Million People March: The long march of the nation-A A +A
Meet the Countryside
Friday, September 6, 2013
THE August 26 Million People March by struggling Filipino taxpayers is the beginning of the awakening of the people from all walks of life for government to account the people’s money; and the ascent of good governance as the standard. It will be a bitter protracted struggle, a long march; and many will fall along the way with the remaining few completing the journey.
When the common international poverty line is only $1.25 or PhP56.25 at current exchange rate, which is roughly P18,000 per year; when our country’s threshold is roughly at P30 or P9,385 per year; and when our smallholder farmer-beneficiaries of land reform could hardly earn as much among so many others, there must be something very wrong with our nation. The poverty threshold becomes a very serious concern when some 27 million poor Filipinos live below P30 or P9,385 per year income.
How many more poor Filipinos earn less than P18,000 per year as per international poverty line? If you are reading this article, you are one of the Filipinos who could not possibly imagine living in a housing unit made of makeshift, salvaged and improvised materials with no walls in P9,385 monthly income -- and how much more living a life at P9,385 (NSCB, 2012) annual budget?
The country would have less than 20 percent of its people with Tax Identity Number (TIN); and chances are 40 percent of the roughly 18 million TIN holders would have no tax liability. And, thus, we roughly have 10 million people paying taxes; and the rest of the population, some 90 million people, paid no taxes at all. This means only 10 percent of the population supports the rest of us. That puts the burden of providing for 100 million people on the backs of some 10 million tax payers. Something is definitely so wrong here.
Tax payers don’t mind paying their taxes -- if their money is used for good. What is most disturbing is when billions of hard earned tax payers’ money intended for the poor in the development of the nation is pocketed. PDAF is a shameless greed and stealing the monies paid by tax payers or earned by the government itself -- the people’s money. In large measure, PDAF stalled our development and got us to the predicaments of our country now. The march of the nation to abolish the "pork barrel system"; to prosecute those who corrupted the PDAF; and, aside from returning the monies stolen, to imprison those found guilty as common criminals is just right. But, this will not come easy.
What exactly is wrong, and who is to blame? As they “scratch each others’ back”, Congress points to the Executive Branch; the Executive Branch faults Congress; and the VP plays coy as if he has no pork barrel -- they simply muddle the issue! The Legislative Branch, Congress, and that is the Senate and the House of Representatives however are the one vested with the power of the purse and the constitutional provision that no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made – and that means “to specify the amount that may be spent and the purpose for which it may be spent."
PDAF is not specified and appropriated lump sum. But it’s legit as Congress has passed the law and the President has approved it. The people should really point their middle fingers to Congress. If the annual General Appropriations Act has any lump sum appropriations as the PDAF, the President’s Social Fund, and other Congressional Allocations, Congress has not done its job. This is where all the evils in governance start. With no exception, this should be coupled by e-procurement process at all levels of all the national bureaus, agencies, and the bigger local government units. And, Congress should instead enhance its oversight capacity – and watch the procurement and implementation processes with COA.
On Tuesday’s ABS-CBN Show, host Anthony Taberna mentioned of a Congressman in the premier City of Manila who justified his PDAF because his constituents would come to him for help. I wonder how many more congressmen would also have his kind of mind frame. If they are in the minority, the PDAF will be abolished right away. As the pork barrel is designed to ingratiate legislators with their constituents, it counters good governance; and, thus, if majority of our political leaders in Congress have “delicadeza,” the pork barrel system would not have proliferated. It appears then that with the huge amount of pork barrel money that can be pocketed, abolishing it is an uphill struggle -- a Long March of the Nation.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 06, 2013.