‘Pork’ scam-A A +A
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino was reported to have said the other day that he would have two or three cases filed against those who were involved in the pork barrel fund scam.
PNoy, in an interview in Quezon City where he attended the Pambansang Kongreso at the Ateneo de Manila University, had ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to file at least two to three strongest cases about the pork barrel fund anomaly as soon as possible.
The President must be deeply riled by the P10-billion pork barrel fund scam perpetrated over the past many years using non-government organizations (NGO) as the funnel through which the public fund was transferred.
And of course, the money that came from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of members of the two houses of Congress is not accountable to anyone except the lawmakers themselves.
Which is why, distasteful and hurting as it may seem to the average constituent, the matter cannot be corrected immediately even with the apprehension of the suspect, who has already a warrant for her arrest, and her conviction.
The problem with Congressional allowances is that it is linked up with politics.
The way I understand it, members of the two houses of Congress are extended that privilege under the political tradition of our legislative branch specifically because of its political function.
A joke has Janet Lim-Napoles saying that part of her reported billions of pesos in income come from the rent of her 28 houses. But someone quickly added two more houses: those in Congress.
This obviously painful joke on the pork scam implies that not just one or two members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have been channeling their “pork” through Napoles’s non-government organization for many years now, enough to give her billions of pesos, and the contributing lawmakers a number of millions of pesos also.
This, of course, gives the President his reason to contemplate about abolishing the pork barrel fund, and save billions of pesos from the PDAF fund for the Filipino people.
But is it wise to do that?
The pork barrel fund, as I have pointed out in a previous column, is part and parcel of democratic politics as it was developed early in the northern United States.
US President Abraham Lincoln effectively used the pork barrel when he campaigned for the American presidency during his time. And succeeding American presidents also did the same, elevating what was earlier real pork minced meat which was eaten cold.
Then later, the pork in the barrel became cash in the barrel that “fueled” the campaign for the American presidency. And now, the American tradition that Filipino politicians later on had effectively aped, consider the practice as part of our own.
Could we then decide to do away with the tradition?
Indeed, Philippine political campaigns can no more be as “colorful” as it is today without the traditional pork barrel fund.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 21, 2013.