Anti-pork unity-A A +A
Sunday, October 6, 2013
HAS the anti-pork fervor dissipated that led to smaller mass mobilizations? This question arose after last week’s Makati rally that drew a crowd smaller than the one we gathered in Cebu last Sept. 29. I also remember reading columnist Bobit Avila also expecting the more organized Cebu anti-pork coalition to gather a bigger crowd at the Plaza Independencia.
I don’t have a definite answer. But I have a two-point theory after hearing bits and pieces of information here and there.
One, there is a need to thresh out unity issues from various groups and sectors gathering together in the anti-pork movement. I believe all prime-movers should agree more strongly and act accordingly on removing the pork barrel as basis of unity.
I can say we have lots on progress on this front here in Cebu with the active participation of the archdiocesan discernment group. I can’t say the same for the anti-pork groups at the national level.
Two, the movement is basically middle class and it needs to engage the broad masses–people at the grassroots–in greater numbers.
Many probably won’t agree with me. But it has been patronage politics engaging the broad masses for quite a long time. Even in Cebu City, good candidates cannot win elections if they won’t play and excel in the devil’s game, the so-called “duwa sa yawa,” as the late Nong Amon aptly put it several decades ago.
This is only possible because grassroots voters expect money and goodies, either direct from a politician’s pocket or from official government assistance like that for senior citizens or scholarships or medicines. That has been the patronage system since the Americans supposedly taught us democracy. Filipino politicians since the time of Quezon and Don Sergio have been improving on this patronage system every election or perish as better players emerge. Each trapo must be better to prevail over the other devils playing the same game to the delight of the most grassroots voters.
The challenge for the anti-pork movement now is how to wean the basic masses from the clutches of patronage politics and join the ranks of people fighting to end this system.
I don’t think I have answers to this. Perhaps, I need more of what Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma asked us to do–discernment.
Dilaab’s Fr. Melo Diola nudged the Cebu anti-pork prime movers during a weekend workshop to issue a statement on the coming barangay election. I still have to read Dilaab materials but I just want to say that the barangay election is often a clash of grassroots electoral machines of dominant politicians.
The law, for instance, says the barangay election must be non-partisan. But opposing bandos and teams, for instance, had a skirmish of sorts over who distributes the fund assistance for our senior folks. I feel sad to hear one partisan group say, “Reklamo na mo karon nga kami na ang nakapabor.” This made me wonder whether the “tul-iron ang hiwi” line last May was more of an empty promise.
Patronage politics is alive and kicking. And our senior citizens are again enjoying the benefits.
Is it possible to wean our seniors from the clutches of patronage? I really don’t know. Hypocritical politicians are now saying the SK has become breeding grounds for patronage politics. During the last electoral campaign, I saw how younger generations cheered when their lolos and lolas received their assistance. The patronage system has ways of sustaining itself through the decades.
As of the moment though, I think there is hope in the thought that more sick poor folks will benefit from medical assistance funds if no politician will take at least 10 percent cuts called SOP. There will be more scholar beneficiaries if the funds go directly to state and public schools rather than coursed through politicians who help themselves in the process to win the next election. There is hope in the thought that under a system without the pork barrel, the poor will benefit more.
Yes there is hope. More young people joined the anti-pork rally at the Plaza Independencia on Sept. 29. I urge the anti-pork coalition to engage the youth more.
Instead of sustaining the old system, the youth should beef up our ranks as we look forward to a better future.
Should “matuwid na daan” at the Bureau of Customs be as messy as what is happening now? While the pork barrel scam, for example, is stealing from government coffers, intramurals at the bureau usually involves funds still uncollected. The past two weeks of confusing revamps practically placed the local bureau on a gridlock. Commissioner Ruffy Biazon only made the mess worse.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 07, 2013.