• Congress: An irreparably damaged institution

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    Never has the Philippine Congress,  including before martial law, sunk so low as it has during President Aquino’s administration.

    A group of alleged whistleblowers, a Commission on Audit’s special audit, and the Justice Secretary had claimed that several senators and a number of Representatives had conspired with criminal syndicates, one led by Janet Napoles, to pocket billions of pesos in taxpayers’ money.

    And now even Napoles, obviously  fearing something could go wrong during her surgery, at least according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima,  has spilled the beans, has named names, provided details on how senators and congressmen other than senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon Revilla, Jr. siphoned their pork barrel funds to their own pockets.

    Now Panfilo Lacson, who ended his term as senator only last year, claims he knows what Napoles revealed to De Lima, which is, that 13 senators (a quorum, he facetiously says, which means half of the total senators plus one and nearly a hundred in the House of Representatives also stole from government coffers. Napoles, he hinted, had all the proof, and this is contained in her affidavit, or sworn testimony.

    Have we lost our capacity for outrage?  Congress whose upkeep we pay in the tune of P10 billion yearly, is a den of thieves. We suspected so before, of course, but now there is proof, from somebody who actually gave them the money.

    It has been so weird that Congress leaders, Liberal Party stalwarts Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte have been acting so nonchalantly. The Congress they are supposed to lead is burning, and they don’t seem to realize it.

    Drilon’s office keeps on sending useless press releases, such as its latest one calling for a “sober approach on pork barrel scam.” The other day, it was one in which the Senate President claims government must hire more prosecutors to fight criminality.”  Before that was one in which Drilon congratulates himself for his high trust ratings.

    Belmonte on the other hand appears to have been so busy making sure his family got the right price—about P4 billion—for its shares in the newspaper Philippine Star sold to a firm controlled by Indonesian magnate Anthoni Lim. Now he seems busy on how to convince Congress to back his project to amend the Constitution to lift restrictions on foreign investments in certain industries, which probably would include media.

    One can find many instances in the history of our legislative body and those of other nations in which a legislator, or even several of them, were accused of a crime.

    Wholesale crime

    None though in which our Congress as it is now is accused of wholesale crime.  In our case, the lower house of Congress—nearly 100 of their members —are accused of being part of a conspiracy that has defrauded the government of billions of pesos in the past several years.

    Perhaps Mr. Aquino could grab credit for this campaign to prosecute legislators, by its scale the biggest such move ever in our history.  But it was former Commission on Audit chairman Rey Villar who ordered the audit of the Priority Assistance Development Funds (PDAF) in May 2010, before Aquino assumed power and before he was replaced with Grace Pulido-Tan.

    Tan of course should be praised for implementing Villar’s orders under her term, and expanding it—I hope—to include pork barrel during Aquino’s watch.

    But her distinct contribution to the explosion of the PDAF bomb were, first, her histrionics (i.e., her famous “kahindik-hindik” remark) and, second, her report on three opposition senators, Enrile, Estrada and Revilla.

    It is still a big mystery who was the brains behind the very organized orchestrated moves of the alleged whistleblowers, headed by Benhur Luy, to capture the nation’s attention on the pork barrel scam.

    Was it initially intended by Aquino’s camp as a very controlled explosion, that would smear only the opposition legislators?

    That it went out of control is obvious in that the pork-barrel scam story led first to the reveleation that he used PDAF releases to bribe Senators to vote to remove Chief Justice Renato Corona.  That eventually led to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the PDAF is unconstitutional. While this administration found a way to skirt the Court’s ruling (by putting each legislator’s request in the budget of each department) it certainly dulled the PDAF as a facile means to bribe legislators for its agenda.

    Thirdly, the PDAF bomb led to the expose that he illegally juggled funds (that he called Disbursement Acceleration Fund) to ensure the Senate’s cooperation in his impeachment project.  With a case filed at the Supreme Court to rule the DAP unconstitutional, Aquino unexpectedly finds himself vulnerable to an impeachment charge of technical malversation of government funds.

