Pork barrel and bureaucrat capitalism-A A +A
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
THE scandal of pork barrel has once again affirmed what the left movement has been educating the people all along about bureaucrat capitalism, or that system of governance where the bureaucrats, politicians coming from the big landed and big business families and clans in three government branches are using their positions and discharging the systems as if they were their private enterprises.
The problem is not in having ravenous and crooked bureaucrats and politicians in government, but the political system in itself is ravished from tip to tip. Historically, the good bureaucrats and politicians are always a handful, and they have always been in minor positions.
The political system set up by the colonial powers, especially by the US, has been designed to serve foreign interests and their local cohorts, the ruling elites. The entire system has been working as instrument for facilitating the exploitation of the people, especially workers, farmers, fishers, youth, indigenous peoples and the middle class.
The entire bureaucracy, including the executive, legislative and judicial branches, from the time of Quezon to PNoy, has always been ridden with graft and corruption.
Most of them have used government to build fortunes. Just take of the few known ones who have accumulated big assets at the end of their terms to be convinced of the enormity of graft and corruption and the rottenness of the system.
Several studies have already exposed how some of them get bribe money on the adoption of laws, executive orders and court decisions. In every contract, concession, franchise or license, there is a certain amount of money going through their pockets. In many cases, they are parties in private transactions directly or through trusted dummies or relatives. Many of them are even proud to flaunt themselves as chairmen, consultants or legal counsel of big private business enterprises.
They also engage in using their powers to grab public lands, including those cultivated by the poor farmers and indigenous peoples for logging, mining or pasture areas, in tandem with multinational corporations.
In export-import trading and related transactions they draw their own share of extractive profits by putting their own outfits and the bribe-givers’ on the priority list in foreign exchange and customs accommodation. They likewise engage in misdeclaration or escaping imports and exports duties and taxes, thereby cheating their own government of revenues and the people of the services they deserve.
Every year, millions of billions in pork barrel are appropriated for public works and services but most of these as exposed repeatedly actually go into their pockets and to their cohorts. Biddings for most projects are often negotiated and or manipulated.
In countless cases, government banks and insurance systems have been used to build up their landholdings and capital holdings and their collaborators. Using funds collected from workers and government employees through the SSS and GSIS, the government makes investments in private corporations. In effect, they get various concessions and positions of authority in these private enterprises.
Most, if not all, government corporations are milking cows in their hands. They are the sources of huge salaries and allowances. Purchase bids provide still bigger income for them. In a number of cases, privatization of vital state utilities and assets are sold at losing prices to private corporations.
In the accounting of their individual and corporate assets and liabilities, double standard is the practice. Tax holidays and all kinds of incentives are granted to multinational corporations and elite businesses. Even corporations and fake cooperatives they control or have significant influence are used to cheat the people.
Worse, they are also engaged in extracting special sources of graft and corruption in the forms of crop loans, relief goods, war surplus goods, reconstruction and rehabilitation funds, immigration quota, import controls, price controls, dollar allocations, rural banks, fake cooperatives, war assistance, deportation threats, alien naturalization, logging and mining concessions, pasture leases, stock exchange manipulations, government loans and subscriptions to private corporations, congressional allowances, calamity and contingency funds, barrio improvement funds, licenses and permits, subsidies and so on and so forth.
Not contented, a number of them are often figured in illegitimate activities such as smuggling, illegal drug trade, trafficking, illegal gambling, and prostitution.
These practices are likewise being done in the lower levels of the bureaucracy though those on top exercise full command and authority. Even military and police officials and personnel and their private goons are also getting fat on these activities.
These sources of graft and corruption are certainly not complete. There are more, and they grow each year with more sophistication.
What is comical and deplorable in this system is that these bureaucrats and politicians are making joke of their own anti-graft laws, money laundering law, bank secrecy law, and what have they—by bribing justice people, shelving cases against erring politicians until they lapse the prescribed period, or producing convenient scapegoats in the lowly employees of the bureaucracy, or pointing the blame to the opposition bloc.
Again, the core issue in pork barrel is not about having bad bureaucrats and politicians in power as if putting a few good ones will change the configuration and conduct of the entire system. In fact, the few good ones we know don’t stay long in the bureaucracy because the assimilating and corrupting capacity of the system is often irresistible to the weak and the hungry for power.
Pork is just a small fraction of the huge network of corruption in the ruling system, under the careful protection of the President and his henchmen.
The political system then and now remains essentially the same, in the service of the US imperial interests and its local cohorts, the landed and big business elites.
Side by side with systemic graft and corruption, is the penchant of the bureaucrats to use state military and police power to suppress legitimate dissent especially those militantly exposing and resisting their impositions.
I pity PNoy and his liberal democrat allies who have never grasped this basic truth or refused to do so, and further ignored lessons from history. And so with the so-called yellow movement romanticizing his leadership and the regime.
EDSA I and so forth, failed to sustain the platform of the people who caused it because of their gross failures to understand the fundamentals, and where to gear their main efforts for change.
The Million People March, along with millions more in the basic mass movement nationwide should generate through painstaking efforts a powerful movement that will empower the real forces of change, and in the process eradicate the social bases of this system.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 29, 2013.