Messy democracy-A A +A
Friday, October 4, 2013
THE foundation of the legislative branch of government in the Philippines has been shaken with the public clamor for the abolition of the pork barrel system that has been exposed as a wholesale package for graft and corruption.
It has been sort of public knowledge that congressmen take advantage of pork barrel to support pet projects for their constituents and, for the unscrupulous ones, as a source of kickbacks for their personal interest.
While there have been few convictions for the dishonest ones, the expose of the P10 billion scam that involved Janet Napoles and some senators led by Juan Ponce Enrile is mindboggling. The modus operandi was clearly stated in the charge sheet against the
senators, their staff and agency officials who took part in the illicit scheme.
What once were just petty misdeeds of congressmen has been turned into an institutionalized procedure put in place by public servants trusted by the citizens to safeguard government finances.
But it isn’t just the Philippine Congress that suffers from poor public perception.
The legislative branches in Greece and the United States aren’t looking good as well.
Last week in Athens, five members of parliament including its leader Nikos Michaloliakos of the anti-immigration party, Golden Dawn, were charged with membership in a criminal organization with intent to commit crimes. The investigation on the criminal activities of the neo-Nazi party was triggered by the killing of a left-wing rapper.
In the United States, President Barack Obama is fighting a war against the Republicans who have held in ransom the stop-gap budget measures to fund federal services on condition that Obamacare, the President’s public healthcare scheme be delayed by a year.
Obama did not compromise and, for the first time since 1995-1996, the US Government shut down, not only putting full and partial stoppage of operations in a number of departments but threatening to place the US in default in some of its obligations.
"Democracy's messy. But when you have a situation in which a faction is willing potentially to default on US Government obligations, then we are in trouble," Obama told US television.
The impact of the shutdown is horrendous, costing the US economy around US $300 million a day, and cut as much as 0.9 per cent from US GDP in the third quarter if it continues for three weeks, that could block America's economic recovery.
Already the Republican leader of the House, Speaker John Boehner, has been demonized, the same way that Philippine Senate President Franklin Drilon has been pictured as chief pig in a chamber of dirty swine.
Gone are the days when politicians were called statesmen and addressing them ‘Honorable’ had genuine meaning. These latest controversies in legislatures around the world only bury deeper in the mud what little respect there is left for politicians.
I tend to agree with President Obama. Yes, we are in a mess; yes, we are in trouble.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 05, 2013.