To pork or not to pork-A A +A
As I See It
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
THE ‘Million People March’ was a best seller. In Metro Manila, a huge crowd was amazed by frenzied oration and impassioned speeches delivered by those who call themselves concerned patriots. The episodic series of confrontations in the tri media whether to pork or not to pork were taken by some as a test of fortitude and maturity.
The Bacolod March turned in new faces, new voices, and new enthusiasm. The old guards were still there but not to hurt PNoy -- they cannot afford to go beyond their yellow affiliation. The pork stays with the pigs. Even the Holy Bible has a pork story. Jesus was met by men with demons in them. They screamed, “What do you want with us, you Son of God? Have you come to punish us before the right time?”
Not far from them was a herd of pigs. The demons begged of Jesus, “If you are going to drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs.” Jesus told them, “Go!” The demons left and went off into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the side of the cliff into the lake. That’s the end of story.
Where are some of the pigs now? Have they reached our country? The pork is not bad, but it is a temptation especially if the demon goes with the pig.
We know that some senators have spent their pork properly. Many of our senators and congressmen have been to critical areas of the country that have not been properly attended by the national agencies. They put up good projects there in coordination with the barangay captain, mayor and governor. We hope that the brilliant men of the Legislative Branch and the President’s men will always come up with the best solution in the slicing of the pork.
Let’s go back in time. In February to April 2004, Agriculture Undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante was able to have a huge budget for fertilizer and the suspicion was that kickbacks were used for the presidential-congressional-local election campaign. The Senate inquiry made many congressmen angry because Sen. Ramon Magsaysay was vocal about the scam. In 2007, Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. was aware that the pork barrel was already an exploding issue and he called for a ‘moral revolution’. He wanted to redeem himself as Speaker of the Lower House.
Former President Gloria Arroyo was fast to react. The president felt that the speaker should have been the last person to talk about morality. De Venecia was not that helpless to clean out the pork barrel. He said that congressmen must be made to identify their projects in detail. All these should have been done via the Electronic Procurement Law. That pork issue created a gap between de Venecia and Arroyo. It was former Pres. Fidel Ramos who got them to shake their hands.
A Brutus stabbed de Venecia at the back. Joey de Venecia, the son of the Speaker, became a whistle blower about the $200 million overpricing in the $330 million ZTE contract. Rep. Prospero Nograles became a surrogate speaker and the pork remained intact in the holy place.
Later, PNoy in his ‘Matuwid na Daan’ found out that the holy pork is still venerated. PNoy’s bosses want pork barrel to be abolished. The clamor started with the ‘Million People March’. Could this trigger more marches in the next few months? The Executive and the Legislative should now think seriously on ‘check and balance’.
The pork was not P70 million per congressman and P200 million per senator when Congress was restored in 1987. It started at P12 million and P30 million, respectively. The name was made very porky from Countryside Development Fund to Priority Development Assistance Fund. PNoy has also a big slice for his Executive Department. Now, we have P16.8 billion a year for congressmen and P4.8 billion for senators. Is it safe to say that when it comes to pork slabs, all politicos think alike? Please, spare the ribs for us.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 28, 2013.