CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/10 September) — Some people, mostly trapos or traditional politicians, still believe in the Pork Barrel system as an instrument of governance.
They’re so enamored of it that you can be sure they’ll find imaginative ways of retaining it in some form or other, even if it’s only to rename it or change its spelling.
They actually think there’s nothing wrong with carting away huge barrels of cash from the national treasury for their own use.
But, as we’ve said before: just the fact that they camouflage pork by calling it “Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)” reveals its true nature: being a gratuitous grant of cash or in-kind assistance (goods and services) to members of Congress—and other favored persons like VP Jojo Binay who is neither a senator nor a congressman with a local constituency.
With Senator Nancy Binay’s pork, combined with his daughter Abigail’s in congress and his mayor-son’s Internal Revenue Allotment in Makati, the family’s annual pork assets amount to more than a billion pesos! That’s not just a barrel; that’s an oil tanker!
And if that’s not an occasion of sin or an invitation to something fishy, tell me what is…
Pork is a source of easy cash. It doesn’t matter if it’s used for development or for services to the community, because in either case: (1) it is susceptible to manipulation by the congressman or senator or vice president, (2) its huge amount is a powerful temptation, an invitation, to misuse or abuse for personal gain, and (3) its cavalier handling or lack of answerability and accountability makes it so easy to conceal or launder locally or abroad.
Never in the history of our republic has it been possible to commit plunder so handily and with impunity as now. And never have so many so-called lawmakers been implicated in crimes of dishonesty, opportunism, and greed as now.
And that’s why the investigations into the pork barrel mess must be pursued, and with haste, so we can connect the dots between its loose allocation and handling and the systemic rise in corruption and greed in our society and bureaucracy.
Such fabulously wealthy congressmen and senators, and vice president, we have!
Would a life-style check bear out their claims of clean-living and protestations of honest striving?
Unfortunately, and this is really sad, it’s not enough to take their word for it. Their word has long been depreciated, their record in chambers denigrated, their output dismally short of expectations. An uninspiring lot!
Can anyone blame us for asking how it is possible for a mediocre senator’s net worth to grow by leaps and bounds after a just few short years in office—in contrast to his immediate past financial performance? Or how is it that another mediocre senator’s wife would smuggle over $150,000 unexplained dollars into the U.S. and be convicted three years for doing so?
Sad to say, very sad to say: the well of democracy has been defiled, violated, poisoned! And nothing short of total cleansing will remove the stench and restore our nation’s sense of self-respect.
Meanwhile, better not let your guard down because the search still goes on even now for a new label for pork!
Pnoy himself and budget secretary Butch Abad seem bent on clinging to this gravy train… which is kind of intriguing, because all the cash registers and piggy banks of the bureaucracy are already under their control.
They operate the entire patronage system, which is another way of looking at government, so what for do they need separate additional, discretionary allowances to dispense? (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.)