10 Reasons Pork Barrel Will Never Be Abolished

RIP pork barrel? Photo by MAILA AGER/INQUIRER.net
RIP pork barrel? Photo by MAILA AGER/INQUIRER.net

We’ve heard so much fuss about and calls for pork barrel abolition since so-called ‘porky queen’ Janet Lim-Napoles disappeared off the public and media radar.

Just this week a group of concerned citizens  fed up with shameless corruption in the public sector vowed to gather a million people at Rizal Park in Manila on Aug. 26 to demand the total abolition of pork barrel.

In an attempt to free ride on this social-media led campaign and to somehow show his sympathy, President B.S. Aquino said “we should really be disgusted with the abuses in the (use) of PDAF.” However, his “no to pork barrel abolition” remains unperturbed.

Like the past Edsa I and II revolutions, this ongoing public outrage over pork barrel misuse is just an emotional reaction to abuse of trust and power by public officials. The mere fact that Napoles, a private individual and non-politician, has become the poster girl for greed and pork barrel scam shows some people’s inability to grasp the roots of corruption.

As stated in a previous post, Napoles could not have done it and gone too far without the consent, indispensable collaboration and protection of some corrupt, enterprising politicians who knew how to game the system.

Abolish pork barrel, you say? Forget it! It’s all a pipe dream It’s not going to happen. Let me explain why.

1. You are part of this mess!

Here’s what millions of Filipinos don’t know– they are part of the system. The PDAF was created and established in the name of the poor and the greater good.

People seem to think election is just a regular, periodic event that takes place every three years (or every six years for presidential and vice presidential elections). Well, it’s now time for the people to understand that election has consequences. You want an extreme example? Look at what’s happening in Egypt today. After ‘democratically’ electing notorious theocrat Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government, the Egyptians went back to the streets a year later to demand his ouster.

By electing corrupt, unprincipled, irresponsible politicians, you’ve made yourself a party to a social crime. We are part of the system.

2. People’s palamunin culture

They say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I grew up in the province where I witnessed how local politicians turned the election process into a cheap black market where people willingly, eagerly sold their votes– and soul– for just a few bucks. The lucky ones– those who knew how to game the system– got a couple of grand.

Why would a politician invest millions and risk his life just to be a public ‘servant’ for at least three years? It’s because they know politics is a big, lucrative business in these parts. Look at the poorest provinces and communities in the country. Who’s driving brand new SUVs and who owns protected businesses? The local political elite, of course. Politicians’ primary motivation is money.

Now, why would a congressional candidate, whose aspired job is to make laws, promise new roads, new livelihood programs, new public school buildings, etc. during the election campaign? Where will he get the money? Well, we all know elected lawmakers are guaranteed multi-million pork money a year (P200 million for senators and P70 for congressmen).

However, it’s the people’s entitlement or palamunin mentality that perpetuates corruption in the government. Remember that corruption is not simply about stealing public money. It’s more about corrupting or destroying the entire system for political or even ideological gain. Ever heard the term “21st century plantation”?

I think actress/politician Lani Mercado was somehow right when she said: Basta ‘wag lang manghihingi sa amin ang mga tao!” May punto naman siya kahit papano. I give her credit for her brutal honesty.


3. We are a 21st century plantation

The history of the term pork barrel is closely related to plantations in the United States over 100 years ago. Pork barrel is a derogatory term that describes the practice of 19th century plantation owners of doling out barrels of salt pork to slaves to encourage them to compete among themselves to get their share of the handout.

Now our modern-day plantation is simply an improved, modernized version of the old one. Each lawmaker is guaranteed his pork barrel, which he/she will use to buy people’s votes, directly or indirectly. Of course, they have their own profit-sharing system to enrich themselves and satisfy their greed, as we’ve learned from the ongoing pork scam exposes.

