Missing the chance-A A +A
Spark of Law
Friday, August 23, 2013
“KAYO ang boss ko”, so President Benigno "PNoy" Aquino III proclaimed during his inaugural address.
Apparently, the bosses have seen enough of the grand corruption by their legislators in using the pork barrel. Laid out in the media are concrete evidences how Janet Lim-Napoles orchestrated the web of corruption, with the legislators as co-conspirators.
It is public knowledge that legislators have a cut in every project funded by their pork barrel. With the media exposè and the latest report of the Commission On Audit, we now know that legislators and Janet Lim-Napoles pocket the entire funds, and not just the cut.
Our treasury has been plundered. And our democratic system has been desecrated with the constant dangling of pork barrel every time the President wants a measure, be it good or bad. There is no real check and balance contemplated by the spirit of the 1987 Constitution.
The corruption exhibited by these legislators and Janet Lim-Napoles is contemptuous. It has incensed the national psyche.
Unfortunately, the hunt for blood is on only for Janet Lim-Napoles, but the main actors are cooling their heels in swivel chairs. Lest we forget, the legal maxim is clear: “In conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all.” If you arrest Janet Lim-Napoles, then arrest her conspirators. Justice, half-served, is injustice still.
That we should get rid of the pork barrel is a sound move. The business of Congress is to enact laws and not to identify and implement infrastructure projects; the latter is the function of the executive. The principle of separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches is based on the wisdom rooted in the founding of the American constitution. The demarcation between these two branches of government should not be blurry.
Besides, the legislators have been held hostage by the President, past or present, by not releasing the cash allotment for their pork barrel. This way, Congress is ineffective counter-balance to the excesses of the Executive.
The pork barrel is the death wish of vibrant democracy.
Already, the call to scrap the pork barrel is snowballing. On August 26, 2013, a National Heroes Day, several groups are calling on PNoy to scrap the pork barrel.
PNoy has made-up his mind. He is not proposing to scrap the pork barrel.
There is no point of going back to the Marcos regime when all projects are centralized, and always with the blessing of then President Marcos. This is his mantra to counter the move to get rid of the pork barrel. The demons of Marcos are intoned to cast fear on the anti-pork barrel groups.
Contrary to the assertion of PNoy, identifying projects is not left to the national government. The local government units, in the exercise of executive function, can very well identify and help implement priority development projects. Not only is this set-up plausible, it is consistent with the spirit of the constitution as well.
Knowing P-Noy, he can be steadfast, to the point of being stubborn, in his stand on the issue. Perhaps, only the spirits of his parents could change his mind.
Understandably, the pork barrel is convenient for PNoy. Legislative agenda are being pushed via horse trading which, more often than not, involves the release of pork barrel. For the legislators, pork barrel is a source of pecuniary corruption. For the President, it is also a corrupting influence to blur the separation of powers.
PNoy should have an examination of conscience. Convenience should give way to the higher commands of morality. With his “bosses” behind him, he does not need to dangle the pork barrel to get his legislative measures approved in Congress. The people could punish the legislators at the polls. Besides, without the pork barrel, these legislators would be cash-strapped during elections and could not buy votes.
He should listen to his “bosses” who are fed-up with corruption. “Daang matuwid” remains a hollow slogan if he cannot slay the grand corruption in Congress. “Daang matuwid,” as he espouses it, is based on the higher ground of morality. Where convenience and morality clash, the latter should reign supreme.
“Kayo and boss ko.” He must listen to the sound of his own speech. Now is the time to rise to the occasion. He has made a covenant to the people to listen to them. The people’s command is clear and unmistakable.
Heeding to his boss may spell the difference between greatness and mediocrity. Now is his date with history. Ninoy had his moment of history at the Tarmac of NAIA. Cory had her transformation from plain housewife to president. PNoy has now a chance at greatness. He can go against his convenient stand and the interests of his former brethren in Congress.
He should not miss the chance. He should listen to his bosses.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 23, 2013.