Fair exchange

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Friday, December 20, 2013

A NEWS story that came out yesterday drew a kind of unexpected guffaw about the prospect of Christmas for some people. This is especially so for those who indulge in politics as a career and also as a way of going through life.

But let me really come frankly to the report I read yesterday about a member of Congress who came out with a rather brilliant--to me--proposal for the 2014 budget.

I must confess that I have been adamant from the very beginning regarding the move to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf) for the simple reason that it is a waste of the people’s taxes since it is politically wasted.

That it was appropriated to the lawmakers for them to use at will meant that these would be used by them to tighten their hold on their political turf. And since people wanted to save on public funds, it should be the Pdaf that should go.

However, I think that in times of extreme need, there must be funds that our government can immediately access to help those in dire need of cash. The PDAF is such fund.

But it was tied up with the so-called political issues and our masses did not believe that they were honestly used for the people. As has been lately uncovered, billions of pesos in such fund went to private entities or to personal pockets.

And so, as a way of cleansing the people’s minds and hearts about the Pdaf and its source--the politics that has made the fund politically dirty--people demanded that Congress abolish it, and for those involved in the uncovered scam be charged for plunder before the law.

This is something that makes the whole situation truly sad. But with the fact that a member of the House has come up with a face-saving proposal, I can still see hope at the end of the tunnel.

It is urgent, and important, I think that some recourse can be found so our people can resort to in times of emergencies and calamities where immediate cash could be made available to the victims.

This was deftly demonstrated when the 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol recently and destroyed towns, toppling down houses and churches, as well as infrastructures that will take time and money to repair, not to say hundreds of lives lost.

And then we were whacked with a much more terrible whip that hit towns and cities with a cyclone named Yolanda, which was accompanied with tremendous storm surges that killed a few thousand victims, and destroyed whole towns and cities in our central region of the Visayas.

Today, we are still faced with the challenge of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction that have drawn global concerns.

Thus, with the call by a Cebuano member of Congress to include in the 2014 budget a calamity fund for members of Congress instead of the Pdaf, I am heartened.

At the moment, I believe that an appropriation of a calamity fund instead of Pdaf to Congress is a fair exchange.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 20, 2013.


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