Malacañang speaks with a forked tongue. It says the graft-ridden PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) has been abolished by President Aquino. Not totally true.
The name PDAF has been abolished, true, but the pork barrel is alive and well. P-Noy himself spoke with a forked tongue when he announced “it is time to abolish the PDAF” to calm the anger of the people against the hated pork barrel.
What he abolished was only the name. The pork barrel is still hidden in nooks and crannies in the national budget. The PDAF budget was distributed to different executive agencies but it is reserved for senators and congressmen. It is just a variation of congressional insertions. Lawmakers will still identify projects to be funded by those insertions.
Congressional insertions are items inserted into the national budget during budget hearings. A congressman, more often than not a member of the appropriations committee, will tell the Cabinet member being grilled: “We won’t make it hard for you. We will pass your budget but I will insert an appropriation for a project in your budget. That item is mine only. I will identify for what and to whom that appropriation will be used.”
The Cabinet member, not wanting to go through the wringer, will agree. And another form of pork barrel is born.
What the people—P-Noy’s boss—want is for all forms of pork barrel—PDAF, DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program), congressional insertions, the lump-sum funds of the President—to be outlawed permanently.
If the Supreme Court rules the pork barrel as unconstitutional, then all forms of pork barrel, including the President’s, will be outlawed. That is why Mr. Aquino’s spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, in reaction to Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s remark that the pork barrel is “riddled with unconstitutionalities,” that the PDAF has been abolished. It was to head off a decision by the high court declaring the pork barrel unconstitutional.