Sustained campaign-A A +A
By Mel Libre
Friday, August 30, 2013
THE fury of natural calamities has taken its toll on lives and damaged properties year in and year out in the Philippines. But this nation has been subjected to far worse destruction that has brought the country to near ruin-–government corruption.
It never stops, from former president Elpidio Quirino’s “golden orinola” that saw the first impeachment trial of a sitting president to Ferdinand Marcos’s conjugal kleptocracy; from Joseph Estrada’s conviction to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s fall from grace.
What do we know?
We have another scam that could be the mother of all scams involving businesswoman Janet Napoles, whose non-government organizations (NGOs) were alleged to have been used as conduit to siphon funds for her personal profit.
In the Senate inquiry, Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan revealed that more than P1 billion in pork barrel money were given by senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Gregorio Honasan, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada to pseudo-NGOs created by Napoles.
Of course, the four deny the allegations, thus, let us presume them to be innocent. For now we can consider them as victims of the illegal scheme of Napoles until a report comes out of the inquiry.
This wholesale thievery wouldn’t have been discovered if not for people who squealed. For we know that corruption in government has been so entrenched that dishonesty has become more of the norm than the exception.
True that there are many public servants who find satisfaction in their serving the public, but there are many as well who take government employment more as an opportunity to enrich themselves from the people’s money.
A student once approached me more than a decade ago as I was waiting for a taxi. He asked me if I wanted to buy a car (I had two vehicles then). He said he knew friends in the Bureau of Customs who were looking for prospective buyers of hot cars to be sold at much lower price than those in the market.
I asked him if this was illegal; he answered in the affirmative. I told him I was not interested. It made me realize that there are people who have accepted corruption as normal so they no longer feel any shame in getting others to their game.
Of course, we know that pork barrel is wrong, for why should legislators be appropriating money for their constituents when their responsibility is to make laws.
But nobody seemed to complain, so long as this congressman or that senator was
generous and set aside part of his allocation for a decent project for the community.
If Napoles could fool brilliant Juan Ponce Enrile big time, there would be people of her kind who may have fooled, if not connived, with legislators of lesser pedigree.
It is therefore important for a sustained people’s campaign to finally put a stop to allocating pork barrel (of whatever name they may call it) to legislators.
If we are successful, then the corrupt will not be attracted to the job of a lawmaker.
Then maybe we can have honest and dedicated people running for Congress.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 31, 2013.