Not just about theft-A A +A
Sunday, November 3, 2013
PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino framed the pork barrel issue during his primetime television message as mere theft of lump sums allocated for pet projects of legislators. He accepts as normal the use of such lump sums as long as these are not stolen the way of the Janet Napoles scam.
Seemingly addressing his diminished, yet still large base of pro-Aquino supporters, the President tried to rally them against those being accused of collusion with the pork scam. For the President, these guilty of the multi-billion pork scam are the ones using squid tactics.
The President, the way I see it, has a point. We should go after these pork barrel scammers. These people are now trying their best at muddling the issue.
However, President Noynoy Aquino failed to see that many supporters of his “matuwid na daan” had already gone beyond the theft angle in the pork barrel issue.
For members of the Cebu Coalition against the Pork Barrel System, for instance, the pork barrel issue goes beyond the scam perpetrated by a number of legislators and operators like Napoles. Pork barrel is intertwined with patronage politics and the phenomenon of vote-buying.
For why would politicians brazenly spend several millions even during barangay elections? They know the money for supposedly oiling the so-called political machine and vote-buying can easily be recovered from the pork barrel.
Ordinarily, the money comes from the normal 10-percent kickback called SOP. We now know that those who are smarter found a way of pocketing 100 percent.
For President Aquino, the wrong done was the 100-percent theft. Pork barrel and patronage are normal. Apparently, his “matuwid na daan” has not gone out of the traditional political box.
This is probably the reason he could not fathom why his popularity is diminishing even as the ratings of the opposition has also not gone up.
The way I see things from my perch while I write this column, the pork barrel issue has struck a sensitive chord in ordinary folks who dutifully and regularly pay taxes.
And they are realizing that getting big names thrown in jail is not enough. We must get rid of the pork barrel system and strike a mortal blow to patronage politics.
I am glad there are fellow Cebuanos who did not limit themselves to merely debating the situation. I am glad there are fellow Cebuanos who are now moving ahead the pork barrel advocacy. In fact, a national consultation on people’s initiative will be hosted by no less than Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma at his residence next weekend.
Though the local and national media are just getting wind of this development, we have been discussing people’s initiative within the past few weeks in social media like the Maghisgot Kita’g Politika Bay. I even wrote in this column before the Oct. 15 quake struck about the crucial role the Cebu archbishop will be playing. Abtik lang gyud si Jonji Gonzales of tenminutes.ph for piecing together the story first.
Despite talks that the P-Noy administration will give up pork barrel, we are realizing that our legislators won’t be giving up their cherished pork barrel so easily. They won’t give up the pork barrel in a silver platter.
After P-Noy’s televised message on DAP last week, we are realizing that even he failed to get it. P-Noy used DAP to increase the pork barrel of legislators. That’s patronage politics big time.
Realizing the need to expand its ranks beyond Cebu to secure signatures of over three percent of the electorate in each congressional district, the Cebu coalition is inviting key people to attend the consultation to beef up its national structure.
A few weeks ago, former CJ Reynato Puno said the Cebu coalition is doing the people’s initiative wrong by immediately going into signature signing. The man Marites Vitug described in her book “Shadow of Doubt” as “The Chameleon” was obviously misinformed.
Even before Puno came into the picture, the Cebu coalition already discussed this option and we are now moving ahead.
With the barangay elections behind us, I hope our politicians will shed off their partisanship and focus on a non-partisan approach to rebuilding Cebu and Bohol.
In Cebu, attention had been particularly focused on the rebuilding of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC). Early last week, Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmena said she is not against the building of a new CCMC. Her concern, she said, are the displaced patients and the availability of P103 million in calamity funds that the Rama administration can immediately use. Judging from the reactions online, Rama partisans could not conceive of BOPK supporting the mayor on the CCMC issue. Para nako, the sooner the warring Team Rama and BOPK agree on a mutual win-win arrangement, the better for all of us.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 04, 2013.