MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED)– When the alleged pork barrel scam broke out, President Benigno Aquino III did not address it – did not mention it at all – in his State of the Nation Address. When various sectors called for congressional investigations into the anomaly, he finally made known his stand: the pork barrel will stay.
In fact, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the discretionary allocation for senators and congressmen, more than doubled under the Aquino administration, from what his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allocated.
Before Arroyo stepped down, the last PDAF allocated was for the year 2010, at P10.86 billion. When the Aquino administration passed its first budget, for 2011, the allocation skyrocketed to P24.62 billion.
The increase in the PDAF allocation during the Aquino administration resulted from the consolidation of the “hard” and “soft” projects of the pork barrel. In the past, “hard” projects are allocated under various local infrastructure project (VLIP) and reflected as part of the DPWH budget.
Back then, Aquino justified this action, saying that when used equally across the regions, “the pork barrel can be an equalizer to the local government units.”
Aquino could be referring to the practice during Arroyo’s time, where a few favored lawmakers, aside from getting their PDAF, were allowed to make additional budget insertions. In effect, the Aquino administration claimed, they took those selective insertions out and added them to the PDAF allocation and distributed them to all lawmakers.
Here’s a quick look at the pork barrel allocation over the last 6 years: