Social Watch Philippines marches against “pork barrel”

Thousands march against
pork barrels.
(Photo: VoA)

“The abolition of the pork barrel system should be total” said Leonor Briones, lead convenor Social Watch Philippines, to a Congressional committee in Manila, bringing to legislators the message that hundreds of thousands of people had reaffirmed in the streets during marches against corruption in the previous days.

“Pork barrel” is the popular name of a system that allows members of parliament the direct allocation of budget funds to pet projects in their constituencies. Some “pork barrel amount to the equivalent of four million dollars a year.

The president himself manages a “pork barrel fund” of some 500 million dollars and several items of the Special Purpose Funds (SPF) in the national budget for 2014. “SPFs breed corruption. How can Congress scrutinize the SPF when there is no detail? It is just one chart in the budget documents and one line in the summary papers,” SWP said Briones.

Adding up pork barrel funds and the president's own discretionary budget lines, Social Watch has concluded that 2 billion dollars a year could be added to the social services and poverty eradication campaigns by a transparent use of taxpayers money.

The discovery of blatant cases of corruption imbedded in the network of hundreds of obscure “pork barrels” that end up frequently in façade “NGOs” led people to take the streets in protests.

“Legislators should just concentrate on lawmaking and not compete with one another in convincing the departments to implement their pet projects or provide help to their constituents” said Briones, who was formerly Secretary of the Treasury. “Congress should really disengage from participation because in my own interpretation of the Constitution, the function of the legislative branch is really to enact laws, and the function of the executive is to implement those laws, and the judiciary would settle the dispute.”

Sources: Inquirer News; Business Mirror; ALJAZEERA