Beyond Napoles scam: Real issue on pork barrel

August 30, 2013 10:46 pm
Rick Ramos

Rick Ramos

The newspapers yesterday and the day before were full of stories on the surrender of Janet Lim-Napoles, who is accused of embezzling some P10 billion in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), after two weeks in hiding as a fugitive. Mrs. Napoles surrendered to President Benigno S. Aguino 3rd late Wednesday evening in Malacañang Palace for fear of her life, saying she trusted only the President.

From Malacañan, President Aquino led the convoy to Camp Crame, headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Quezon City, where Mrs. Napoles was turned over to DILG Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas and PNP Director-General Alan Purisima. The alleged brains behind the multi-billion pork barrel scam was detained at Camp Crame, where she and her husband, former Marine Major Jimmy Lim, stayed overnight. On Thursday late evening, Mrs. Napoles was transferred to the Makati City Jail, also with her husband accompanying her.

Last Thursday, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee started its probe on the P10 Billion PDAF anomaly that involved several senators and a hundred congressmen. Grace Pulido-Tan, chair of the Commission on Audit (CoA), testified before the Senate as a resource person to share the findings of the CoA Special Audit Report that confirmed the testimonies of the whistle-blowers: public funds allotted to members of Congress for their projects ended up with dubious beneficiaries, such as fake NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) andNGOs established by congressmen for the sole purpose of benefiting themselves.

The explosive revelation on the scale of the people’s money being lost to shameless politicians made me realize something last Monday when my family and I attended the Million People March at the Luneta (Rizal Park). Why should it take whistle-blowers to expose the multi-billion scam? After three years in office, whatever happened to the anti-corruption crusade of President B.S. Aquino 3rd? Is it true that the PDAF has even actually increased and “institutionalized” under PNoy’s watch?

Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad of the Department of Budget & Management (DBM) was quoted in the newspaper last Monday, August 26, as saying that P25 billion in pork barrel (PDF) will remain in the 2014 proposed National Budget. A week ago, Pnoy announced, with Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., behind him, that he was abolishing pork barrel. What was that announcement all about?

On our way to the protest rally in Rizal Park, we heard Secretary Ricky Carandang spoke in a radio interview on dzMM. The broadcast journalist asked the Malacañan Cabinet official if the announcement of President Aquino on the PDAF abolition would mean the removal or scrapping of the P70 million and P200 million allotment for the projects of congressmen and senators. Secretary Carandang could not categorically answer in the affirmative and deftly equivocated saying that the Office of the President in Malacañang will find another or better way of using the said funds.
There is the said realization about the presidency of PNoy on what happened with the pork barrel exposé and its purported abolition:the flagrant lack of sincerity and the proclivity to mislead the Filipino people on the part of President Aquino and his official family.

As other columnists have already pointed out, the Chief Executive could have made the dramatic announcement on the abolition of PDAF in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) before the members of Congress in late July or a month ago. But PNoy did not do it perhaps thinking that the issue will just die down as what happened with the alleged $30 million extortion attempt on the MRT III contract.

However, with the snowballing campaign in the social media for its abolition and the Million Protest Rally at the Luneta slated for 26 August, Araw ng Kagitingan, President Aquino had no choice but to announce the abolition of the pork barrel on 23 August,three days before the protest action. Thus, it is the Height of Hypocrisy for him to declare on the day of demonstration that “we’re on the same side.” The spokesperson of President Aquino also had the brazen temerity to say, “we’re all against corruption.”

Veteran journalist Neal Cruz has been writing over the past years in his column in The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) what myriad of Filipinos do not know as the real reason behind the existence of the pork barrel that has already changed name twice to its present “PDAF.” To put it succinctly; the pork barrel is the direct bribe of the President of the Philippines to the members of Congress to pass the Government Appropriations Act (GAA).

