzon to assert that they, too, needed funds for their local projects. Thus, in 1990, the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) was created for projects to be implemented in all congressional districts.
With an initial funding of P2.3 billion, the CDF was supposedly designed to support small local infrastructure and other priority community projects, which were not included in the national infrastructure program of massive and expensive projects.
Journalist Earl Parreño, author of the chapter on pork in PCIJ’s book, Pork and Other Perks: Corruption and Governance in the Philippines, said that each lawmaker was assigned P12.5 million of CDF every year. In succeeding years, the amount grew steadily as “special purpose funds” and insertions in the budgets of executive departments and agencies started to creep into the national budget. At the time, legislators drew amounts for their pet projects from at least five different sources of pork barrel allocations.
The first of these funds is the School Building Fund, which was originally part of the budget of the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS, now the Department of Education or DepEd). Created in 1995, the School Building Fund allowed each legislator access to P4.5 million a year, supposedly for the construction of school buildings in his or her district.
In 1995, each legislator was also allotted P500,000 for the construction of farm-to-market roads, using funds from the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
In addition, the legislators also allotted themselves P30 million each per year from the Public Works Fund (PWF).
Each lawmaker also had at least P15 million in Congressional Initiative Allocation (CIA) every year.
CIAs are budget items incorporated in allocations for various agencies over which legislators exercised the power to direct, how, where, and when these amounts were to be disbursed. Most of these funds were inserted in the budgets of DepEd, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Health (DOH).
Parreño wrote that the higher the rank of the legislator, the bigger the CIAs he could get. Senior committee chairpersons, for instance, could then draw up to P100 million per year in CIAs, he added.
In the year 2000, the CDF morphed into what is now known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF. Under the PDAF system, each district and party-list representative gets P70 million a year, while each of the 24 senators, P200 million a year, of pork allocations.
House members may spend a maximum of P30 million on “soft” projects (education, health, and other social services projects), and the remaining P40 million, on “hard” or infrastructure projects. The senators, meanwhile, may spend P100 million on soft projects, and another P100 million on hard projects.
Legislators are required to choose from a menu of projects, by general categories, in the annual GAA. The 2013 GAA, for instance, lists at least seven types of programs and projects that can be funded by PDAF: education, health, livelihood, social services, peace and order and security, arts and culture, and public infrastructure projects. — Karol Ilagan, PCIJ 2013
(See related story: The flow of pork.)
Nograles, Prospero C. and Edcel C. Lagman, Understanding the Pork Barrel, House of Representatives.
Coronel, Sheila S. (ed), et al. Pork and Other Perks: Corruption and Governance in the Philippines, Quezon City: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 1998.