Porky pork barrel-A A +A
As I See It
Saturday, July 28, 2012
A visiting Japanese friend who was once a member of a political action committee in Japan told me that our politics in the Philippines is very loud and like Christmas season. “It starts early.”
We talked on so many topics about Philippine politics and he was frank in telling me that he is amused by our pork-barrel legislation. This reminds me of the late Tim Manalo, my teacher in Colegio de San Agustin-Bacolod. There are appropriations made by a legislature for projects that are not essential but are sought because they pump money and resources into the local districts of the legislators.
Local projects like asphalt overlay, beautification of sidewalks, concreting of portions of the highway, construction of small classrooms with sub-standard materials, skills training for jobless barangay residents and sponsorship on sports competition are often funded by pork-barrel legislations, which can be accomplished through logrolling. Successful pork-barrel legislators are likely to be reelected by their constituents.
That could be one reason why graduating legislators are endorsing their wives, children, or brothers to take their place. What is so attractive in pork-barrel legislation? A retired congressman told me that a senator has a slice of P200 million and a congressman has a cut amounting to P70 million every year.
Those who are near the administration are making their appeal to the budget office for the prompt release of the porky cube and there are those experts who can reinsert their pork into the budget. This could be the reason why PNoy is so emphatic in saying that the “matuwid na daan” should abide by public bidding and electronic procurement of works and supplies to eradicate “aswangan” in government transactions.
We are already nauseated hearing the political elite duping the people with false hope. Even politicians do not want their bosses to declare a tax revolt because of their dishonesty. The pork illegally obtained could be used for the presidential-congressional-local election campaigns. The millions of pesos from the pork could be doled to fictitious non-government organizations.
My former congressman storyteller said that in the past, this anomaly could not be investigated. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives would invoke inter-chamber courtesy to stop such a probe. In his class, Tim Manalo would say, “Honor among thieves is honored.”
If Senate is allocated P1.336 billion a year for operations, how come that millions of schoolchildren still lack classrooms and books, and millions of parents have no jobs. Some congressional districts in our country do not have good projects being implemented. Is the pork really helping or is the pork part of the problem?
The leftist party-list representatives are being suspected by the rightists that they are funneling the pork to arm rebels. The opposition would also say that they cannot help because the pork funds have not been released. This pork thing has also its own political evolution and brand name. This was Countrywide Development Fund and later tagged as Priority Development Assistance Fund. This sounds funny and it is fun!
Administration legislators, opposition stalwarts and leftist congressmen have enjoyed the same view of the pork. They only differ in recipes. We hope that PNoy can make the legislators identify their projects in detail and the Electronic Procurement Law could be institutionalized. We uphold that COA could visibly show a ledger of all congressional spending.
Our pork needs a moral revolution. We don’t want that it will just remain a bola bola or simply asado.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 28, 2012.