SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Diet sans pork

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MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/05 Oct.) – Getting rid of the national budget of the pork barrel is not only good for the public funds. It can also restore some health to politics as a whole.

Here’s why. There are two main reasons why politicians are eager to land in the House of the Representatives or in the Senate – to protect and enhance vested interests like family business, and to earn kickbacks from the pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). In addition, holding high office means getting perks and rewards from an assortment of sources, some of whom are engaged in illegal activities like smuggling.

But since getting hold of the pork carries a semblance of legitimacy it can be presumed that this is the biggest incentive for lawmakers. Imagine earning 7-, 8- or even 9-digit “commissions” delivered right at your doorstep with just a stroke of the pen and some phone calls to the right people.

Expectedly, pork-addicted lawmakers would say they need the PDAF for projects which are not funded under the development plans of local government units but which are supposedly needed by the people.

This argument however only shows the flaws in the planning system of the local governments. It suggests the absence of grassroots participation and the token presence of civil society groups in local development councils. As an NGO official who used to sit in the provincial development council of Bukidnon said, “Pang-quorum ra man mi diha kada meeting. Readymade na man ang mga plano, igo na lang mi motando” (Our only role is for the council to have a quorum during meetings. The plans are readymade, we just approve them).

Back to the PDAF, erase it – or whatever name it has assumed by now — from the equation, and I’d swear on my ancestors’ graves that no lawmakers of the kind we currently have would seek election or reelection. (A good way to lessen political dynasty, isn’t it?)

Comedians, actors, actresses and a boxer who have invaded Congress will go back to their original trade. What a way to cleanse the legislature of incompetents – and unremorseful plagiarists too.

Nonagenarians who have been with us since the unlamented Martial Law era will lose any incentive to remain in office. They may find it more rewarding to remain at home and play “Bejeweled” or to visit their stem cell therapists every now and then.

After all, it really is an anomaly to let lawmakers handle huge amounts for “development projects” when their job is to make laws. Worse, this added function has become a smokescreen for their incompetence as legislators in the eyes of their constituents. The people in the districts would no longer mind how their representatives are performing as long as they deliver the dough for infrastructure and even for items like coffins and wedding expenses.

In other words, the pork has made many people misunderstand the real job of a lawmaker. That’s one good reason to impose a diet without pork on both Houses of Congress. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected])

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