Infrastructures, livelihood, social-welfare, scholarships and other developmental projects for a district or for the country are not to be expected from congressmen/women and senators of any democratic country. The primary function of legislators is to strengthen the country’s legal system by reviewing, filing and passing pertinent laws that will ensure the nation’s growth and stability. With those premises there is no need to allocate priority development funds or country-wide development funds that disguise as pork barrel to any member of the Philippine Congress.
The executive government has in itself the institutions to provide the basic services, build the needed infrastructures, and extend assistance for community development. However, the needed budget is not adequate, because those who pass the national budget will have to scour for means to sustain their perks from the pork that they allot for themselves. Such breeds corruption.
The legislators also need their budget, but this should only be allocated for their office operation; i.e. research, caucus, investigation related to policy development. The role of the legislators is in the area of policy development for national stability, and this should not be confused with other forms of development projects.
The cost of meeting other purported needs of a legislator’s constituents should be taken off the congressman or a senator’s budget, since ensuring the nation’s developmental needs is bound only in their responsibility to create the necessary laws. Thus, the pork barrel system is never needed by a statesman/woman. It only works to sustain corruption and maintain greed among the members of the legislative government.
At the moment, a senator gets P200 million every year, while a congressman gets P70 million every year under the Priority Development Assistance Fund. This is over and above their allotted maintenance and operating and other expenses (MOOE) budget. Each member of the Philippine Congress operate using the MOOE. Every oversight committees and commissions in the congress are also covered by the MOOE. For 2014, operation budget for the senate is P2.998 billion while for the house of representatives P6.248 billion (Diaz, 2013) is allocated.
“Per type of expenditure, the MOOE is specified in the GAA to be used for travelling, communication, repairs, and maintenance, transportation and delivery, supplies and materials, rents, utility, training and scholarship, extraordinary and printing and binding, advertising, representation, subscription and membership dues and contributions” (Mendez, 2013). Should the legislators be using their operation budget wisely, they can manage without the pork-barrel.
With PDAF still included in the 2014 budget, P27billion of taxpayer’s money is passed on to the use or misuse of legislators, just like when the country loss P10billion in the exposed pork-barrel scam but the President is still unfazed with the issues on pork barrel (Esguerra & Cabacungan, 2013). Very few legislators (Bacani, 2013) would like to scrap the pork-barrel, but the Filipino taxpayers would like to see and feel where their taxes go.
In this case, the Filipino people should know who among the legislators stand for what is right and just for the nation. We have yet to see a fat-free legislative agenda: a policy that is lean and never mean. That can only happen when the Philippine Congress scraps pork-barrel out of its system.