The government is disintegrating. And I am not referring in particular to the administration of President BS Aquino 3rd. I am referring to our system of government, our so-called democratic system of government.
Our system of government is anything but democratic. The poor and the middle class do not have access to it. Only the Philippines’ 80 elite families have access to it. They have had a monopoly of political power— and its economic dividends—in the last 80 years.
This monopoly by the 80 elite political families has been incompetent, abusive, corrupt and disastrous. At the turn of the 19th century, the Philippines was
Asia’s first republic and the most modern. Such cities as Manila, Cebu and Iloilo were the hubs of a global trading system.
After World War II despite Manila being more devastated than Poland (thanks to the Americans), the Philippines was still the most prosperous country in Asia. That economic preeminence lasted until the mid-1960s.
After that, the larceny and plunder unheard of in the history of this country took place. On a grand scale. The result: People are losing faith in their government.
Poverty, along with crime and grime, stalks the land. By next year, if the current pork barrel scandal finally explodes, nobody would be willing to pay taxes. Everybody will challenge the Bureau of Internal Revenue why it is running after them while the much bigger crooks and tax evaders in Congress and in Malacanang are laughing all the way to their banks.
In 2007 to 2009 alone, according to the Commission on Audit, P115.987 billion worth of pork barrel money was released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). Of that P6.8 billion went to 23 senators, P38.77 billion went to 334 congressmen, and P70.39 billion went to unnamed solons.
Using the Janet Napoles formula of 70 percent for the solons, 30 percent for herself, and zero for the project, in her elaborate money laundering operation, P81.19 billion was stolen by the senators and the congressmen in three years or an average plunder of P27 billion a year.
Add to that the personal pork of the President which in 2014 amounts to P449.95 billion, the so-called Special Purpose Funds of the Executive—P310.047 billion in programmed funds and P139.903 million in unprogrammed funds.
No wonder President Aquino does not need to steal money. He already has P450 billion of discretionary funds, money he can spend anyway he wants, without anybody, including the Commission on Audit, complaining. By this time, much of the political capital and credibility that made Aquino immensely popular in the first three years of his presidency are gone. Thanks to the pork barrel scandal which he has mishandled.
You thought Ferdinand Marcos was the biggest thief? No. Jovito Salonga estimated Marcos’s loot at $10 billion but offered no convincing evidence proof.
Salonga was the first chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG). His job was to find and recover the so-called $10-billion ill-gotten wealth. But he lost the briefcase containing the damning documents in March 1986 inside a Korean restaurant in New York. The senator later claimed it was not his briefcase but his deputy Pedro Yap’s that was snatched.
Top defense lawyer Gerry Spence would later win acquittal for Imelda Marcos in New York on Federal racketeering charges. Twenty years later, Imelda was inviting anybody interested to her Ayala Avenue Penthouse and showed him carton boxes of documents indicating the Marcos’s ownership of all—yes, all—major Philippine corporations. The claim was so incredible, nobody believed her.
Today, there are bigger crooks. All Philippine presidents after Marcos were accused of corruption, incompetence or both. During the Marcos presidency, congressmen received only P100,000 a year in pork barrel or congressional allowances, equivalent in today’s pesos, to P5.8 million a year.
In 1990, under President Corazon Aquino, pork barrel was institutionalized and given a fancy name—Community Development Fund. Under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, pork barrel was hugely expanded and given an even fancier name, Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Each congressmen received P70 million while senators got P200 million each in PDAF a year. Those who were closed with the President or danced to his/her music got more.
During 2007 to 2009, the Dirty Dozen senators in PDAF were: 1. Juan Ponce Enrile P904.5 billion, 2. Edgardo Angara P862.645 billion, 3. Ramon Revilla Jr P853 billion, 4. Jinggoy Estrada P825 billion, 5. Miriam Santiago P551.85 million, 6. Lito Lapid P366.7 million, 7. Alan Cayetano P351 million, 8. Greg Honasan P348 million, 9. Migz Zubiri P316.4 million, and 10. Richard Gordon P246.3 million, 11. Pong Biazon P245 million, and 12. Kiko Pangilinan P191 million.
Among the Liberal Party stalwarts in the House, Neptali Gonzales received P395 million in 2007 to 2009.
Of the Senate’s Pork Barrel Twelve, opposition senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy have 2016 presidential or vice presidential ambitions. On the administration side, Alan Cayetano wants to run for either president or vice president. Angara’s son, Sonny Angara was No. 6 in the 2013 senatorial race and is a viable bet for at least LP vice president in 2016.
Manong Johnny, meanwhile, is a survivor and a battle-scarred politician. He ousted Marcos in the first People Power and was linked to seven coup attempts against Corazon Aquino.
Can BS Aquino destroy JPE or for that matter the likes of Bong Revilla or Jinggoy Estrada by filing plunder charges against them?
Aquino cannot run after JPE, Jinggoy and Bong without they bringing the house, meaning the government, down.
Conclusion: Aquino should forget about Janet Napoles. She is just a minor accessory in the scheme of plunder. The one the President should provide full security to is the COA chairman, Grace Pulido Tan. She has the documents and the money trail to prosecute and convict the guilty. That is if Aquino has the political will to do it.