Realigning something unconstitutional?

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Sunday, January 12, 2014


BRAZEN is one word I could think of to describe this act of realigning a budget deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC). Worst, one of them is not only linked to the Napoles scam, he further realigned his unconstitutional pork barrel funds to a city under the control of his father.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and eight other supposedly honorable members of the Senate have done something dishonorable of Guinness proportions. And they are justifying circumvention of a SC decision as if they are doing the public something good.

Nagsalig nga dugay pa ang eleksyon. Nagsalig nga daling makalimot ang mga Pilipino.

***

I believe these senators, people supposedly tasked with making our laws, are also banking on our people’s lack of outrage and acceptance of the prevailing corrupt system.

Every election, we accept the fact that vote-buying is part of the system. Good candidates who refuse to give even P50 to each voter won’t get their votes. Candidates who won’t buy votes are called “tihik,” even stupid.

“Even if they are poor, I can’t understand why many (Filipino voters) vote for those who buy votes. They could always accept the money and vote for the better candidate,” said one European who I had coffee with recently. I could imagine how stupid my grin was after I found myself at a loss for words.

But alas, even those who are not poor accept the system of patronage as normal. Why does the release of funds influence barangay councilors voting during a BCLP election?

Barangay captains are not exactly poor. Why do big allocations for barangay projects influence their votes during ABC elections?

Why do even hard-hitting journalists accept as part of the system the release of city funds to sway barangay officials? Why could Mayor Mike Rama treat limited city funds to help allies during electoral battles? On a national scale, why do funds like DAP, for instance, influence congressmen and senators to do the bidding of Malacañang tenants?

We are against P-Noy’s DAP, but why accept the use of LGU funds in a DAP-like manner?

***

After over 20 years as a journalist, I was able to witness an election of the Barangay Councilors League of the Philippines (BCLP) only last Saturday at the White Gold House. And I got to see media colleagues being pitted against each other. Team Rama, which led the counting, fielded Gerry Auxilio of radio dySS and Grace, the daughter of Sun.Star Cebu’s Ely Baquero. The team also was led by Sun.Star Publishing Inc.’s legal counsel Raymond Garcia.

The slate fielded by BOPK included The Freeman reporter Garry Lao and television personality Malou Tabar. But then, what is new about members of the Cebu media being divided along political lines?

***

The SC might have declared the PDAF unconstitutional, but the culture of patronage that fed on and sustained the pork barrel system through the decades still prevails.

During a meeting of committee leaders of the Cebu Coalition against the Pork Barrel System, we discussed strategies on educating the public and promoting barangay empowerment. Reflecting on what I saw during the BCLP elections, I told myself that the coalition has set for itself a formidable task.

But then, the brazenness of Jinggoy’s realignment of his pork barrel should have triggered public outrage of tsunami proportions. Subo palandungon nga wala pa ni mahitabo.

***

While the leaders of neighboring countries focused on the real agenda of the 2007 Asean Summit like the Asean Economic Community come 2015, our national and local leaders concentrated on how to make a fast buck. Shortly after the summit, Cebu was embroiled in the lamppost controversy that eventually pointed to the involvement of national officials.

It seems the earthquake last October also showed us how substandard the construction of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) was. I hope P160 million for the repair of CICC will result in a better building, not in more corruption.

***

As we celebrate the feast of our beloved Señor Sto. Niño, let us pray not just for hope in our struggle to stand up stronger than before the calamities we faced in 2013.

Let us ask for hope in our struggle to rid our political system of the pork barrel system and political patronage. Pit Senyor!

(politika2013.wordpress.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 13, 2014.

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