• Blackmail in US shutdown, PH pork barrel allocation

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    Why should we care about the US Government shutdown? It will have an effect on us, that’s why.

    Of course, the whole world will suffer if the standoff between the Republican-dominated House of Representatives and the Obama administration goes unresolved for two more weeks. The US Government won’t be able to pay its obligations, and that will have negative consequences on world economy. It could usher in another recession.

    The Philippines, however, will feel the fallout before other countries do.

    Already, President Barack Obama has postponed his trip to the APEC Summit 2013 in Bali, Indonesia, from where he is supposed to proceed to the Philippines. However, we should not read too much into this development. He has decided to put the visit in abeyance simply because it is in bad form for him to leave the country with his government in crisis.

    The alliance with the Philippines and the US remains strong as ever, notwithstanding the hysteria fanned by the country’s Leftist elements. The ongoing talk between the two countries on the expansion of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is proceeding apace.

    The GOP-controlled House of Representatives will not put the budget to a vote unless the Obama administration agrees to scrap or at least delay the implementation of the universal health care, known as Obamacare. The system, the Republican Party says, will require more borrowings and additional taxes levied on the American people.

    To Mr. Obama, the refusal of Republican congressmen to pass the national budget is plain and simple blackmail. He said he wouldn’t negotiate to end the budget standoff “with a gun held to the head of the American people.”

    It occurs to us that the blackmail, if it is indeed one, is nothing compared to what has been happening in the Philippine Congress.

    American congressmen can resort to this kind of blackmail only very rarely, when they have the numbers, as they do now. Our own congressmen—and our senators for that matter—do it every year, when the national budget comes up for deliberation. And political affiliations do not come into play. They find commonality of interest in the amount they are going to get under the so-called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

    Since PDAF has been institutionalized a long time ago, its inclusion in the budget is a foregone conclusion. Still, blackmail is at work here, although it is not called that. The unspoken threat is that the budget will not pass, at least the way the Executive Department wants it, if PDAF is not included and in the amount the legislators prescribe.

    The shutdown is blamed on the Tea Party activists. The Democrats and even mainstream Republicans call them the lunatic fringe, but these rednecks at least act on principle.

    Our congressmen and senators do not bother with such niceties. These people inflate the budget year after year only to embezzle a sizeable portion of it.

    It may sound too harsh an accusation, but the unraveling of the PDAF and Malampaya Fund scams have shown them to be thieves of the worst kind—thieves who steal from the poor and calamity victims.

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