Text | An Act Abolishing the Pork Barrel System

August 24, 2014

Delegates of the People's Congress link arms to show unity against pork barrel. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Delegates of the People’s Congress link arms to show unity against pork barrel. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Editor’s Note: We are publishing in full the proposed bill to abolish the pork barrel system through the people’s initiative, ratified in a People’s Congress held last August 23. Carol Araullo, convenor of Abolish Pork Movement, described the bill as a product of a “long, painstaking, and democratic discussion by experts and non-experts alike.” The People’s Initiative to Abolish Pork Barrel said that around six million signatures from registered voters are needed to pass the said bill.



SECTION 1. Short Title—This Act shall be known as “An Act Abolishing the Pork Barrel System.”

SECTION 2. Declaration of State Policies and Principles. – This act is a direct exercise of sovereign power by the people of their authority to enact legislation reserved by the Philippine Constitution.

The sovereign people affirm the need to establish a system of strict accountability over the use of public funds to ensure that they are spent solely for functions, programs, projects and activities that redound to the interest of the people, especially the poor and marginalized sectors of Philippine society.

Recognizing that the pork barrel system is one of the main sources of graft and corruption and of patronage politics, the State shall ensure that measures designed to eliminate the rules and practices of the pork barrel system are in place and that the mechanisms of checks and balances are strengthened.

SECTION 3. Definitions. For purposes of this Act, the following terms shall mean:

(a) Pork Barrelis a lump sum public fund assigned by law, regulation or practice with sole discretion given to the President, legislator or group of legislators, or any public officer. The exercise of discretion by public officers relates to the allocation, release or use of these public funds, the identification or selection of projects, implementors or beneficiaries, or any or a combination of or all of these.

(b) A lump sum appropriation is a single but divisible sum of money which serves as a funding source for unspecified or multiple purposes and leaves the purposes of the appropriation and their actual amounts for further determination after the enactment of the appropriation law. Said appropriationis not itemized or does not specify the program, activity or project or implementing government agency for which it is appropriated, including the allotment class, beneficiaries, and other matters required to be disclosed by government agencies in their budget estimates under existing law.

(c) Impoundment is the act of not spending money appropriated by law. Impoundment may be through rescission or cancellation of the appropriation, or deferral or suspension of the release of the appropriated funds.

(d) National Official under this Act refers to the President, head of department or national agency or his/her respective subordinate, agent, or authorized representative, and any member of Congress.

(e) Savings refers to any available portion or balance in an appropriation item under the law, which has become free from any obligation or encumbrance as a result of (i) the completion or final discontinuance as certified by the President or abandonment, due to fortuitous events, of the work, activity or purpose for which the appropriation is authorized; or (ii) the non-payment of compensation and related costs as a result of vacancies in positions and leaves of absence without pay; or (iii) the implementation of measures resulting in improved systems and efficiencies that enabled government agencies to meet and deliver the required or planned targets, programs and services approved in an appropriation law at a lesser cost.

SECTION 4. General mandatory rules governing appropriations and disbursement of public funds.

(a) All proposed budgets submitted to the Philippines Congress shall contain only itemized or line-item appropriations, except appropriations for the purpose of disaster response, contingency fund of not more than 5% of the budget for a specific item, and for the intelligence/confidential funds of the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

(b) The expenditures from allowable lump sums shall be reported immediately to Congress by the government agency to which the sum has been appropriated and shall always be subject to a special audit by the Commission on Audit.

(c) All unspent, unreleased, and unobligated funds of any government agency by the end of the fiscal year shall remain in or revert to the General Fund and shall not thereafter be available for expenditure except by a subsequent appropriation law; Provided, however, that the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may authorize their respective government agency or office to use the savings realized by the agency or office from its regular budget during the fiscal year to augment any existing appropriation item for the same agency or office under the general appropriations act; Provided, further, that the augmentation may only be done during the same fiscal year when the savings were realized; Provided, finally, that the power to realign or use savings may not be delegated to other public officers.

SECTION 5. Appropriation of special funds. Within the fiscal year following the approval of this Act, a report on the financial status of every account including but not limited to the Malampaya fund, the Motor Vehicles Users Charges and other off-budget items covered by a special law authorizing the continuous disbursement of funds for a special purpose shall be submitted to Congress. Every fiscal year thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a proposed budget for the disbursement of the special funds in accordance with their purpose as part of the National Expenditure Program.

SECTION 6. Abolition of the Presidential Social Fund. The share of the Government in the aggregate gross earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation provided under Section 12 of Presidential Decree No. 1869 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1993 shall henceforth be remitted regularly to the National Treasury and may be used only pursuant to a valid appropriation made by law. The discretionary authority of the President granted under the aforesaid Section 12 to use the fund “to finance” the restoration of damaged or destroyed facilities due to calamities” is hereby revoked.

SECTION 7. Special Offenses. The penalty of imprisonment of six (6) years and one day to ten (10) years and perpetual disqualification from public office shall be imposed on the following persons for committing any of the following acts:

(a) Any national official who authorizes the spending of public money that is not covered by or is in violation of any appropriation law;

(b) Any national official who, in violation of Section 4 (a), includes a lump sum amount in any budget proposal submitted to Congress, or any member of Congress who approves the inclusion of any lump sum amount in the general or supplemental appropriations acts; Provided, that the appropriation of lump sums for the purpose of disaster response, a contingency fund of not more than 5% of the budget for a specific item, and for the intelligence fund of the NSC, DND and DILG shall not be covered by this prohibition;

(c) Any national official who inserts in an appropriation bill provisions allowing post-enactment intervention by a member or members of Congress in the implementation of the appropriation measure;

(d) Any member of Congress, or his agent or representative, who directly or indirectly intervenes or participates in the implementation of any appropriation law through any post-enactment act or practice, including but not limited to identification or endorsement of projects, beneficiaries or contractors, or assuming authority or exercising influence in the release, allocation or realignment of appropriated funds;

(e) Any national official who declares and utilizes savings outside of the cases provided in Section 3(e) hereof, or realigns the improperly declared savings;

(f) Any national official who impounds any appropriation or portion thereof by retention, reduction, rescission or deferral or suspension of release of funds, or any other means, for whatever reason or purpose, unless there is an official declaration by the President of an unmanageable National Government budget deficit.

(g) Any person including a private individual who persuades, induces, influences or cooperates with any national official in violating any of the provisions of this Act shall suffer the same penalty.

The above penalties shall be in addition to the criminal, civil and administrative liabilities that the national official or private individual may incur under existing laws.

SECTION 8. Diligence required; presumption. All public officers involved in the approval, release and disbursement of funds shall exercise extraordinary diligence in the performance of their functions. When an anomalous transaction is duly proved, the public officer responsible for the approval, release or disbursement of funds shall be presumed to have knowledge of the anomalous transaction.

SECTION 9. Repealing clause. Any law, presidential decree, executive order, rule or regulation, or any issuance contrary to or inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, including Section 12 of PD 1869 as amended by PD 1993, is hereby repealed, modified or amended accordingly.

SEC. 10. Amendment or repeal of this Act. This Act may only be repealed, modified or amended by a law that has been approved by the people under the system of initiative and referendum enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

Effectivity Clause. This law shall become effective after fifteen (15) days following the completion of its publication in two newspapers of general circulation by the Commission on Elections.

Enacted this ____ day of ___________________________, through the system of People’s Initiative.