SO MUCH has been said about "abolish pork barrel system" but something seems missing. Has anyone suggested any alternative?
But is pork the real root of corruption? Let us say a person is convicted of rape. When asked why he did such crime, he would say it is because he found the lady beautiful and tempting. Should everyone go and kill all beautiful women so that rape will end?
That logic may sound oversimplified and childish but that is what the call is saying.
The controversy on the pork barrel scam sheds light on the corrupt officials, ergo, many say, it should be abolished. But what would happen to the common folk if the pork barrel for the betterment of the nation be abolished?
Every decision must be followed by suggestions but it seems that our honorable lawmakers are busy diverting the minds of the people from the real issues.
With all the fuss over the pork barrel scam, there are still a number of Pinoys who have no idea what it is.
Priority Development Assistance Fund, a government program most commonly known as Pork Barrel, has existed and been institutionalized for many years. It is the distribution of money for the lawmakers and congressmen to aid their official projects.
The people must remember that the scheme had its merits such as the paving of roads and bridges, scholarships, support for poor farmers and legitimate non-government organizations.
The challenge now is to ensure that those who continue to benefit from it will not be affected if and when the pork barrel is scrapped. There must be a guarantee that these people can still go to school and continue to receive medical assistance.
The solution to the pork barrel issue is not abrogation but greater accountability, transparency, and rationality in its utilization.
What can be done?
There must be a promotion of greater transparency in the use of pork barrel funds. The officials must be required to list their reports through the print media. By doing so, the Filipinos will have a clearer and seemingly honest record.
There must also be a creation of watchdog groups that shall monitor these government or non-government organizations. They shall see for themselves these so-called organizations' existence.
Before they send the money, these watchdogs must scrutinize if such organization exists and if the suggested project seems fit. They shall also determine if the organization is a type of "bad pork" or "good pork."
If the request of the lawmaker or congressman is approved, the watchdogs must still be on the lookout. If no such project has been under operation, then they shall determine if it was after all a scam or not.
Each government must have a website or public page inclusive of their budgets and expenditures. A constitutional liquidation must be presented each month with official receipts acknowledged by BIR.
Perhaps the most obvious solution for this problem is to allocate directly the money to the social services.
For the aid of the scholars, money must be sent directly to the Department of Education.
If there is a need for a support to free medicines, the money must be sent directly to the Department of Health.
If farmers ask for aid for their plantation, they won't need to approach their congressman but directly go to Department of Agrarian Reform.
The common folk must also keep an eye on their government leaders. They have all the right to undertake any official who have gone bad and corrupt if proven factual.
If we adapt these suggestions, then the public would have a better appreciation of the pork barrel.
While the call to suspend pork barrel comes from the good intentions to curb corruption and promote good governance, the people must make sure that all voices in our country are considered especially those that will be greatly affected of this decision.
The worst that may happen is that it may further marginalize those who are already marginalized if we do not come up with possible alternatives to help those that benefit from their congressmen or senator's pork.
So for the better future of our country, alternatives must be implemented and thought of. Let us not let the emotions and anger interfere with the decisions that are ought to be made. (Sharlene Marie A. Ferraren)
* Sunday Essays are articles written by Ateneo de Davao University students for their advanced journalism class.