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Understanding ‘pork barrel’

(UPDATED 8:17am, August 28) – ‘Makibaka, wag mag-baboy!’

This line was one of the most commonly used yells during the #MillionPeopleMarch today which was held simultaneously around the country, with its center at both Quirino Grandstand and Luneta Park in Manila. I personally wasn’t able to understand the about the pork barrel at first, but I was able to uncover more as I began the search for the truth.

What is the PDAF? Where did it come from?

The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), known more as the ‘pork barrel’ takes its roots from the American congress system, and was embraced by the Philippine legislature during the 1930s.

It was appropriated to members of congress since its introduction, and during the Martial Law era, Marcos had complete control over this fund.

During the post-Martial Law era, the 8th Congress placed parameters and guidelines in the use of the pork barrel. In 1989, the Mindanao and Visayas Development Fund were formed with a lump sum (accumulated) amount of PHP 480 million and PHP 240 million, respectively. However, assemblymen from Luzon also wanted to have a budget for their local projects, and this marked the birth of the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) in 1990. Since then, the CDF was included in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

During the Estrada administration, the CDF was renamed to its present name PDAF, which provided more safeguards to avoid malversation of funds, including the option to let NGOs implement the projects.

Is it unconstitutional?

No. It is constitutional under the current 1987 Philippine Constitution. Article VI Section 24 provides:

Section 24. All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills, shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments.

How it is allocated?

The PDAF is a lump sum fund allocated to members of congress – PHP 200 million for members of the upper house and PHP 70 million for members of the lower house. It is included as one item in the yearly budget plan under the General Appropriations Act.

A legislator can have access to the fund by first submitting a proposal letter of sponsoring a project listed in the priority projects determined from the GAA. It is then submitted to the Finance Committee of the house the legislator belongs before being endorsed to the Senate or House speaker, and to the Department of Budget and Management.

DBM checks its compliance with the GAA, and they disburse the requested budget to the implementing agency in a form of a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO). SAROs are more likely a disbursement voucher for checks intended for implementing agencies that will receive the ‘ready-to-cook pork’. Normally, the implementing agency is an executive department of government, like Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for relief assistance. However, legislators did have the option of having NGOs implement the project, making auditing more complicated.

How it is audited?

Normally, there is no known procedure for the auditing of the expenditures under the PDAF, since the fund’s nature is discretionary and it is appropriated as a lump sum amount. In the beginning of President Aquino’s office in 2010, the Commission on Audit started conducting a special investigation for the projects funded under the PDAF, spearheaded by its Commissioner Grace Pulido-Tan.

The Commission on Audit explained the special auditing process as follows: They check the documents available with DBM, including the project proposals and the SAROs. COA also contacted the different implementing agencies such as Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), DSWD, and other government entities. Also contacted were the different NGOs selected to implement the project.

COA conducted ocular surveys in the project sites, interviews with heads of implementing agencies (including NGOs) and checks of the existence of the NGOs appointed as implementing agencies.

Disclaimer: I may be inaccurate in other parts of this post. Please beep me if you find anything wrong. Thank you!


How was #Kadayawan2013?

Before I continue with this post, I would like to take this opportunity to greet everyone, Happy Kadayawan and Madayaw Dabaw!


I started going out on the streets during the festivities of the city in the last year’s Kadayawan Festival, and was followed by the Araw ng Dabaw this March. Now that I have a better chance of joining the festivities, let me give a run-down of how I saw this year’s celebration with the theme: “Pagseguro sa Makanunayong Kaayo.

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Baganga needs your help!

Photo of Halfmoonlane, Baganga. (Photo source:

One week has already passed since the landfall of Typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha) on municipalities in Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Surigao del Sur, Misamis Oriental and other adjacent provinces, and that help is already coming in from different non-government organizations, government agencies and international friends.

Other places have been constantly receiving donations over the others, and Baganga is one of those unfortunate to be (sort of) isolated from the help being delivered.

Baganga is a municipality in Davao Oriental, which economy is fueled by coconuts, lumber, agriculture and little of fishing. They have been “isolated” from the other municipalities in the province, because of a totally damaged bridge in Barangay Baugo, connecting nearby Caraga and Baganga; while the bridge connecting Cateel and Baganga were found with cracks, not allowing heavy trucks to go inside and deliver goods.

Normally, you can reach the place via Mati in 5-6 hours, and via Compostela-Cateel access road (some parts still unpaved) in 4 hours. But the only passable way is via Lingig (Surigao del Sur)-Boston-Cateel-Baganga, making the trip a 7-8 hour ride.

Baganga needs our help: shortage of food supplies, lack of potable water, expensive fuel for travel to other municipalities, loss of power and communication facilities. A single cent or pack of relief goods can help these people for long.


If you want to donate via PayPal, please click the button below. (A new window will be opened for you to process the donations)



If you want to deliver relief goods, please e-mail or tweet me at @KarloPuerto, so that we can arrange the place and time of pickup (for Davao City residents only) or if you wanted to send via courier. Immediate needs include:

  • Clean, potable water
  • Food packs
  • Canned goods
  • Toiletries
  • Medicines
  • Flashlights (with batteries)
  • Used clothings

If you want to donate via bank, please deposit it through this account number:

Bank: UnionBank of the Philippines

Savings Account Number: 109452451036

Account Name: Karlo Alexie Puerto

Branch: Davao-Magsaysay

After depositing, please e-mail me at for your donation to be properly credited.

UPDATE: Our team will be sending a first batch of relief items this Saturday (Philippine Time, GMT +0800) and will depart Davao City at 7am. 

If we cannot personally deliver these items (due to lack of transportation, security purposes), we will then endorse them to ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya for distribution.


This space is reserved for those who willingly sent donations (in cash or in kind):

  • Generika Drugstore – Isulan Branch (for medicines)
  • RDL Pharmaceutical Laboratory, Inc. (for soap)


Together, let us help these people, whose families have been missing or dead, houses partially or totally damaged, livelihoods totally or partially washed out and futures that are uncertain.

Davao: Feeling rural in the middle of the metropolis (part 1)

Part 1 of 2

I remember it when Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition 4 housemate Tom Doromal was given the title, “Bukid Prince ng Davao,” it comes to mind how come they say that Davao is in fact a bukid?

Personally, I can still feel Davao’s being rural in a way, because of what the place possesses that lure tourists and migrants to stay here for long and settle here; and that there are really parts of Davao (as a region) that can still be considered a rural area.

But, this is not the emphasis of today’s blog post. It is about the rural feel of Davao City, even though it is considered as the shopping, dining, education and business enclave of Southern Mindanao.

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