    And lastly, the PDAF controversy got so out of control that those charged with having stolen PDAF money has included Aquino’s trusted officials and party mates, among them former Bureau of Customs head Ruffy Biazon and TESDA director Joel Villanueva (son of religious sect leader, and staunch Aquino supporter, “Brother” Eddie Villanueva)  were also exposed as having been involved in their own pork-barrel scams.

    Napoles special treatment

    Not in his scariest nightmare did Aquino thought that, after Napoles’ surrender, he would have to talk face-to-face to her—in his official residence Malacañang Palace—and then to join her in the Presidential car that brought her to police headquarters to be jailed.

    This raised suspicions that he had to personally assure Napoles that he would take care of her.   Why would Aquino do this, extend special treatment that included limousine service to an accused criminal, if he weren’t worried that Napoles had something on him?

    Indeed, with her “business” so dependent on political connections, would she have been so naive or stupid as to not contribute hugely to Aquino’s campaign treasury chest in 2010?

    Or this, which would be worse if true, that she knows that Aquino, who was a congressman from 1998 to 2007, also used his PDAF funds in the way his indicted colleagues did.

    Whether Aquino’s operatives were foolishly playing with fire, which now could also engulf their boss’ house, or if they are still is in control of this entire pork-barrel scam controversy, the reality is that Congress’ integrity has been utterly damaged, most likely irreparably.  Even congressman, in shame, now prefer not to use their No. 8 car plates.

    How can we trust these crooks with our money, how can we trust these thieves to make the laws of the land?  It’s the House of Thieves, the country’s biggest criminal syndicate.

    That’s Filipinos’ dominant perception now, not that the PDAF bomb means the start of a determined attack on corruption in our bureaucracy that would eradicate forever such corruption as bribes to policemen, customs and BIR officials, and even sanitary inspectors, and big-time bid-rigging in the DOTC and the DPWH.

    That Congress is essential for a representative democracy has proven to be an utter hogwash.  Have name-recall for any reason, patrons to bankroll your campaign so you’d look after their interests, and a talent for acting to be seen as someone concerned for the poor, and you’d have the best chance of being picked as one of 24 members of the powerful Senate—maybe even as its president—or a representative in your district.

    Our system of government sucks.  If nothing else, this historic pork-barrel bomb should prod us as a nation to change the system.  We won’t go anywhere with such a bunch of crooks and hypocrites leading the nation.

    tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
    www.trigger.ph and www.rigobertoiglao@gmail.com

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    18 Comments

    1. I have been saying all along. Pnoy has to take responsibility being the president, he is the most guilty of all. We have a constitutional crises – no Senate and House.
      Everyone should resign. Everyone is guilty. Everyone who is elected thinks they are entitled to steal money from the people. This is root cause of poverty in the country.
      CORRUPTION from the president down to the barangay captain.This is sad but it is reality. Corruption has been a part of the culture of politics in the country. Not unless
      these politicians admit this truth, the country will never get out of this situation.
      Not RH Law not anything except the change of heart and mindset of politicians will solve the problem. Only a God-fearing politician can govern effectively. One who values human life and dignity.

    2. Sipsip ka Juan de la Cruz! Yong nadetain na COA CHAIRMAN REYNALDO VILLAR ang nagumpisa sa audit ng PDAF ,during the time of Arroyo, tinuloy lang ni Grace
      Pulido Tan. Si noynoy naging pangulo dahil pinagbigyan ni Mar, kagaya yong ginawa ni UNIDO President Doy Laurel, pinagbigyan nya si housekeeper Cory. Anong qualifications yong dalawang pangulo?,? Ka pamilya yong hero kuno na si Ninoy. Bumoto tayo sa 2016 ng
      matalino makaDiyos mayaman na parang hindi
      magnanakaw, wag yong makabayan kuno, at bantayan
      ang mga boto natin. Wag tayong tatanga2 ulit, kung hindi magdasal tayo ng buong puso para walang people power ulit.

