THERE are natural dependents like children on their parents, patients on their doctors, students on their teachers, to list some. But natural dependency is one of life’s exigencies, a transitory stage where the dependent is helped by a guardian to grow towards independence. A parent’s job, for instance, is basically to help a child grow into a mature and independent adult.

Parents cannot culture dependence on children without disastrous results like the mess of an immature adult. Good doctors and tea-chers help their patients and students for a time to heal and teach themselves, keeping the latter’s dependence to the minimum. Nature strives for maturity and independence. Any dependence beyond what is naturally temporary is against nature, hence counterproductive.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

The pork barrel (or its equivalent) is an instrument for culturing a permanent situation of dependency among Philippine society’s teeming poor. It is okay for citizens in need to run to government officials for temporary relief. Nevertheless, government officials have the responsibility to see to it that the dependence is temporary, that they put up structures for economic and political independence. The pork barrel does the exact opposite.

“Pork” is a permanent dole-out system that helps temporarily but imprisons citizens in a situation of perpetual dependency. Our legislators have in fact unabashedly given as reason for “pork”, their need for so-called “soft” projects, palliatives meant to convince the electorate to vote for them again. Priority projects, therefore, are wasteful white elephants where officials can have their names painted for campaign purposes.

Our legislators have just increased their “pork” by nearly P4 billion to P10.8 billion. That is now how much more money they can either stick directly into their pockets or get a percentage of or give totally, under the best scenario, to their constituents. But even under the best scenario, “pork” is still basically re-election money which, to be effectively such, is given in the form of dependency-inducing palliatives.

“Pork” is rightfully considered the mother of all corruptions because with it politicians do not have to be competent and honest to stay in office. They only need to give “soft” projects or cash dole-outs from their “pork” and people will vote for them again. Politicians have made people dependent on a “porky” diet of dole-outs that the latter have become addicted to it.

What do you think Cebu City’s “political budget” is all about?

Because of “pork” we have become a nation of dependents. One day, we are going to have a collective national “cardiac arrest” for being fed too much “pork” by our politicians.