In reality, there are several types of slave drivers or plantation owners here:

  • The President who has billions or even more than P1 trillion PDAF, according to reports. The president can use pork barrel to gain and expand his power base– either by rewarding his allies with more pork money or punishing his critics by withholding or impounding pork release. For instance, the President has his own Malampaya fund, PAGCOR money amounting to billions, among others.
  • The senate president also has his own pork barrel. Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile faced criticisms for his unequal distribution of cash gifts to members of the Senate.
  • The Speaker of the House. The speaker’s pork can be used to protect the president against impeachment complaints and to pass laws personally supported and lobbied for by the president.
  • Local kingpins– governors, mayors and local politicians.

4. It’s now part of our politics 

Once our politicians pass or introduce something that benefits themselves, it will take generations or even a revolution to get rid of it.

Here’s an excerpt of the controversial COA report about the origin of pork barrel in the Philippines:


You want to abolish it? Good luck!

5. It takes a change in mindset to get rid of it

To abolish pork barrel, we must be ready for a limited system of government– a system that limits both the political and fiscal powers of our politicians.

But what does pork barrel abolition mean to ordinary Filipinos? Well, it simply means they must stop asking money and favors from our politicians.

In other words, the people should get rid of their palamunin mentality first. It’s actually the people who shape their society in their own image. As long as the people feel they’re entitled to almost everything (e.g., food, education, housing, transportation, medicines, etc.) our 21st Century Plantation is here to stay, and it will get worse until we run out of people’s money.

Wait! Haven’t we already run out of money? Perhaps this explains why our public officials are scrambling to think of new ways to tax the people to death!

The more you ask, the more they’re justified to keep our plantation system and to think of more creative ways to fool us.


6. The vicious cycle of corruption is not what you think it is!

As stated, there is a need to redefine our own concept of corruption. There is worse type of corruption than mere theft or plunder. It’s called systemic corruption that does not merely destroy our institutions– that is, when our laws no longer protect us against criminals in the government– but it also corrupts the people’s mindset and the moral fabric of our society.

For example, when you support the confiscation of the private property, businesses and income of other people to support so-called public services or in the name of the greater good, what makes you think the system that you upheld and supported will not effect you in the long run?

There’s this great pre-World War II poem that shows the danger of a scheming statist government. It was titled “First They Came…” 

Every intrusive statist law in the past was implemented on a piecemeal basis. First the government came for the high-income earners to pay for it’s ever-increasing expenditures. Then it came for small businesses, and then it came for the sari-sari store owners and online sellers. The list goes on ad infinitum until the vicious system comes to get you.

The truth is, the Philippines is currently in a pre-socialist state. But we’re going there through a long legislative process of legal corruption. And this is the worst type of corruption that could ever happen in this counrty.

Napoles and her cohorts in the government cannot destroy this semi-socialist nation. The solution to pork barrel misuse, according to the President, is release suspension. Which means we can simply delay this type of money-based corruption. But with systemic corruption, a nation can collapse overnight. Look at Cuba, Venezuela and Greece.

The Greeks were somehow lucky they didn’t have Napoleses, Enriles, Bongbong Marcoses, B.S. Aquinos, etc. In fact they were somehow too lucky their public officials gave them almost everything they wanted– from free education to free health care to free services, and so on. To finance all these “free” services, they borrowed too much money against the EU rules, and now they proposed to increase taxes. Unmitigated, uncontrolled government spending went on for years until the Greek government ran out of money and finally defaulted. Now the entire country is in grave economic crisis. The Greek politicians destroyed their economy with the help and support of their own people. Very ironically, the Greeks are protesting for more services when they’re aware their government cannot even pay for the salary of its employees.

I believe the Greek tragedy is happening in the country today.

7. B.S. Aquino said NO!

But he didn’t simply say “No”; he also rationalized his justification for keeping politicians’ pork barrel alive.

B.S. Aquino said:

“Will it (the antipork barrel protest) change (my position)? I listen to various opinions. Of course, we want to perfect the system. Let’s just be reminded that all this (misuse of PDAF) happened during the past administration which, compared to us, had a different policy (on PDAF disbursements).”

Yes, he said he listens to people’s opinions, yet his position is final: No to pork barrel abolition.

He added:

“Will it (the antipork barrel protest) change (my position)? I listen to various opinions. Of course, we want to perfect the system. Let’s just be reminded that all this (misuse of PDAF) happened during the past administration which, compared to us, had a different policy (on PDAF disbursements).”