Hardly anyone has noticed how swiftly the national budgets have been approved by Congress in the past three years (2011-2013) under the Aquino administration. This is all because of the bribe given by the Office of the President to the senators and congressmen through the pork barrel system. For 2014, there is already P25.2 Billion for PDAF in the proposed budget that will ensure its easy passage. It is called Daan na Matuwid!

Rick B. Ramos atrbrpilipinas@gmail.com

4 Responses to Beyond Napoles scam: Real issue on pork barrel

  1. Albert J. Lesaca says:

    People,

    Everyone knows that it is wrong to pray that evil befall the evil-doer. So here’s my prayer:

    Lord, sana yung mga masasamang loob, yung mga mandurugas at kawatan na walang kasawa-sawang nakasawsaw sa kaban ng bayan ay mag-bago bago sila mamatay.

    At Lord, sana magbago na sila ora-mismo. Amen.

    I, Abay

  2. Gumer S. Paz says:

    Hi Sir Rick!

    I agree with you that it is the Height of Hypocrisy for him to declare the abolition of PDAF. With his new scheme of letting the legislators identify project for their districts, that is the same banana. It is the same patronage politics in action. Why? The congressman will only give projects to his/her loyal or ka-partido mayors and none to opposition. The bidding will still be rig in favor of kasangga contractors who will give, as some alleged, 25% of project cost in exchange for the project approval.

    If Pnoy is really sincere, there are Regional Development Councils throughout the country. We have NEDA, we have statistics office who have all the data. Based on the program of his government, Pnoy could solicit from everybody to submit project proposal in line with thrust of the government, ask the appropriate government offices to prepare detailed study and subject it to revalida and when it pass, provide funding for its immediate implementation.

    I believe if PDAF was only properly used, there is no heavy damages on infrastructure during calamities because they were built according to plans and specifications. I don’t believe DPWH do not know the strength of materials when they make plans. There would have been all-weather farm to market roads through the country not like the concrete road built in some barangay roads in Matalom, Leyte that only after a few months the few cement used were escaping and the gravel were emerging. but that was reported as accomplished project.

    These negative scenarios are common place everywhere because of the connivance of some unscrupulous COA auditors who only made “commission ona audit” or commission first before audit. If you could visit Matalom, Leyte and see for yourself the concrete road before but now no more, that would be a good line for Daan na Matuwid.

    There were many road repairs usually contacted during election period. Even the still good concrete road portion were being demolished and replaced. I believed this fund could have been better used to pave farm to market roads which are not passable during rainy season. This is one of the monumental example of PDAF extravagance or simply milking out funds for the election. We are always “niluto sa sariling mantika” so to speak, because the congressman will siphon his PDAF thru various scheme and the funds generated are sued to buy votes during election and may profit pa siya, much, much more than the whole amount he used to buy votes every election.

    I think the best thing to do is to realign PDAF to the budget of line agencies, say for insfrastructure identified per region or district to DPWH, for social services to DSWD, for education to DEPED , for health services to DOH and other departments.

    Example, if the thrust of the government is rice production, then the project proposal will focus on this. So it will be construction of irrigation system, purchase of mechanized farm implements and machinery, training for new technology, provision of fertilizers and pesticides, construction of warehouses, lending program to bona fide farmers and many more. In this case we have specific purpose. Unlike before, the congressman at will, will build covered court and basketball court in every town or barangay instead of providing good farm to market road, provide farm machineries to increase production and to provide farm inputs and training. Thank you for now.

  3. con santos says:

    nakakagalit talaga. Dapat mag revolutionary government na siguro dahil talamak na ang corruption from top to bottom?

  4. Inocent says:

    Well scripted, well produced and very well directed just like a Hollywood movie for one sole reason – to divert peoples attention to all scandals and scams going on in the administration. BS Aquino is only what, 3 1/2 years in his position, but he is now way ahead of Arroyo’s first term in the number of scandals and scams in their administrations. Worse part if in this Pork scandal is PNoy has much more Pork compared to Arroyo’s. No wonder our crocodile legislators and key government officials are much more loyal, even fanatic to this incompetent President. All for greed of Pork.

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