PDAF, SPF and plunder-A A +A
Slice of Life
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
ON THE alleged illegal disbursements of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), three senators -- Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada -- have been indicted for plunder, along with Janet Lim-Napoles and several others criminally liable for plunder and graft.
Senator Enrile faces 15 counts of graft, Revilla 16 and Estrada 11.
Plunder is punishable by reclusion perpetua or life, and forfeiture of the ill-gotten wealth in favor of the government. It is a nonbailable offense.
The case was filed based on the expose of whistle-blower Benhur Luy who gave evidence of huge amounts of the PDAF allocations going to alleged "dummy" NGOs in a scheme supposedly hatched by Napoles. It is said that the supposed PDAF-funded projects turned out to be "ghost" projects.
The wheel of justice is turning. Still, it should not be forgotten that the PDAF was resurrected in a different form. Congress representatives and Senators are still provided with discretionary funds to support their projects. In the executive level, the Special Purpose Fund (SPF) continues.
By any other name and form, it remains a symbol of dirty patronage politics, and an enticing source of corruption.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) revealed that “SPFs and lump-sums constitute still over half” of the P2.006 trillion of the national budget for 2013. SPFs alone also account to a huge 22 percent of the current P2.3-trillion national budget. Senate probe shows that P100 million from the president's P72.11-billion stimulus funds went to bogus government-formed NGOs linked with the pork barrel scam.
In our midst are unscrupulous individuals using their government position to squander resources. This is all about systemic corruption where the taxes of Filipinos from their meager income are slashed and pocketed by government officials while tiny provisions for health, education, infrastructure and housing are spread thinly.
The Council for Health and Development, an organization of community based health programs said the P10 billion pork barrel scam should have fund the salary of 16,667 doctors or 33,333 nurses in rural areas for one year; fund the treatment of 2.5 million Tuberculosis patients; treat 1.25 million Dengue patients; pay for the anti-retroviral treatment of 55,556 HIV/Aids patients for one year and provide vaccines to 12 million babies.
That the pork barrel is still considered by the President as a "great equalizer" needs the conscientious will of those in the government to reassess its position reassess. That Malacañang continue to dilly-dally on the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) speaks strongly on its political will and commitment.
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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 03, 2014.