So, there you have it, folks. Pork barrel is here to stay!

Click image for the story.
Click image for the story.

8. The boys and girls can’t live without it. 

As already stated, one way to control political power is through pork barrel. And as expected, many lawmakers are strongly against its abolition.

In the Senate for example, while two senators– Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Francis Escudero– decided to junk their respective pork barrel funds, some members still want to keep theirs. Only a few members said it’s time to abolish pork barrel.

One of them was, of course, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who was among those implicated in the pork barrel scam.

“It looks like it’s time for the total abolition of the PDAF. Dapat pati yung mga insertions hindi na rin payagan (Even in the insertions should not also be allowed),” Revilla said in this Inquirer story.

Senator  Teofisto  Guingona  III, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon  committee, said he “will vote for the abolition of the pork barrel.”

Others who expressed the same view were Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senators Loren Legarda, and Jose Victor “JV” Ejercito.

It’s safe to say “no” for media purposes only. The people demand an actual investigation and voting process!

How about the neophytes?

Sen. Nancy Binay tried to play safe, saying: “I would rather wait for the final result of the probe before calling for regulation or abolition. At the moment, I support the suspension (of PDAF) based on the reasons laid down by the President.”

Neophyte Senators Bam Aquino and Grace Poe said they won’t mind abolishing pork barrel. However, in an earlier interview with the press, Poe said she’s against it abolition.

“Hindi ako magpapakaplastik no… Ang pork barrel kasi pagkakataon ng isang senador o kongresista na mapondohan yung kanyang mga adbokasiya na makatulong,” Poe said.

I bet most lawmakers in the lower house still want to keep their pork money.

9. The pork suspension does the trick!

The premise of B.S. Aquino’s “No to Pork Abolition” is– ‘better suspend it than sorry’. In fact this move is politically beneficial to the president, because it is tantamount to what is known as budget impoundment or impounding. We imported this American practice during the Marcosian era through Presidential Decree No. 1177.

Section 43 of Presidential Decree No. 1177, as amended or the “Budget Reform Decree of 1977 is quoted  as follows:

“Suspension of expenditure of Appropriations.  Except as otherwise provided in the General Appropriations Act and whenever in his judgment the public interest so requires, the President, upon notice to the head of office concerned, is authorized to suspend or otherwise stop further expenditure of funds allotted for any agency, or any other expenditure authorized in the General Appropriations Act, except for personal services appropriation used for permanent officials and employees.”

During the presidency of Gloria Arroyo, budget impounding was specified in the Republic Act No. 9970 or the General Appropriations Act of 2010.  

Depending on how you see it, B.S. Aquino may turn his pork suspension into a political tool to widen his power base.

U.S. President Nixon tried to use his so-called impoundment authority to increase his power by not releasing appropriated funds. The American impoundment system are divided into two categories– deferrals and rescission. Deferrals take place when the president directs the Congress to delay the release of appropriated funds, while rescission takes place when the president asks Congress to cancel the appropriation of funds altogether.

It appears B.S. Aquino merely used deferral when he declared the suspension of pork barrel release. Is he covered? NOPE!

One of the most statist, draconian rules in politics is, never let a crisis to go to waste. I think that’s exactly what B.S. Aquino did by impounding pork barrel or the budget. And that makes him more powerful. Thus, the only solution is pork barrel ABOLITION!

 10. They will use a new pork barrel system

The President just announced it’s time to abolish pork barrel. The truth is, the plan is to replace the existing graft-ridden PDAF with his proposed “more transparent” allocation system. So this means pork barrel is here to stay with its new, improved name and dole-out system.

Read this article to know what I’m talking about. 



  1. I’m sorry but I think you are mistaken. Filipinos do not have palamunin mentality. It’s called starvation and poverty. They are not asking these politicians for money when the money is supposed to be for them to begin with, they do not even need to “beg” for it. That money is the people’s money, and these people you refer to as palamunin have all the rights to claim their benefits. This article is misleading.

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