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The States policy on local autonomy is principally stated in Section 25, Article II and

Sections 2 and 3, Article X of the 1987 Constitution which read as follows:

Sec. 25. The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments.

Sec. 2. The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy.

Sec. 3. The Congress shall enact a local government code which shall provide for a
more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a
system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative, and
referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers,
responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election,
appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local
officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of the local

Pursuant thereto, Congress enacted RA 7160,[227] otherwise known as the "Local

Government Code of 1991" (LGC), wherein the policy on local autonomy had been
more specifically explicated as follows:

Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. (a) It is hereby declared the policy of the State that
the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and
meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as
self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment
of national goals. Toward this end, the State shall provide for a more responsive and
accountable local government structure instituted through a system of
decentralization whereby local government units shall be given more powers,
authority, responsibilities, and resources. The process of decentralization shall
proceed from the National Government to the local government units.

(c) It is likewise the policy of the State to require all national agencies and offices to
conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government units,
nongovernmental and peoples organizations, and other concerned sectors of the
community before any project or program is implemented in their respective
jurisdictions. (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

The above-quoted provisions of the Constitution and the LGC reveal the policy of
the State to empower local government units (LGUs) to develop and ultimately,
become self-sustaining and effective contributors to the national economy. As
explained by the Court in Philippine Gamefowl Commission v. Intermediate
Appellate Court:[228]

This is as good an occasion as any to stress the commitment of the Constitution to

the policy of local autonomy which is intended to provide the needed impetus and
encouragement to the development of our local political subdivisions as self-reliant
communities. In the words of Jefferson, "Municipal corporations are the small
republics from which the great one derives its strength." The vitalization of local
governments will enable their inhabitants to fully exploit their resources and more
important, imbue them with a deepened sense of involvement in public affairs as
members of the body politic. This objective could be blunted by undue interference
by the national government in purely local affairs which are best resolved by the
officials and inhabitants of such political units. The decision we reach today
conforms not only to the letter of the pertinent laws but also to the spirit of the
Constitution.[229] (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

In the cases at bar, petitioners contend that the Congressional Pork Barrel goes
against the constitutional principles on local autonomy since it allows district
representatives, who are national officers, to substitute their judgments in utilizing
public funds for local development.[230]

Philconsa described the 1994 CDF as an attempt "to make equal the unequal" and
that "[i]t is also a recognition that individual members of Congress, far more than
the President and their congressional colleagues, are likely to be knowledgeable
about the needs of their respective constituents and the priority to be given each
project."[231] Drawing strength from this pronouncement, previous legislators
justified its existence by stating that "the relatively small projects implemented
under [the Congressional Pork Barrel] complement and link the national
development goals to the countryside and grassroots as well as to depressed areas
which are overlooked by central agencies which are preoccupied with megaprojects.[232] Similarly, in his August 23, 2013 speech on the "abolition" of PDAF
and budgetary reforms, President Aquino mentioned that the Congressional Pork
Barrel was originally established for a worthy goal, which is to enable the
representatives to identify projects for communities that the LGU concerned cannot

Notwithstanding these declarations, the Court, however, finds an inherent defect in

the system which actually belies the avowed intention of "making equal the
unequal." In particular, the Court observes that the gauge of PDAF and CDF
allocation/division is based solely on the fact of office, without taking into account
the specific interests and peculiarities of the district the legislator represents. In this
regard, the allocation/division limits are clearly not based on genuine parameters of
equality, wherein economic or geographic indicators have been taken into
consideration. As a result, a district representative of a highly-urbanized metropolis
gets the same amount of funding as a district representative of a far-flung rural
province which would be relatively "underdeveloped" compared to the former. To
add, what rouses graver scrutiny is that even Senators and Party-List
Representatives and in some years, even the Vice- President who do not
represent any locality, receive funding from the Congressional Pork Barrel as well.
These certainly are anathema to the Congressional Pork Barrels original intent
which is "to make equal the unequal." Ultimately, the PDAF and CDF had become
personal funds under the effective control of each legislator and given unto them on
the sole account of their office.

The Court also observes that this concept of legislator control underlying the CDF
and PDAF conflicts with the functions of the various Local Development Councils
(LDCs) which are already legally mandated to "assist the corresponding sanggunian
in setting the direction of economic and social development, and coordinating
development efforts within its territorial jurisdiction."[234] Considering that LDCs
are instrumentalities whose functions are essentially geared towards managing local
affairs,[235] their programs, policies and resolutions should not be overridden nor
duplicated by individual legislators, who are national officers that have no lawmaking authority except only when acting as a body. The undermining effect on
local autonomy caused by the post-enactment authority conferred to the latter was
succinctly put by petitioners in the following wise:[236]

With PDAF, a Congressman can simply bypass the local development council and
initiate projects on his own, and even take sole credit for its execution. Indeed, this
type of personality-driven project identification has not only contributed little to the
overall development of the district, but has even contributed to "further weakening
infrastructure planning and coordination efforts of the government."

Thus, insofar as individual legislators are authorized to intervene in purely local

matters and thereby subvert genuine local autonomy, the 2013 PDAF Article as well
as all other similar forms of Congressional Pork Barrel is deemed unconstitutional.

With this final issue on the Congressional Pork Barrel resolved, the Court now turns
to the substantive issues involving the Presidential Pork Barrel.