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Should my NGO go on a “pork barrel diet”? The case of the Priority Development Assistance Fund in the Philippines

Ronald Umali Mendoza (Asian Institute of Management, Makati City, Philippines)
Manuel De Vera (Asian Institute of Management, Makati City, Philippines)
Charles Siriban (Asian Institute of Management, Makati City, Philippines)

Publication date: 26 November 2014


Subject area

Public Finance

Study level/applicability

Masters level graduate studies for public and private sector managers.

Case overview

The protagonist in this case is Mrs Maribeth Ocampo a manager of a reputable non-governmental organization (NGO) that plans to devise a position on the Philippines' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) (or more pejoratively called “pork barrel”). This NGO manager intends to tap the assistance of their local legislator to fund some of their projects. Her NGO has been working with farmers in provinces in the Bicol region and one of the recent projects of the group involves skills training for the female farmers, which aims to provide the latter with a greater variety of income source which they can tap during the lean season. Expenses associated with the project include costs of the training sessions (e.g. cost of session kits and honorarium of resource people) and assistance that will be provided to the female farmers to start their venture.

However, recent reports have surfaced which cast doubts on the accountability and transparency associated with the PDAF of the legislators. Some reports indicate the presence of commissions that NGOs must allegedly pay to the legislators in exchange for their access to the said funds, while a recent scam involves the creation of bogus NGOs that allegedly serve as conduits through which legislators can take advantage of their allocation. The NGO manager needs to decide on whether and to what extent to engage with legislators on tapping the pork barrel funds. She also needs to address the question: “What is the position of my NGO (and possibly all reputable NGOs more broadly) on pork barrel funds moving forward?”

Expected learning outcomes

This case aims to familiarize the manager with key public finance concepts such as discretion and accountability; and to develop her/his appreciation of the politics surrounding the public sector budget and, in particular, discretionary funds. The case is focused on Philippine legislators' discretionary funds, the PDAF. However, it can be used to discuss issues surrounding public finance concepts of transparency, accountability and citizens' engagement in the budget process in a much broader context within developing democracies.

The case revolves around the scandal surrounding the pork barrel funds of some legislators that were exposed for apparent abuse in early 2013. The scandal and its repercussions are still ongoing at the time of writing this case, so the authors expect to update this case moving forward. It aims to highlight an example of the role of public institutions and its respective challenges when it comes to critical decisions of keeping public financial a credible undertaking. It is also expected that this case will help develop an understanding of the pros and cons in the use of discretionary funds and help the student identify potential risks for abuse in public finance management with respect to these funds.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes are available for educators only. Please contact your library to gain login details or email to request teaching notes.



Mendoza, R.U., De Vera, M. and Siriban, C. (2014), "Should my NGO go on a “pork barrel diet”? The case of the Priority Development Assistance Fund in the Philippines", , Vol. 4 No. 7.



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