CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/01 September) — The revolting revelations of pork abuse should serve to educate our voters on the effects of their vote. May they see the connection between how they vote and how the government behaves after the voting is over.
Long years with sermons, Namfrel, PPCRV, and what-have-you have not sold to our voters the message that corruption in government is the result of voting for candidates with questionable conduct, habits, values, or morals.
People still don’t get it that a candidate who behaves dishonorably is not likely to perform his duty with honor, loyalty, or integrity. They don’t even see how a traitorous candidate, who defies and threatens the life of his commander-in-chief, can resist a chance to plunder, to betray his oath of office, or to inflict damage on society if it will serve his purpose.
During Cory’s presidency, many coups were attempted, resulting to violence and disruption that set back our society’s recovery from the effects of Dictatorship. Lives and expensive government property and equipment were lost.
When the attempts failed, Gregorio Honasan and his cohorts weren’t even made to account or reimburse, much less to pay, for the damage they caused in misusing the command entrusted to them along with the arms, equipment, and other logistics that were meant to secure us and our government.
They threatened our state’s security instead of protect it. They committed treason against the republic. And as if that wasn’t so bad, we rewarded him (and Antonio Trillanes later after his own mutiny against Gloria) with Senate seats. We made them senators—and instant multi-millionaires earning P200 million in yearly pork barrel allowances, of which only the devil and their favorite contractors know how much they keep for themselves!
Not only that, we gave them the title of “honorable” so they could join the super exclusive ranks of the rich and powerful and famous! If with their social status and financial resources they now have the effrontery to commit plunder with impunity, who’s to blame? In primary school, they used to say: “Spare the rod and spoil the child!” Well, this isn’t primary school… all we need is enforce the law.
In 1998 Pinoys voted for Erap in vast numbers. Here was a candidate with such low morals that he belittled his marriage vows openly and shamelessly. Also well-known as an indulgent cad—with inveterate habits of gambling, drinking, and other vice—people elected him anyway.
When he became president, it was no surprise that he proved unfaithful to his Oath of Office and behaved scandalously. Only then did people realize that their votes for him were in vain, especially when it became necessary to impeach and drive him away. Had Gloria not pardoned him, Erap would still be in jail.
Ironically, today Gloria is the one in jail while Erap is mayor of Manila. Poetic justice?
12 Senators, 180 Congressmen, 82 NGOs
Comes now the pork barrel issue. The Commission on Audit (COA) so far has identified as many as 12 senators and 180 congressmen who may have abused their pork barrel allocations—the so-called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). This fund sets aside P200 million worth of goods and services every year for every senator and P70 million for every member of the Lower House also.
How many Filipinos earn this much? How many Filipinos can manage this much with minimal transparency and accountability—and come out clean? And how many impoverished Filipinos continue to be hungry because these amounts are placed in the hands of senators and congressmen?
Any way you look at these huge gratuitous allowances, they are an invitation to financial mischief. Is it wise for the leadership to think that these funds will be managed efficiently or honestly by these fellows??
If so, it speaks lowly of their sense of probity. Do they actually expect themselves or their colleagues to be forthright or honest about its handling? Billions are involved, maybe even trillions. There are myriad, ingenious ways of subterfuge and dissembling. And there is no lack for experts in concealing loot or the identity of looters. They are being reckless!
Consider the enormity of today’s scandal: 50% or one-half of the senate may well have committed plunder, while 180 congressmen (more than 60% of the House of Representatives) may have betrayed the public trust! In all, 192 members of our lawmaking body are now tainted by dishonesty!
The question now arises: who elected these 12 senators and 180 congressmen? And how many of them won by using their allocations to buy political favors including vote-buying?
Be a plunderer, coup plotter, traitor?
How do we now disabuse the minds of the youth that a senator or congressman can be a plunderer or traitor? This may have been going on for years—meaning they’ve been getting away with it for so long! So the corruption is much more serious and deeper than anyone can say! This is a question of national pride and integrity
Let’s hope PNoy uses the Rule of Law as a rod to discipline such malefactors! (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Manny Valdehuesa writes from Cagayan de Oro and is the president and national convenor of Gising Barangay Movement Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com.)