Fact checks on public officials

FALSE: PDAF is part of Constitution, ‘legacy’ of Cory Aquino

Rappler
FALSE: PDAF is part of Constitution, ‘legacy’ of Cory Aquino
(UPDATED) The pork barrel system in general and the PDAF in particular were never part of the Constitution and was declared unconstitutional in 2013. Pork barrel in the Philippines started in 1922.
At a glance:
  • Claim: The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel is part of the Constitution and was the “legacy” of former president Cory Aquino.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: The pork barrel system in general and the PDAF in particular were never part of the Constitution and was declared unconstitutional in 2013. Pork barrel in the Philippines started in 1922.
  • Why we fact-checked this: A Rappler reader sent this claim for verification. The post containing the claim has around 2,500 reactions, 257 comments, and 2,100 shares as of writing.
Complete details:

A post by Facebook page “PSSAP Underground Media” tackling the Disbursement Acceleration Program claimed that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel is part of the Constitution and was the “legacy” of former president Cory Aquino.

The PDAF was a lump-sum appropriation that funded the government’s priority development programs and projects. It was also known as a pork barrel system since legislators could decide on the allocations and uses of certain funds and budget items.

Part of the post’s caption reads, “Buti pa nga yung PDAF or Pork Barrel na legacy ng nanay nyang si Cory at least nasa konstitusyun natin…” (At least the PDAF or Pork Barrel, which was the legacy of [Benigno Aquino III’s mother] Cory, is in our Constitution.)

FALSE PDAF is part of the Constitution

A Rappler reader sent this claim for verification. The post had around 2,500 reactions, 257 comments, and 2,100 shares as of writing.

The claim is false. The PDAF, along with provisions of past congressional pork barrel laws and similar informal practices, among others, was declared unconstitutional in 2013 by the Supreme Court (SC).

Its decision made no mention of the pork barrel system being a part of the Constitution. Among the reasons that the SC cited for its abolition of pork barrel funds are violations of constitutional provisions on the separation of powers and local autonomy.

It is also false to refer to PDAF and pork barrel interchangeably – “PDAF or pork barrel” – thus making it appear that the pork barrel system was Aquino’s legacy. A 2016 publication from the Department of Budget and Management, entitled “Kuwento Sa Bawat Kuwenta: A Story of Budget and Management Reforms 2010-2016,” says that pork barrel in the Philippines originated from the Public Works Act of 1922. The pork barrel has only taken on various forms and names under different administrations, PDAF being its iteration under the Aquino administration. 

The Public Works Act of 1922 made post-enactment approval of both chambers of Congress a requirement for the use and distribution of funds for public works projects such as local roads, piers, and telegraph and telephone lines, among others.

When former dictator Ferdinand Marcos seized control of the legislature after declaring Martial Law in 1972, the fund ended. But in 1982, the Support for Local Development Projects lump-sum item, which reportedly worked like pork, was introduced to the national budget. This ended in 1986.

A pork barrel system was then implemented when Aquino became president through the Mindanao Development Fund (MDF), Visayas Development Fund (VDF), and Country Development Fund (CDF). 

According to the Commission on Audit’s ABC Help System for Jurisprudence, in 1989, the MDF and VDF were created with lump-sum appropriations to fund development projects in Mindanao and Visayas, respectively. These were later replaced by the CDF after Luzon legislators asked for similar funding. The CDF started being included in the GAA in 1990.

After the CDF was removed from the GAA in 1999, it was replaced by the Food Security Program Fund, Lingap Para Sa Mahihirap Program Fund, and Rural/Urban Development Infrastructure Program Fund. All 3 funds required “prior consultation” with members of Congress before they could be released.

Another pork barrel system was added to the GAA through the PDAF in 2000. – Margarita Gonzalez, Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com

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