Jail the corrupt, help the needy-A A +A
Straight from Carolinas
Friday, September 27, 2013
DON’T get me wrong but pork barrel funds aren’t bad at all. It’s the people in power who are abusing these resources that are repulsive and bad to the bone.
I join all in saying the gluttons must be put behind bars infinitum and barred from holding any public office since it is grossly unfair to the taxpayers. Having said that, I have this question in the meantime that an investigation is ongoing and while waiting for the result of the cases filed.
Are there measures in place to ensure there’s no delay in public service? Or is this the occasion to justify not doing anything at all? But I have stories to tell culled from personal experiences and my being poor that made me passionate about the subject of social justice and believe in what I am saying that pork barrel is not bad all.
Many were able to partake of pork but not as big as the politicians and those close to the politicos. I am happy and sad. Happy that public focus shifted on this insatiable greed of power and sad for the poor people who by this time could not get any assistance whatsoever.
Now government agencies and elected officials would have all excuses to deny access to services by expediently saying the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel is suspended.
In my broadcast days on radio and TV, a public service portion is allotted to help destitute listeners.
It makes the program palatable to audience according to surveys and research. My mind at first was concerned about ratings but I was later awakened to the sobering reality that many were begging for help.
This plea for assistance later took the shape and faces of neighbors, relatives and acquaintances. One would have to be stone-hearted not to be touched by seeing the faces of poor people in public.
Long-neglected concerns I have about ratings disappears when seeing them and remembering where I was born and raised. I received patients asking admission to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) and seeing them sleeping on folding beds waiting for the next patient to be discharged so they can be given attention.
NMMC became the hospital where Cagayan de Oro City indigents flock to for treatment since the long-neglected city hospital can barely provide them the services they need.
This was where I came in, calling on staffers live during my program to please accommodate the people who came to me for assistance. They were not friends or relatives but you could empathize with their pain and feeling of desperation and helplessness.
Aside from confinement they also have to buy medicines. Even with PhilHealth, how would these patients pay the hospital bills? Do you think these patients could afford to be discharged due to the generosity of the hospital?
Not at all. Aside from the generous listeners, it’s the congressman or senator who pays the bills sourced from the PDAF assigned to their offices.
True, there are systems that have to be checked and corrected. Since there’s an agreement between the hospital and the office of the public official, one has to secure certification from the office of said public official in order to avail of the assistance.
Not an easy task because the applicants have to show proof that they are members of the party, er, I mean they are residents of the congressman’s district. Seriously, the staffers would look at the name on the master list of the barangay.
Guarantee papers can find medicines at a congressman’s district office at the hospital. Some lucky souls can get medicines from there or the staffer-in-charge can purchase medicines at their friendly-pharmacy on credit, subject to the availability of funds.
Not all staffers are friendly. I have met some arrogant types who think they own the pork barrel assigned to their boss’s office. It’s a sad reality that one needs to recognize in order to assess their chances of securing assistance from their congressman.
To make the story short, the chances of an indigent patient being given aid and securing the hospital clearance that assures him or her that all expenses are taken care of rely heavily on whether or not he or she has a guarantor.
God, I remember signing numerous guarantee papers at NMMC on behalf of those who asked for my help. I have to thank Soraida Echem (fellow Tagoloanon – I don’t know if she’s still working or retired) and Anna Tadem for all the help they gave me there at NMMC. May God bless them a thousand fold.
On behalf of the indigent patients, I asked help from former congressmen Victorico Chaves, Erasmo Damasing, Homobono Caesar, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., even Congressman Nereus Acosta.
Later on, I would also ask help for the indigents from former congressman and now Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City’s 2nd district and the office of Carmen barangay chairman Rolando Uy.
Lest I forget, I finished my Masters in Technological Management (MS TCM) degree at Mindanao University of Science and Technology (MUST) as a Commission on Higher Education (Ched) scholar of then congressman Constantino Jaraula.
What I am trying to say is that the PDAF helped numerous people and alleviated the suffering of many, palliative it might be. Bluntly told, beggars cannot afford to be choosy.
Going back to my premise, let the filing of charges against abusive, corrupt officials begin and send them to jail, but for God’s sake let there be measures to continue to help poor people and not use the withdrawal of pork as a justification for not doing anything for them.
For now, things are looking up at the Department of Health (DOH) as far as universal health coverage is concerned.
I saw a post of Dr. Bee-jay Rocha – who by the way passed the oral examination for thorocardiovascular diplomate in Manila – saying that DOH won’t require indigent patients to secure “guarantee letters” from lawmakers in order to avail themselves of financial assistance to buy medicine or pay hospital bills.
Dr. Rocha recounted that during his tour of duty at the NMMC, many poor people relied on the PDAF to pay their bills and medicines.
In the meantime, I join the growing public clamor to clean up government and the corrupt system of governance in this country. Let’s not play politics and grandstand to the crowd, majority of whom have empty stomachs and would readily follow those who promise to them the sun, the stars and the moon.
Only when the public is provided their needs and served can they wisely discuss ways of ensuring that their tax money go directly to benefit them and not the politicians they elect in office.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 28, 2013.