Confusing ‘pork’ issue with legal questions-A A +A
Friday, October 11, 2013
MALACAÑANG argues that its pork barrel is legal and constitutional because it has been honest in spending it. Some legislators argue that their pork barrel is beyond scrutiny by the Supreme Court (SC) because Congress alone determines wisdom of spending.
The issues now being heard in the high tribunal tend to confuse a public not keen about legal nuances of the controversy.
And it's in the court of public opinion that spin-masters of Palace and Congress are using the arguments.
Why question President Aquino's pork barrel when, as PNoy himself put it, he has been "very careful" about its spending?
Honesty, that pitch goes, justifies the use of the fund and compensates for any failure of legal standards.
Under a rule of law, however, that isn't enough.
The pork barrel, be it PNoy's DAP or Congress's PDAF, must not be legally or constitutionally flawed.
And constitutional experts say the pork barrel, by whatever name, does.
PNoy's honesty may be reassuring, compared to the plunder on the legislators' PDAF, but it won't cure BAP's defect.
The SC doesn't question wisdom on how public funds are spent but only on their legality.
Lawmakers may know better as to what projects and where in their locality the money goes but can they lawfully identify the use after the appropriation bill is passed?
Does the right to legislate continue after the bill has gone out of Congress?
It's not just legal mumbo-jumbo. It's what the law and the Constitution provide. Given the gigantic fraud on public money, the rules matter more than ever.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 11, 2013.