• Absence of pork means abstinence

    Ej Lopez

    Ej Lopez

    The recent Supreme Court declaration of the unconstitutionality of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, has put to rest the question of the legislature’s authority to have the fund under their control. Whereas, prior to its scandalous deposition, everyone in the legislative and the executive branches of government were justifying its existence and utilization, but later on after the “deafening” public outcry of the “suspected misuse” of PDAaF, everyone was singing a different tune, short of saying that they are now shouting to the high heavens of the ill effects of PDAF; a complete reversal of their previous position (that is how politics work in this country).

    But beyond the declaration of PDAF’s unconstitutionality comes a more pressing problem that the political leadership will have to contend with. The President with the High Court ruling has lost its grip and control on budgetary allotment associated with PDAF. Bureaucratic interferences which previously were not a factor in facilitating emergency expediencies will now have to find a way to address the immediate need associated with presidential pork. In fact, other presidential prerogatives involving expenses will now have to pass through closer scrutiny prior to its disbursement.

    The destruction caused by natural disasters, primarily typhoons that are essentially inherent in the tropical region like the Philippines, could be aggravated by such ruling unless an alternative measure of budgetary allotment could be sourced out because of such prohibitions, lest fatalities soar to significant proportions.

    Although the court ruling on the abolition of the pork barrel is the best safeguard to protect the people’s interests from unscrupulous politicians, a far more reaching implication may involve hindered local economic development and the delivery of basic goods and services essentially needed by the people. Whereas before, we fully trust our elected leaders in the dispensation of their pork barrel, our immediate falling out could have been a result of misdemeanors’ caused by some politicians misspending and as such, scenario of government intervention to fuel economic development has now been affected by the ban on pork.

    While the High Court’s ruling may be deemed classified as a people’s victory in its quest against corruption, the negative implications of such verdict could be more if not equal to the possibility of operational breakdown, once a calamity strikes the country again. Though we always pray and wish that catastrophes may not happen, almost always we see this as incessant part of our geographic position.

    It is therefore incumbent upon the political leaderships of both houses to map out a strategy or program that will mitigate the impact of such kind of “nature’s fury.” But over and above this political “setback” comes the possibility of the economy becoming unstable, because of the President losing grip of some financial controls that previously were under the Chief Executive’s disposition. The current situation will test the mettle of our political governance, considering that the country is in the midst of major reconstruction and rehabilitation and yet, we will now confronted by numerous governmental bureaucratic processes prior to responding to the needs and the needy, brought about by the ruling.

    Economic aftermath
    The recent “double whammy” (earthquake and typhoon) that hit the Visayan region has again put doubts on the achievement of the growth forecast the authorities has predicted. Prior to the events, the possibility of a 7-percent growth rate in the gross domestic product (GDP) was just lurking around the corner. Twice we did experience this year a credit grade upgrading from reputable credit raters. Everyone was bullish that would-be investors have shown interest and would like to take advantage of investment opportunities in the country. Coupled with the goodwill established by the President in several of his state visits, comes the investment interests expressed by foreign investors who would like to take a second look on what is in store in our country.

    But with the recent “armageddon” the country has gone through in the Eastern Visayan region that left millions of people practically empty; their properties swept away together with their loved ones, their region totally economically bankrupt; are we still confident of the growth forecast? The possibility of Typhoon Yolanda’s destruction could go as high P100 billion is always there; and this is close to 5 percent of our GDP. Not to mention the sustainable financial support that the government should do until such time when a semblance of normalcy is brought back to the region. Over and above the effect is the province-wide unemployment that was created by the disaster. But this can hopefully be addressed immediately by the government through their “cash for work program.” But still, sustainability is the problem that we have to contend with.

    Hopefully, this could be offset by the growth incidences that are realized by other regions in the country. Also, we are pinning our hopes on the continued support by allied nations and investors who have continued to display their confidences’ and trusts’ in our economy and business environment.

    For comments email: doc.ejlopez@gmail.com with cc to: opinion@manilatimes.net.


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    1. I cannot make head and tail of this article, but one thing is sure. The absence of pork means end of the road for this admin who can move things without giving away bribes.

    2. In as much as some people think that now the legislators has no more PDAF as their milking cow following the action of the SC, but in short term the poor people will suffer more in the absence of the Pork. My concern is, where will the president get an instant revenue to help the poor people in the aftermath of natural disasters like Yolanda, floods and earthquake?. Everybody knows that the country is prone to have these natural events several times a year. I hope that there will be a legal alternative venue for the president to secure funds when needed in an emergency, like events mentioned above. It is therefore imperative that the FOI bill becomes a law of the land to force the government to be more transparent. Some legislators might be opposed to passing this bill for obvious reason. We will see what happens in the days to come, because the President is already pushing for it.

    3. Let the Politicians lay the foundation and the law but get the Technocrats do the job.An example would be the financing of the formation of an big Army Corp of Engineers where the Philippine Army can do the rehab and infrastructure projects in local areas without the political patronage of local contractors who are well known to give payolas mostly under the table .A Caution would be a transparent , strict audit and open public bidding for suppliers which in the past were manipulated by top military officials.All activities of Congress and the Executive Branches should be open to public scrutiny that is why we need the Freedom of Information Bill Passed except for classified information related to National Security. A new paradigm of Governance void of the political patronage and sleek manipulation of public funds by corrupt officials should immediately be established . New laws and procedural rules
      need to be promulgated to comply with the SC decision. At last I can see a new dawn of hope is coming to the Philippines