Atty. Laserna, Jr.: 'Pork barrel' kills democracy

Below is a discussion by Atty. Manuel J. Laserna, Jr. ( regarding the negative effects of "pork barrel" or "congressional insertions." For more of his informative, educational articles and posts, please visit: or

Pork barrel is a metaphor for the appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative's district. The usage originated in American English. In election campaigns, the term is used in derogatory fashion to attack opponents.

In the Philippines, the term "pork barrel" is used to mean funds allocated to the members of the Philippine House of Representatives and 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. The first pork barrel fund was introduced in 1922 with the passage of the first Public Works Act (Act No 3044). This pork barrel system was technically stopped by President Ferdinand Marcos during his dictatorship by abolishing Congress. It was reintroduced to the system after the restoration of the Congress in 1987. The program has had different names over the years, including the Countryside Development Fund, Congressional Initiative Fund, and currently the Priority Development Assistance Fund. Since 2006, the PDAF was ₱70.0 M for each Representative and ₱200.0 M for each Senator.

[START OF QUOTE] The fundamental constitutional duties of congressmen and senators are legislation, congressional oversight, appropriations, state policy formulation, investigation in aid of legislation, and development of the national consciousness on current issues and controversies through collegial deliberations and democratic consultations with the sovereign people.

The legislators malevolently exceed their constitutional boundaries when they meddle, directly or indirectly, in the executive functions of public works, construction, public utilities, and project planning and implementation.

The pork barrel tradition in Congress -- disguised as rural/countryside development funds, "congressional insertions" during the deliberations on the proposed national budget, suggested "hard and soft projects" of all sorts, and the like -- constitutes grave abuse of the "power of the purse" of Congress.

It weakens the constitutional principle of separation of powers of the three independent branches of government.

The corruption that the pork barrel system breeds rots from within the very foundation of our free society.

The ultimate victims of the pork barrel system are the sovereign people and the republic itself.

It impoverishes the poor and the middle class.

It perpetuates the political dynasties of aristocratic feudal warlords and trapos.

It feeds crony capitalism to subjugate the free market economy.

It exacerbates the comatose status of our ailing society.

It kills democracy and the rule of law.

The pork barrel system is an evil that is impossible to eradicate because it is an open criminal conspiracy between the powerful Executive and Legislative branches of government that the nation seems to tolerate. [END OF QUOTE]
MANUEL J. LASERNA JR.- Admitted to the Bar in 1985 (3rd placer, 1984 bar exam, 90.95%). Law professor of FEU, Manila, 1985 to 2006 (ret.). Educ.: AB Journ., UP, Diliman, QC, 1975; Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.), cum laude, FEU, 1984; Master of Laws (LL.M.), UST, (cand.), Manila [as FEU fellow, 1998-2000]. Honors: 3rd placer, 1984 Bar Exams (90.95%; only 22% passed); Meralco pre-law scholar; Cocofed law scholar; Cocofed management scholar (AIM, Makati); FEU fellow (LLM, UST). Bar leader in southern Metro Manila area since 1995. Founded Las Pinas City Bar Assn (2001). Served as director/sec./vice pres., IBP PPLM Ch., 1995-2007. Email - Social Media: "" and "".

SOURCES: Post thumbnail by

Pork barrel. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.; 

Atty. Manuel J. Laserna Jr. (2019). Corrupt pork barrel tradition rots from within the foundation of Philippine democracy. Wednesday, February 6, 2019.

Atty. Manuel J. Laserna Jr. (2007). About me.