There are really no cogent and indefensible reasons to continue with the Pork Barrel or whatever name it is disguised as. The institution diminishes our democracy by making some not only more equal than others (individuals defining what projects and how much to spend on them on the basis of controlling funding) but it also puts them in another class, not the one of ordinary citizens be they legislators, as we are supposedly under the democractic concept of the servant leader, but of an elite that keeps itself in public office through generations via the money that has come into their control. Thus they can win elections, become milionaires, live a far superior and influential life from their constituents. Is that why they were elected, to be an oligarchy?
How come legislators are qualified to choose the projects to be funded by taxpayers’ money? Ideally, the country should have a master plan of priority projecs covering the whole country based on studies about where they are needed and when they should be embarked on. It takes planners who are economists, engineers, statisticians, managers, technocrats, visonaries to come up with thorough and complete plans in a rational time frame. Government funding should be provided based on this master plan and its priorities. Put those funds in the General Budget and have the Executive implement the identification of the projects as well as the financing from their initiation and completion. In cases where thorough studies and discussions are made by the accredited personnel, there is more chance for success, more rational choices, and a national benefit rather than a parochial one.
Think of how our legislators spend their pork barrel (leave the bous ngo’s and the clever manipulators out for the time being) and note their small-minded if cheap projects repeated ad nauseam—bus stops that fall apart in short time spans, covered basketball courts in inappropriate places like public plazas, sponsoring basketball uniforms, fiestas, select scholarships for those they know or owe favors too, short term medical missions, Christmas gifts. None of these are nation-building, multiplier effect projects that will enhance the life of the whole community not just some clever ones who are familiar to the legislators as to be able to ask and receive these handouts.
As for the road projects of which we see enough credit-grabbing they are not permanent and sturdy enough to stand the test of wear and tear due to the shennanigans of kickbacks and therefore cost-cutting on the contractors’ part to make their profit despite the kickback. Road-building should be left to the Department of Highways and Public Works.
Yes, corruption is what the Pork Barrel has established and is proliferating—the kickback to the legislators from whatever project they are supposedly funding. Thus, we have more and more gargantuan pork barrel funds and not much to show for them in the pathetic projects that they supposedly were responsible for. The real money has gone to mansions, foreign residences, private businesses, luxury travel, spoiled children who will never work for generations (unless they inherit political posts of their relatives, and that is not work).
None of the above is a rational way to spend taxpayers’ money. None of the above is a democratic way of nation-building. In fact, it is not nation-building at all but paying off supporters, buying off opponents who cannot match their resources to run against them, favoring the supportive minority and ignoring the rest of the electorate.
No matter what new controls or innovative ways or even stricter rules will be conjured, they cannot justify the fact of putting large amounts of taxpayers’ money at the discretion of legislators (who must legislate, not implement or execute) and their coterie of supporters, suppliants and accomplices.
And here we come to that new but very rich class of citizens—the Janet Napoles types, the bogus ngo’s, the hypocritical clergy that accepts their money with no questions asked, the crazy and obscene conspicuous consumption practices in the midst of underprivilege and underdevelopment that fosters an underclass with little opportunity or hope because it has been given to a few venal elements among us to the exclusion of everyone else. Whatever one rationalizes, in this pork barrel baked pie, there is little if nothing for the general public, and more than enough to the point of satiety and obscenity for those who have taken what should be for all for themselves alone.
Please let us think out of the box on this pork barrel issue and see how to make it more democratic, more effective as a tool for nation-building, remembering it is taxpayers’ money to be used for the many and not the unfairly chosen few.