MANILA, Philippines - The practice of allowing lawmakers to earmark projects for government funding started during the presidency of Corazon Aquino.
The special audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) on the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2007 to 2009 traced the start of the congressional pork barrel to 1989, with the creation of special development funds for the Visayas and Mindanao.
Under the scheme, the Visayas received P240 million and Mindanao P480 million in lump sum appropriations, according to the COA report.
“These funds were intended to support the development projects identified by representatives from the Visayas and Mindanao areas,” the COA report said.
In 1990, the development funds were expanded to include projects earmarked by senators and congressmen from Luzon. Called the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF), it had an initial allocation of P2.3 billion for project implementation.
The CDF became the PDAF in 2000, with earmarked projects and programs included as lump sum appropriations in the annual national budget.
Earmarked projects included “soft” projects like the procurement of consumable goods such as fertilizer and seeds. The “soft” earmarks also included road repairs and similar projects, called VILP for various infrastructure, including local projects.