CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/07 July) — In the beginning, before the big trapos wised up to its many-splendored potential for looting, pork did some good in some places—but not very much.
Just like today, the constituents weren’t consulted, let alone invited to participate in defining their own community’s priorities, identifying projects, or even in evaluating them. And just as today, all they were invited to were to “ground-breaking” rites and, of course, during the inaugural picture taking—mainly to serve as background to the grandstanding trapo sponsor.
Thus, without the community’s inputs, the roads built were substandard and the services funded were so-so. But they were always politically loaded; for they were redeemable with votes at election time.
Other projects were make-work activities that trapos dreamed up to keep their sycophants busy and content. Or they constructed makeshift structures like sheds—painted with their names, of course–that did little or nothing that was useful except impress voters.
Bottom-line, no pork projects really ever helped expand productivity, certainly not the Gross Barangay Product (GBP)—which is the micro component of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Before pork started to balloon—it was no more than a million or two or three in President Cory’s time—the trapos were always inventing schemes and bogus programs designed to suck out the budgets of line agencies while shoveling kickbacks and commissions into their pockets and bank accounts.
Those schemes enabled them to farm out public works and service contracts for projects in their districts—enabling them to skim off amounts big and small as kickbacks as well as win the patronage and support of suppliers, financiers, and high-rollers in search of connections and political patrons.
Then when it was time to campaign for re-election, the same high-rollers, otherwise known as crony-capitalists, financed their campaigns to ensure they would remain in office and maintain the lucrative connection and patronage system.
It was those cronies that made it possible for the incumbent trapos to secure and maintain their control of political power or politics on various levels. They became millionaires many times over, and it was no secret how they became fabulously rich.
It was no secret either how the high-rollers came to be political cronies, financing campaigns, helping expand ruling dynasties, and generally enabling scammers to enjoy the good life while everyone croaked and groaned and agonized.
Now that there is a great outcry to rid the system of pork—the horn of plenty for the trapos but a dirty well of contamination for society—its advocates are muted, content to have the accused plunderers and their lawyers try to hold back the tide of retribution and reform. After all, they retain the very best lawyers that money can buy.
But just as everyone thought the big fish were finally going to get caught in the net of justice, in comes much bigger fish—a gargantuan specie called Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP—which so far has cost the taxpayers P142 Billion!
To think that all this time everyone was aghast at the mere P10 Billion or so that figured in the shenanigans of Janet, Tanda, Sexy, Pogi, and the rest!
Furthermore, it turns out that no less than Malacañang and the budget and management secretary were the culprits in the DAP scam.
Fortunately for all of us, the Supreme Court has ruled the DAP unconstitutional, as it did also the pork or PDAF (priority development assistance fund).
As to whether we the citizens will ever see any amount recovered from any of this grand thievery from our treasury, abangan!
As to whether PNoy will still insist on his slogan or mantra of Matuwid na Daan in light of these events, let’s await his State of the Nation Address!
The object lesson for all Filipinos in all this? Corruption has so permeated our social order and its administrators, high and low, that there’s no telling what will come up next!
Kaya, magmahinahon lang… at idasal ang ating bayan!
Oh yes, be sure to throw out the rascals in Congress at first opportunity! There’s no better place to start than right in your own backyard.
And do check out your favorite congressman and pray that, having made up your mind, your conviction will not waiver and your judgment will not succumb to temptation!
Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, South East Asian Publishers Association; director, development academy of Philippines; member, Permanent Mission to the United Nations; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace Panel, and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. [email protected]