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TONGPATS or BADAF? Skeptical public pitches names for new pork system

August 24, 2013 4:20pm

Is the government now preparing to unveil TONGPATS, or Totally New Government PDAF Audited to Satisfaction?

That's just one cheeky response to President Aquino's announcement that he is now abolishing the PDAF, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund.

Few seem to believe that the corrupt pork barrel system, huge funds at the discretion of lawmakers, will end with PNoy's surprise press conference yesterday where he revealed that the PDAF will be gone, but will be replaced with a new and improved system.

That triggered an outpouring of playful suggestions from skeptical netizens on what to name the new pork barrel.

A few adhered to the pork theme, such as LIEMPO (Lawmakers Initiative for Emergency, Miscellaneous and Personal Outlay) or SISIG (Social Initiative for Service in Governance).

Among the more prolific brainstormers via Twitter has been activist Carlos Conde, who has also proposed PAPAITAN, or President Aquino's Political Action and Initiative for Total Allocation of National Budget, and HUMBAA, or Horrifyingly Unlimited Money for Belmonte, Aquino and Allies.
Congressman Antonio Tinio of ACT-TEACHERS partylist was the one who suggested TONGPATS.
A search of the hashtag #newpork on Twitter revealed more than 50 creative name suggestions for the reincarnated pork barrel allocations, including:
  •     Budgetary Allocation for Collaborative Outreach Nationwide (BACON)
  •     Benigno Aquino Development Assistance Fund (BADAF)
  •     Countrywide Universal Priority Initiatives Treasury (CUPIT) Fund
  •     National Assistance Program of Lawmakers Engaged in Swindling (NAPOLES)
  •     Holistic Lawmaking for Development of All Filipinos (HOLDAF)
  •     Government Outlay Line-itemized and Appropriated Yearly (GOLAY)
  •     National Allotment for Countryside Amelioration and Welfare (NACAW)
  •    President’s Outlay for Countrywide Handling of Emergency Rehabilitation for Opulence (POCHERO)
  •    Outlay for the Interest of Napoles and Kin (OINK)
  •    Selective Enforcement of Budgetary Outlays (SEBO)
  •    President Aquino’s Nationwide Outlay for Transparency (PANOT)

Lists of acronyms, which are regularly updated through comments from Facebook users, have been posted in various sites and also on the event page of the Million People March to Luneta on August 26.

The name-pitching fest is among the lighter episodes in a large corruption scandal that has not died down despite the debilitating impact of Habagat rains in the past week.

Rally organizers have said that Monday's march to Luneta will push through despite Aquino's announcement. On Saturday, Manila city authorities announced that roads leading to Luneta will be closed starting 9 a.m. on Monday to make way for the protest.

Many ordinary people asked by GMA News Online have indicated that they will attend the rally, some of whom were not experienced protesters.

John Perez, the leader of a cyclists group in Makati, says they are joining not just because they're angry. "We're hopeful for the future. We think this action will lead somewhere," he said, as a friend was tuning up his bike for their ride on Monday.

Abolish all lump sum appropriations
In a statement posted online, Centerlaw and the Concerned Citizens Movement said Aquino's announcement to abolish PDAF is "merely a change of name" akin to walking the same dog but with a different collar.
What the 'pork barrel' is
"Pork barrel" refers to congressional allocations such as the PDAF, financial subsidies to local government units (FSLGU), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) lump sum allocations for infrastructure projects identified by Congress. "Pork barrel" is the portion of the national budget that is widely left to the legislators’ discretion when it comes to how the funds are spent. The term “pork barrel” refers to an ancient Western custom to preserve meat in actual wooden barrels for future consumption. Connoting fat and grease and stored resources, the term has since seeped into ordinary conversations as a metaphor for political largesse. Pork barrel funds account for a little over 1 percent of the national budget.Read more
"PDAF used to be known as the CDF or the Countryside Development Fund. It was named PDAF after investigative journalists exposed the CDF as pork barrel. It may be that this alleged abolition of PDAF is yet to be another renaming," the groups said.
They added that if Aquino is serious about doing away with pork barrel, he should abolish all lump sum appropriations instead of creating a scheme where legislators can continue identifying pet projects that will be funded with taxpayers' money.
In a commentary posted on the VERA Files website, journalist Yvonne Chua said pork barrel funds had long been a source of corruption since it was introduced in the country in 1922, despite having been overhauled several times supposedly to stamp out the opportunities for its misuse.
Chua said more than a decade ago, the public clamor to abolish pork intensified after the Commission on Audit released a string of special audits that uncovered pork-related scams involving legislators and government agencies – but this had little impact.
"In 2000, then President Joseph Estrada turned back on his campaign pledge to abolish pork and simply converted the CDF into PDAF. His bureaucrats were quick to assure the public that safeguards against abuse and corruption would be put in place. Obviously, the safeguards have failed," she said. – VVP/HS, GMA News
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