In fairness

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014


THE pork barrel, one will recall, was born out of the need of legislators to implement projects so they can show some concrete, often literally, accomplishments to their constituents.

The pork barrel, therefore, was an anomaly from the very start. Why should legislators be evaluated (for re-election purposes?) for executive accomplishments when people elected them for legislative work?

Nevertheless, it is more because of abuse that this discretionary fund of sorts is now in the cross-hairs of a people’s initiative to abolish. But the administration claims it has already been abolished. It means the administration has a different definition of pork than the people. If the people, however, are truly PNoy’s bosses then what should be abolished is pork as the people defineit in their initiative.

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In any case, I don’t see how anybody can put a stop to the people’s surge towards the abolition of pork. Which now brings me to my point.

In the event of pork’s abolition,legislators will cease to have executive functions but will remain compensated for full time legislative work when many of them simply moonlight in legislative work while spending more time in many other gainful occupations.

In view of that, I am putting back on the table an earlier proposal for members of Congress to be paid on a no-work-no-pay basis. Even without pork, legislators are still overpaid with monthly salaries and allowances for part-time work. In fairness to daily wage earners for whom Congress legislates very little minimum pay for so much heavy work, legislators should be paid on a no-work-no-pay basis.

Congressman Manny Pacquiao, for instance, pursues full-time his boxing and now basketball careers. His sideline jobs include TV-hosting, movie-acting and product-endorsing. That leaves him very little time for congressional work. That means he is really just moonlighting as a congressman. Yet he gets full-time pay. How many others are really just moonlighting as legislators?

Legislating is part-time work, any way you look at it. It becomes even more part-time when you factor in the absences incurred by legislators who are chasing money or just enjoying a junket elsewhere. Yet, they are more than handsomely compensated. Thus, they live in houses and ride in cars fit for royalty when the people they are lording over are mired in abject poverty.

Because many workers in the country are underpaid for overwork we demand higher wages for them. In fairness, we should demand lower wages for legislators who are grossly overpaid for underwork. But, like pork only a people’s initiative can change this.

Correcting this anomaly has, therefore, to be one of the people’s next initiatives.

Again, in fairness…

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 03, 2014.

Opinion

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