Priority Development Assistance Fund scam
I. Issues on Problems:
The Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, also called the PDAF scam or the pork barrel scam, is a political scandal involving the alleged misuse by several members of the Congress of the Philippines of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF, popularly called "pork barrel"), a lump-sum discretionary fund granted to each member of Congress for spending on priority development projects of the Philippine government, mostly on the local level. The scam was first exposed in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 12, 2013, with the six-part exposé of the Inquirer on the scam pointing to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles as the scam's mastermind after Benhur K. Luy, her second cousin and former personal assistant, was rescued by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation on March 22, 2013, four months after he was detained by Napoles at her unit at the Pacific Plaza Towers in Fort Bonifacio. Initially centering on Napoles' involvement in the 2004 Fertilizer Fund scam, the government investigation on Luy's testimony has since expanded to cover Napoles' involvement in a wider scam involving the misuse of PDAF funds from 2003 to 2013. It is estimated that the Philippine government was defrauded of some ₱10 billion in the course of the scam, having been diverted to Napoles, participating members of Congress and other government officials. Aside from the PDAF and the fertilizer fund maintained by the Department of Agriculture, around ₱900 million in royalties earned from the Malampaya gas field were also lost to the scam. The scam has provoked public outrage, with calls being made on the Internet for popular protests to demand the abolition of the PDAF, and the order for Napoles' arrest sparking serious discussion online. II. Text and Background:
Although the history of pork barrel-like discretionary funds in the Philippines dates back to 1922, during the American colonial period, the PDAF in its current form was only established during the administration of Corazon Aquino with the creation of the Countryside Development Fund (CDF) in 1990. With ₱2.3 billion in initial funding, the CDF was designed to allow legislators to fund small-scale infrastructure or community projects which fell outside the scope of the national infrastructure program, which was often restricted to large infrastructure items. The CDF was later renamed the PDAF in 2000, during the administration of Joseph Estrada. Since 2008, every member of the House of Representatives usually receives an annual PDAF allocation of ₱70 million, while every senator receives an annual allocation of ₱200 million. The President also benefits from a PDAF-like allocation, the President's Social Fund (PSF), worth around ₱1 billion. Contrary to public belief, however, PDAF allocations are not actually released to members of Congress. Rather, disbursements under the PDAF are coursed via implementing agencies of the Philippine government, and are limited to "soft" and "hard" projects: the former largely referring to non-infrastructure projects (such as scholarships and financial assistance programs, although small infrastructure projects are also considered "soft" projects), and the latter referring to infrastructure projects which would be coursed via the Department of Public Works and Highways. Because presidential systems are often prone to political gridlock, the PDAF is often used as a means to generate majority legislative support for the programs of the executive. Furthermore, because PDAF allocations are released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), PDAF allocations are often dependent on the relationship a legislator has with the sitting President. For example, during the latter years of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, she was more generous in allocating PDAF funds in the annual national budget in order to win the favor of legislators. PDAF allocation has gradually...
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