A plea for pork barrel abolition


Regarding the pork barrel scandal, the Department of Justice assures us that charges will be filed after the appropriate investigation. Good. Media has come up with all sorts of information regarding this scam. Good. The Legislature will take cognizance of the facts of the on-going NBI investigation into the matter. Good. The principal suspect is about to have bank accounts frozen, has a hold departure order, etc. Good.

The best-case scenario from the above is a full-blown investigation, the naming of names, the filing of charges, a fair and speedy trial and some kind of restoration of the stolen mony. It sounds simple but in these times even under this dispensation, it is a tall order. We are dealing with institutionalized corruption not individual malfeasance, horrible as the latter may be.

If this scandal is solved to the satisfaction of the aggrieved, which is the Filipino public, it would be a major event in our national existence. But so far we have hardly taken the first steps. We do not know where the journey will take us or whether the guilty will be given their just desert. We are fighting here an established structure, a political reality of the guilty getting away unless they are accomplices, surrogates, small fry caught in the maelstrom of the event. These latter are the ones who get punished but the masterminds, those who either drew up the scheme relying on the tenuous democratic governance we are still afflicted with, will not. The principals may not have invented the mechanism or the political world that allows what happened to happen. They may have just inherited it for their convenience and will keep it also for their convenience. It is political reality, the established political structure in this country.

So no matter how it ends, the pork barrel will not end from the signs of resistance to its abolition all around, particularly from legislators and the scam benefaciaries. The well-meaning among legislators think that it could really help their constituents. They promise and claim that they will honestly disburse the funds and honestly have them implemented as envisioned. Even with that kind of honesty and goodwill, it is a doubtful stand given the kickback practice that is built-in to the pork barrel. If they don’t get it, someone else will, to their surprise and to our shock when it all sees the light of day. But let’s grant that, even if we admit it is farfetched, to expect ideal means and ends. It will only be a meaningless and ineffective part of the story. The real and complete story we already know how it will play out. Large amounts of taxpayers’ money delivered on silver platters to each legislator for disposal as he sees fit. So much that the sums become meaningless as value and therfore prone to waste, pilferage, personal takeover. The rationalization is easy to make, there is so much, some won’t be missed.

What I am getting at is that the pork barrel in our current democratic dispensation, weak and corrupt, wasteful and inefficient as it is at present cannot be but an occasion of sin from the powerful temptation that its existence engenders. Therefore it should be removed as an institution of politics in this country. No rules, no vigilance, no goodwill wil be enough to make it the ideal that its defenders claim it can be. There is just too much money given to one legislator to dispose of. Like bees to honey, those in need, those who are crooks, those who want quick money, those who have no scruples, those who are opportunists will be the principal beneficiaries when the legislator with money is led astray by them. The case at hand from the current facts proves it in spades.

So, we come to the morality of the institution. Since it fosters evil, wrongdoing, dishonesty and much that makes for inequality, unfairness and injustice, it should be excised like the offending eye or hand that the Bible exhorts be cut off to preserve the whole body from corruption and sin.

The pork barrel has proven its corruption in our democratic body. Institutional, fundamental, real reform demands that it be abolished and its funds be given to a better way of distribution. As it is we are creating kingpins in our midst by handing them the funds, the power and the means to be unfair, unjust, and unequal. This is not what our society opted for when they fought for freedom and democracy.



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