Pork Barrel in the Philippines

Pork-Barrel Politics crops up in the news at various times, but where did the name originate ?

It appears to be an American Term that originated before the Civil War, and was actually a barrel of pork made available for locals in need, but then the well off locals helped themselves to it instead.

Today it is a slang term to define government funds being siphoned off for the benefit of individual politicians in various ways.

Examples of this have included small scale funds being allocated to an area for general local work, but being actually only used in the area specific to that politician, or to others that have voted for that politician. The result is that instead of the funds being utilised for the general population, they only benefit the politician and his/her friends.

The Oxford Dictionary quotes:

North American informal
used in reference to the utilization of government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes.


the use of government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes:
political pork barrel for the benefit of their respective sponsors.
wasteful, pork-barrel spending

In the Philippines it is synonymous with the the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), and the term ‘Pork Barrel’ appears to be used interchangeably with the PDAF.
Calls are now being made to end Pork Barreling with the intention to actually end the PDAF itself, as this has been used for pork barreling purposes.

Many in the general population are wanting these PDAF funds to be transferred to government department agencies delivering services.
It is currently administered by the elected politicians themselves, with funds often going where they want, instead of being used for the general betterment of the electorate.

The current official allocation of this “Pork Barrel” is P70 million of PDAF funds for a member of the House of Representatives and P200 million for a senator.

Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)
The Priority Development Assistance Fund is a lump-sum appropriation in the annual General Appropriations Act to fund the priority development programs and projects of the government. pdaf.dbm.gov.ph

The PDAF is commonly called the “pork barrel”.

There have been many misuses of this fund, dating back to the 1990’s when it was first created, as the Countrywide Development Fund, but the latest misuse has involved sums in the region of 10 Billion pesos.

An example of how the term Pork is being used is shown on a website for the Philippines Liberal party:

Headline: Sonny Angara vows to allot P100M a year from own pork to build classrooms/school buildings.

Story: Team Pnoy senatorial candidate Edgardo “Sonny” Angara today vowed to allot P100 million a year from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to address the perennial problem of classroom and equipment shortages in public schools and state universities if elected to the Senate.

Another example is this:

Headline: President Aquino finally vows to abolish pork fund.

Story: President Aquino said: “It is time to abolish the PDAF“.


The Philippine President has also Aquino also called for the prosecution of involved officials and the creation of a new system to ensure that public funds are used for the benefit of the Filipinos.

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