CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 6 Sept) – Why do you think they give a lawmaker’s pork barrel allocation an innocent-sounding label like “Priority Development Assistance Fund” or PDAF? It’s to disguise its real purpose, which is to provide a senator or congressman an opportunity to do either one of two things: 1) fool the people with fake assistance or 2) collect part of the amount for his personal use.
Or do both If they can get away with it.
In other words, there is a dishonest motive behind it. How else can it be motivated if the purpose is to divert public funds for personal gain?
This so-called assistance for local development enables the corrupt and the unscrupulous to keep getting elected or re-elected to Congress.
For a first-time candidate, the prospect of receiving pork (P200 million yearly for a senator or P70 million yearly for a congressman) is a powerful incentive to incur debt to finance his campaign. Some will even go so far as hock the family’s wealth in hopes of winning and earning big money.
They know there’s plenty of money from pork and other sources to draw from once in office. Traditional politicians or trapos (habitués of cockpits, casinos, and other gambling holes) know this especially, as well as the tricks needed to access same without a paper trail.
Once in office, to no one’s surprise, these Pork-dependent lawmakers aren’t really interested in legislation—which is their primary duty. The huge amounts that fall on their laps prove too distracting, making them focus on how to spend it in the name of development—not just spend it the ordinary way but imaginatively, so it camouflages their true motive.
The true motive of course is, as everyone knows, to build a positive public image or reputation, to advance their political careers, to boost their chances of re-election, to increase their personal wealth and expand their campaign chests while also expanding their political dynasties.
In other words, pork or PDAF showers public funds on personal agendas. Its abundance and casual handling enables any so-called lawmaker to do unlawful acts under official cover with impunity—meaning, without fear of punishment.
Thus, it makes them dishonest without feeling any sense of guilt. They divert public funds to private accounts as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do. It’s official and budgeted for by both Malacañang and Congress!
Pork also makes them vain, savoring with relish the power to expend the people’s monies to satisfy personal whims. Confident in the belief that no one would dare question them, they indulge in it as part of the perks of power and privilege.
The insidious thing about impunity is, they become reckless. They build infrastructure poorly, cut corners or sacrifice quality in order to maximize profits or kickbacks. They pour money on poor services such as makeshift feeding and medical programs that are here today-gone tomorrow.
In such dishonest ways are constituencies fooled or bribed with token assistance. Unfortunately for us all, the trick seems to work all the time, which is why the trapos and their political dynasties win elections every time!
(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.)