THE HISTORY OF THE PRIORITY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTAANCE FUND(PDAF)/PORK BARREL
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•The term pork barrel politics usually refers to spending which is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes. In the popular 1863 story “The Children of the Public”, Edward Everett Hale used the term pork barrel as a homely metaphor for any form of public spending to the citizenry. After the American Civil War, however, the term came to be used in a derogatory sense. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the modern sense of the term from 1873. By the 1870s, references to “pork” were common in Congress, and the term was further popularized by a 1919 article by Chester Collins Maxey in the National Municipal Review, which reported on certain legislative acts known to members of Congress as “pork barrel bills”.
He claimed that the phrase originated in a pre-Civil War practice of giving slaves a barrel of salt pork as a reward and requiring them to compete among themselves to get their share of the handout. More generally, a barrel of salt pork was a commonlarder item in 19th century households, and could be used as a measure of the family’s financial well-being. For example, in his 1845 novel The Chainbearer, James Fenimore Cooper wrote, “I hold a family to be in a desperate way, when the mother can see the bottom of the pork barrel.”
•The earliest examples of pork barrel politics in the United States was the Bonus Bill of 1817, which was introduced by Democrat John C. Calhoun to construct highways linking the Eastern and Southern United States to its Western frontier using the earnings bonus from the Second Bank of the United States. Calhoun argued for it using general welfare and post roads clauses of the United States Constitution. Although he approved of the economic development goal, President James Madison vetoed the bill as unconstitutional. A most recent example: to pass the recent “Fiscal Cliff” 12/12 a tax write off went to Hollywood – a $20 million break anytime a TV show or movie is shot in an economically depressed area of the United States.
•1873 Defiance (Ohio) Democrat 13 Sept. 1/8: “Recollecting their many previous visits to the public pork-barrel,… this hue-and-cry over the salary grab… puzzles quite as much as it alarms them.” 1896 Overland Monthly Sept. 370/2: “Another illustration represents Mr. Ford in the act of hooking out a chunk of River and Harbor Pork out of a Congressional Pork Barrel valued at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.”
•One of the most famous alleged pork-barrel projects was the Big Dig in Boston, Massachusetts. The Big Dig was a project to relocate an existing 3.5-mile (5.6 km) section of the interstate highway system underground. It ended up costing US$14.6 billion, or over US$4 billion per mile. Tip O’Neill (D-Mass), after whom one of the Big Dig tunnels was named, pushed to have the Big Dig funded by the federal government while he was the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
•During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, the Gravina Island Bridge (also known as the “Bridge to Nowhere”) in Alaska was cited as an example of pork barrel spending. The bridge, pushed for by Republican Senator Ted Stevens, was projected to cost $398 million and would connect the island’s 50 residents and the Ketchikan International Airport to Revillagigedo Island and Ketchikan.
•Pork-barrel projects, which differ from earmarks, are added to the federal budget by members of the appropriation committees of United States Congress. This allows delivery of federal funds to the local district or state of the appropriation committee member, often accommodating major campaign contributors. To a certain extent, a member of Congress is judged by their ability to deliver funds to their constituents. The Chairman and the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations are in a position to deliver significant benefits to their states.
•In Australia—Pork barrel is frequently used in Australian politics, where marginal seats are often accused of receiving more funding than safe seats or, in the case of the 2010 election in negotiations with key independents.
•In Central and Easter Europe—Romanians speak of pomeni electorale (literally, “electoral alms”), while the Polish kiełbasa wyborcza means literally “election sausage”. In Serbian, podela kolača (cutting the cake) refers to post-electoral distribution of state-funded positions for the loyal members of the winning party. The Czech předvolební guláš (pre-election goulash) has similar meaning, referring to free dishes ofgoulash served to potential voters during election campaign meetings targeted at lower social classes; metaphorically, it stands for any populistic political decisions that are taken before the elections with the aim of obtaining more votes. The process of diverting budget funds in favor of a project in a particular constituency is called porcování medvěda (“portioning of the bear”) in Czech usage.
•In German speaking countries—The German language differentiates between campaign goodies (“Wahlgeschenke” literally election gifts) to occur around election dates and parish-pump politics (“Kirchturmpolitik” literally church tower politics) for concentrating funding and reliefs to the home county of a politician. While the former is a technical term (neutral or slightly derogatory) the latter is always derogatory meaning that the scope of actions is limited to an area where the steeple of the politician’s village can still be seen. In Switzerland the wording of provincial thinking (“Kantönligeist” literally canton’ic mind) may cover these actions as well and it is understood as a synonym in Germany and Austria.
•In Scandinavia—Similar expressions, meaning “election pork”, are used in Danish (valgflæsk), Swedish (valfläsk) and Norwegian (valgflesk), where they mean promises made before an election, often by a politician who has little intention of fulfilling them. The Finnish political jargon uses siltarumpupolitiikka (culvert politics) in reference to national politicians concentrating on small local matters, such as construction of culverts and other public works at politician’s home municipality.
•In the United Kingdom—The term is rarely used in British English, although similar terms exist: election sweetener, tax sweetener, or just sweetener. The term was, however, used in August 2013 by the Campaign for Better Transport in their criticism of Danny Alexander MP’s involvement
in securing funding for the A6 Manchester Airport Relief Road which passed through a marginal Liberal Democrat constituency.
•And in the Philippines(present) —-In the Philippines, the term “pork barrel” is used to mean funds allocated to the members of the Philippine House of Representativesand the Philippine Senate to spend as they see fit without going through the normal budgetary process or through the Executive Branch. It can be used for both “hard” projects, such as buildings and roads, and “soft” projects, such as scholarships and medical expenses. Beginning in 2006, the amount was ₱70.0 M for each Representative and ₱200.0 M for each Senator. This pork barrel system was stopped by President Ferdinand Marcos during his dictatorship but was reintroduced by President Corazon Aquino in 1986. The program has had different names over the years, including the Countryside Development Fund, Congressional Initiative Fund, and currently the Priority Development Assistance Fund.
•During the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the PDAF became the biggest source of corruption among the legislators.Kickbacks were common and became syndicated–using pre-identified project implementers including government agencies, contractors and bogus non-profit corporations as well as the government’s Commission on Audit.
•In August 2013, outrage over the ₱10 B Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, involving Janet Lim-Napoles and numerous Senators and Representatives, led to widespread calls for abolition of the PDAF system. This also included the pork barrel funds of President Aquino that amounted to several billions of pesos. The Million People March which occurred on August 26, 2013, National Heroes’ Day in the Philippines, called for the end of “pork barrel” and was joined by simultaneous protests nationwide and by the Filipino diaspora around the world.