Legislators can live without ‘pork’-A A +A
Thursday, August 22, 2013
THE issue on the billions of pesos in “pork funds” that went to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) is not a joke. To complement it, the Commission on Audit (COA) released its special report on the pattern of abuse of the PDAF (priority development assistance fund).
The joke is that Janet Lim-Napoles, who is linked to the scam, owns 28 houses and condo units, including the Upper House and Lower House of Congress. It should be 29, to include Malacañang. Napoles claimed she donated funds in the last presidential polls.
The people are not anymore taking the issue lightly. Netizens have called for a mass gathering at the Rizal Park Manila on Aug. 26, National Heroes Day, to show people’s abhorrence of the pork barrel system.
But President Noynoy Aquino would not budge. He wants the pork barrel to stay on the premise that there are good uses to it. What an argument! No, Mr. President, it is all about patronage politics.
Look at Metro Manila and the neighboring provinces. Every monsoon it is under water.
The flood victims, while they can still afford to smile, definitely need help.
The billions of pesos that went into the wrong pockets or have fattened the wallets of legislators could have been used during calamities. Or, it could have been used to build a better drainage system for the metropolis.
COA’s special report dates back to the time of former president Gloria Arroyo. She doled out pork to allies and even to the opposition in Congress, making her popular to her minions.
I read in the list some of our congressman-friends here in Cebu and other provinces. The amount given to each legislator, including to PNoy, who was a congressman then, totaled to billions of pesos.
This could be the reason perhaps that Congress kept mum on the Napoles pork scam. The senators only took up the issue after COA released its special report that said that almost all legislatora received pork from Arroyo.
No wonder many politicians live in luxury even when they or their families have no source of income other than what they received as salaries and allowances.
Worse, corruption has trickled down even to the lowest unit of government, the barangay. In Leyte, some barangay and town officials have become arrogant and condescending. They use their office to fleece the legitimate mining operators.
PNoy’s “tuwid na daan” is a star where most people don’t wish to reach. Unless and until the pork is abolished, as what former senator Ping Lacson advocated in the halls of Congress 10 years ago, this government would still get on crooked ways.
A friend, Ric Santos, sent me an email on the privilege speech of Lacson on March 11, 2003 at the Senate where he called for the scrapping of the pork barrel that he calls “a very corrupt and corrupting system in our political institutions.”
Part of Lacson’s speech read: “We now must move to abolish the pork barrel system. We must see its end during our watch without need to mourn its loss. It is a virus of corruption that must die.”
Lacson then said “there is no better hall on this space on earth to make it happen than the Senate--expectedly, a place of men and women with mature age, with honor, with dignity and with integrity.”
He noted that “we were elected by the Filipino people to make good laws for the common good and never to make gold under the ‘pork barrel’ system.”
I like this part: “We were voted into office to provide checks and balance under the principle of powers and not to accept fat checks to enhance our bank account balance…With the pork barrel system, we are all perceived as dirty, corrupt and greedy politicians. Without it, we can all become better statesmen and public servants.”
“It is time to bring the pork barrel system down. Or, we all go down under. We can surely live without pork. Certainly, there is life without it,” Lacson said.
PNoy should be reminded of former senator Lacson’s privilege speech. It is refreshing and nerve-wracking but factual. Lacson is being groomed for a Cabinet position.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2013.