Investigating, investigating-A A +A
Saturday, September 14, 2013
THE pork barrel is hugging attention, you’d want to ask everybody you come across—friends and strangers—how they take it.
You listen to the investigation now going on— how far will it go, how much wrong have been done? It’s getting more problematic as the days bang in, always with some information more chilling than the last exposé about the misuse of the pork, as the people get hurt more with the disclosure of whistle blowers.
But, come now, who really should investigate it? This is only one of the problems people are thinking of. The Ombudsman, or Malacañang, or the Senate?
Where were you when people did the “Million People March”? Back here, were you at Fuente Osmeña wearing a pork head?
With President Noynoy Aquino suspending the pork barrel release while the probe is going on, some of the projects with real NGOs are affected adversely. And if the fund is abolished, the national government would have all the power to decide how to help the poor in the localities and there's the danger of the administration turning over-powerful.
While listening to the radio in a taxi ride home from office this week, I asked the driver what he thought about the Zamboanga raid by the MNLF where civilians were killed. Quickly, he said, “Ang taga-pork barrel anang nagpa-raid.” He said that when the raid hit the front page, news on the pork barrel scam stepped back to the sides. As of presstime, the Nur Misuari raiders are still there in the barangays they chose to overcome. But the scam spokesmen and the guilty just couldn’t hold back the PDAF newsy sensation.
I talked to the next taxi driver and asked about the pork barrel scam. He said the investigation would lead to no resolution. Refine or abolish the PDAF, what is it?
“Kutob ra gyud na sila nganha sa investigate, investigate! Unsa may akong mabuhat? Mag-drive na lang ko aron mabuhi, di ko moanha sa rally, ma’am. ”
What do you think of the pork barrel? I asked still another driver without any reference to the meaning of pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Right off, he said as he saw it that “Bisan gi-imbestigar, mag-sigi gyud na silag pangawat.” He said, for example, that our leaders build roads which aren’t good enough and will rot before the next election, and there’s fund for another road job, besides the political endowment.
The pork barrel, said to be an American political term introduced to the Philippines during the American regime here, was first brought into play in the Philippine Assembly in 1916. There was the big question of whether to make the country independent or a state and the American legislators quietly used the pork barrel to have their way.
Like any ordinary citizen, I knew little of the fund as the pork barrel although I heard of the scam. The origin of the word is American as it referred to salted pork placed in barrels meant to last for days distributed to slaves in plantations. The slaves then would rush to get their share of the pork in the barrel, in a fight?
A U.S. politician in 1919 wrote about the appropriations of the U.S. Congress saying “the eagerness of the slaves would result in a rush upon the pork barrel, in which each would strive to grab as much as possible for himself” like Negro slaves rushing. In their rush upon the pork barrel, each would try to grab as much as possible for himself. It’s a disgraceful origin for a term that even the man in the street uses without completely understanding why the pork should be abolished or why it could stay but be carefully reformed.
In the Philippine government in 1925, Senate minority leader Juan Sumulong charged the administration of corruption in the pork barrel funding.
This surprised everybody in the chamber and it brought on a way to look at it twice. But nothing has been done to refine and protect it from chances of corruption.
The pork barrel scheme disappeared during World War II in the absence of national authority and political normalcy. In the ‘50s, it was revived, this time the fund was not in lump sum, the legislators were given the power to choose the projects under the funding, a power which previously belonged to the secretary of commerce and communication.
In the Martial Law era, there was no pork barrel for lawmakers, the money went instead to the cronies of the national leaders, said political analyst Tony La Viña. The appropriations turned “yellow pork” when Pres. Corazon Aquino restored it in the effort to develop the countryside.
All, except one, whom I talked to about the pork issue are convinced that the PDAF should be abolished. But only three went to the rally at Fuente Osmeña.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 15, 2013.