SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Investigations as distractions

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 30 October) – It should be clear by now that the Senate investigation into the accusations against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family members are not really “in aid of legislation”. Yes, it’s good that alleged wrongdoings by high officials are brought out and subjected to scrutiny so that the people may get an idea of the character of their leaders. Something has gone wrong however as the investigation progressed and held the public in a trance.

No, it’s not that a contender for the 2016 elections is obviously staging the Senate show in the hope of demolishing Binay and boosting his own stock. That hasn’t happened though, and so the show must go on and on and on until they find something that will deal the vice president a crushing blow.

What has happened instead is that the public has lost sight of the bigger picture. All eyes are now fixed on Binay, no one is minding anymore the other issues surrounding the use of public funds. Like horses with blinders on the both sides of their heads, the people are only seeing part of President Aquino’s bumpy “daang matuwid”. Unfortunately, no one notices the bumps.

Thanks to the blinders – aided in large part by partisan media – nobody seems to mind that PNoy’s journey to good governance has taken tricky detours. For while our eyes were fixed on blabbermouths named Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes – who are as eager as Binay for the presidency – the President’s allies in Congress effectively rendered useless the Supreme Court decision that declared the pork barrel system unconstitutional. It was a move that strengthened what others would call Aquino’s fiscal dictatorship.

Here are the lump sum figures in the 2015 national budget over which the Executive has complete control: P378.6 million in Special Purpose Funds, P123 billion in Unprogrammed Funds, P118 billion in Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund, and P20.9 billion in Grassroots Participatory Budgeting to be channeled to the Department of Interior and Local Government of Secretary Mar Roxas, who is aching to get back at Binay come 2016. Worse, Congress has changed the definition of “savings” to allow Aquino to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

Aquino conveniently forgets that pork barrel – whether lodged in Congress or in the Executive – remains the biggest source of corruption. Furthermore, it reinforces the shady tradition of patronage politics, and weakens the system of checks and balance among the branches of government. Congress will always kowtow to PNoy’s wishes because he has usurped its power of the purse. But that’s no big deal for pork-hungry lawmakers who depend on it for their political survival.

Surely, the amount that will be lost to kickbacks and commissions from the president’s pork barrel will be many times greater than the reported overprice of a government building in Makati. So, where are our anti-graft advocates?

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at