Tommy’s defense of PDAF

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Monday, August 18, 2014


YOU HAVE to give it to former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña. He doesn’t back down from a good argument even if it means taking the unpopular side.

Yesterday on Frankahay Ta (DYCM, 1152 AM, 7 to 8 a.m.), Tommy took issue with a pastoral letter on the controversial pork barrel issued by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and read in all Catholic churches in the archdiocese last Sunday.

The legislators are unwilling to part with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) notwithstanding the Supreme Court decision that declared it as unconstitutional, Palma said, citing supposed lump sum insertions in the proposed 2015 budget.

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The archbishop urged the laity and his vicars and priests to support the launching of a People’s Initiave in Cebu this week to craft a law that would completely abolish the pork barrel. Such a law, Palma said, cannot be vetoed by the President.

But the pork barrel is the only chance for remote areas like Santander, Cebu and Sicogon in Iloilo to get their share of public funds, Osmeña argued. Without the PDAF, he said, all the funds will be retained by Imperial Manila.

But what guarantee does he have that the congressmen and senators will not abuse their pork barrel? There are no absolute guarantees, Osmeña conceded, as the temptation is always there when it comes to money. But try jailing the crooks, he said.

Osmeña has a point. You don’t abolish a thing that has its uses because there is a chance that it will result in evil. Take ballroom dancing, for example. Are we going to outlaw it because of the incidents of matrons falling for their dance instructors?

In the same interview, Osmeña said he had no problems with allies leaving him, saying he has gotten used to it. But he lamented that the four BOPK councilors who voted to authorize Mayor Michael Rama to sell the South Road Properties (SRP) did so without the courtesy of consulting him. “They waited until I left for the U.S.,” he said.

He would not categorically declare though that the four are considered resigned from the BOPK. Without naming names, Osmeña said the four owe it to the public to explain what they did. They can’t continue to mouth general statements about acting on principle, he told me. “I don’t even know where they’re coming from.”

He reiterated his opposition to the sale of the SRP because it will deprive the city the opportunity to earn more. Rama is only interested in getting himself reelected, he charged. “He doesn’t care what happens after his term ends.”

Osmeña appears resigned that the sale will push through, saying he will not try to stop it anymore. “Let the people stop Rama if they want. They voted for him.”

Tomorrow, former city councilor Joey Daluz will guest in the same radio program to answer Tommy’s allegations.

***

So finally, the Department of Transportation and Communications has released the findings of the Special Board of Marine Inquiry on the collision between the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas and the Sulpicio Siete off the coast of Talisay one year ago.

If the irony hasn’t struck you yet, this one will: only the shipping companies involved – 2GO and the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. – have been given copies of the results. The public, particularly the families of the victims of the sinking, will not have a chance to find out who, in the eyes of the presumed maritime experts, is guilty for the collision.

The SBMI is not intended to pin blame on anyone, the Philippine Coast Guard under whose auspices the inquiry was conducted, explained. It’s purpose is to determine what measures to take in order to avoid a repeat of the incident.

You know what I think of the explanations? B.S., that is what it is.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 19, 2014.

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