PAMPANGA

Sangil: P4 trillion is a lot of money

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THE numbers are coming up. The approved executive budget for the national expenditures program is more than P4 trillion. That's a lot of money. You and me made it to trillions. Each time you get your paycheck, 20 percent goes to the national treasury. Every time you purchase groceries, medicines, clothes, hardware materials or going to the theater you contribute to government. If spent properly and cascade to the programs as intended and nothing for private pockets via the sticky fingers of corrupt officials, the country can move forward faster. Not when we hear some officials always on junkets abroad. Not when we hear words like "farm to pockets road." When agencies are continuing their merry ways of rigging the bidding of infrastructure projects and purchases of items. This I recall when I was still with government. I was once invited to Malacañang together with my fellow officers at the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) to hand a remittance of more than P2 billion to then President Benigno Aquino. All government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) hand their earnings to the president in a ceremony prepared for that purpose. The BCDA group gets first row like Pagcor, which remit annually billions and billions, more so now under Chairperson Andrea "Didi" Domingo. It is commonly followed by the Land Bank of the Philippines remitting several billions more. Other agencies handed their earnings and they belong to what they call the "billionaires club." For its part, then Clark Development Corporation (CDC) handed P110 million. Now, it may go up because CDC netted P2 billion in 2019 under the watch of President Noel F. Manankil. Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) handed P185 million. Maybe higher now under the leadership of Administrator Amy Eisma. The billions of pesos remitted by these GOCCs to the president in that ceremony goes afterwards to the national treasury for both houses of congress, the House of Representatives and the senate will pass upon the national budget. That's where "disasters" happened. When you see on TV documentaries about children crossing rivers because of lack of a connecting bridge in going to their school. When you see a classroom filled with kids and the classrooms had already seen better days, when you see no dryer for the palay harvest, when you see an almost impassable road with passengers crowded on top of a jeepney, you may scratch your head and ask yourself, "Nasaan napunta ang pera?" It is a clear demonstration of how the money was mismanaged. Even in local communities, provinces, congressional districts, cities, towns down to the barangay level, the constituency vote for those who will have more money to spend. In many cases votes are for sale. We have nobody to blame but the people themselves. The present day solons are there in the House of Representatives and in the senate because you voted them to office. In the early years, when I was still in high school, the people then voted for senators like Jovito Salonga, Jose Diokno, Lorenzo Sumulong, Benigno Aquino, Ambrosio Padilla, Arturo Tolentino, Lorenzo Tanada, Soc Rodrigo. Now we have Bong Go, Bato De La Rosa, Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla, Nancy Binay and Cynthia Villar. Now you can arrive on a conclusion. Yes Virginia, there was pork barrel already in those years, but the senator didn't have sticky fingers. As a matter of fact, in the United States of America, pork barrel are given to each congressman and senator each year, and was a matter of right by each for past many decades. Not a single cent was pocketed. That's why they have a strong democracy. There are senators and the hundreds of congressmen suspected of pocketing millions of the people's money must be rich even before Janet Napoles thought of the pork barrel scam. Why then they got involved in this illegal and immoral undertaking? It's greed. I can't understand why steal more money, when you already have bundle of them, which in ten lifetimes cannot be exhausted. Each one of us have only one lifetime. No one lives forever. And the good lesson to remember is that the only money you have is the money you spent.


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