A short history of the pork barrel

Posted at 08/26/2013 12:38 PM

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MANILA - Political analyst Tony La Viña on Monday gave a short primer on the history of the pork barrel system amid the current controversy over its misuse.

Speaking to ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda, La Viña said the term "pork barrel" is meant to be an insult. He said the pork barrel is tied to American history wherein slave owners gave their slaves a barrel of salted pork that they would have to fight over.

He said the term pork barrel was then used for any allocated budget for lawmakers.

La Viña said the Americans used the pork barrel to "divide and rule the Philippine assembly" in 1916.

"There were Filipinos who wanted independence. Some wanted statehood so some Americans used the pork barrel to appease their allies," he said.

During martial law, then President Ferdinand Marcos abolished the pork barrel and distributed the money instead to his cronies.

"During martial law, there was no pork barrel but that doesn't mean there was no corruption. The money just went to the cronies of Marcos. Malaking corruption din yun," he said.

La Viña said he believes President Aquino can abolish the priority development assistance funds of lawmakers, saying the President was sincere when he said the PDAF system is "unreformable."

"Ang sakit ng DPAF is that the lawmaker is entitled. He can use it any way he wants which is incorrect because it is not his money," he said.

However, he noted that Malacañang must be consistent in the release of funds.

"You cannot release funds to an ally and not release to an opposition," he said.

He also questioned why Budget Secretary Butch Abad still allocated P24 billion in pork barrel funds in the proposed 2014 budget.

"Sa tingin ko problem pa rin na nag allocate ka dahil pag hahati-hatian," he said.

ABS-CBN Umagang Kay Ganda, August 26, 2013