      • LMAO…. For cry out loud “MANONG” Basahin mo din ung article Nabaggit nga about “si VILLAR ang naunang nag AUDIT” iwan ko anang iniyakan mo?

    3. Nasaan na ang ating pagmamahal sa ating bansa kung hindi tayo aaksiyon at hahayaan na lang ang mga mandarambong ng pondo ng ating bayan. Maipakikita lang natin ang ating pagmamahal sa bayan sa pamamagitan uli ng pambansang demonstrayon sa kalye, sa social net working sites ang ating damdamin at saloobin at galit sa paglalapastangan ng mga politikong ating binoto at pinagkatiwalaan sa pondo ng ating bayan at patuloy natin itong gagawin na walang humpay hangagang makamit na natin ang tunay na pagbabago sa kalakalang ating gobyerno para sa kapakanan ng ating mamayan. Sobra na talaga itong malakihang pamdarambong ng pondo ng ating bayan na nagiging sanhi at dahilan ng paglawak ng kahirapan na ating mamayan.

    4. Dear Mr. Tiglao,

      The Premier of the State of New South wales in Australia has resigned after being caught lying while being a witness in an investigation conducted by (ICAC) an independent Commission on Corruption over a bottle of vintage wine, cost $2,999.00. It seems that the Prime Ministers Cabinet Ministers are also being investigated over election donations. Its the norm in other Countries Politicians and Government officials step down when an anomaly is unearth. this is an eye opener for our Country Mr. Tiglao, Please research and let our people know why this does not happen here. I am your very avid reader.

      • Well, it’s totally the opposite in PI, when any public official (from top to bottom positions) are caught red handed (already) on corruption and other crimes, they are elected to even higher post. ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES.

    5. we are watching the political temperature and the social response of the masses in your country. Hopefully, there will be justice for all the law-abiding citizens of this much-ravaged country where the corrupt-rich move around like gods and goddesses.

    6. You make some exellent points & i wouldnt worry to much about uncovering if pnoys allotment in previous years was also stolen as surely when the next administration comes into power if they have any suspicions at all they will then surely investigate it as remember it never goes awy. That money will have left a trail. Like where it was paid to & if its fake ngo’s then the truth will come out. We now need each administration to keep this drive against corruption going & cleanse this nation of its thieving politicians & when punnishing them make it the harshest possible to deter it from others in the future.

    7. Congress (both the lower and upper house of thieves) are mostly from the landlowning class and agents of big business, who have no respect for people’s money ( the poor mass money)- they treat public funds as if its just a natural resource that they can extract and waste. Try to sneak and steal on their private estates and they will salvage you.

      The people should get mad at them and eliminate them during elections.
      We have so many laws already, we do not them to add more gobbledygook laws.

    8. Carl Cid Inting on

      Both houses of legislature are the biggest houses of ill repute in Philippine society. They are a disgrace to the Filipino people.

    9. Florentino Maddara on

      You are right, Mr. Tiglao, we need to change our system of government the soonest possible time!

    10. I’m sorry Sir Robert but in my senior citizen experience the worst congress was during Martial Law and the congress in Gloria’s time which were under Joe de V and Prospero N.

    11. Juan de la Cruz on

      Your introductory statement suggests that all this anomalies happened during the Aquino administration and this administration is a bad one.

      I beg to disagree with what you are insinuating.

      Only in Aquino’s administration that these anomalies was expose.

      Why? Because the people really put their trust on Aquino.

      Aquino was elected not because he was the best administrator but because he
      is the only man we can trust for the job at this point in time. He was elected
      because of the massive anomalies exposed during Arroyo’s time.

      Previous administrations always invoke the separation of church and state in politics but now the call of the bishops to the righteous crusading citizens to go
      into politics to clean it and try to make everything right.

      • Siony Camacho Bana on

        @Juan de la Cruz, it is sad that there is someone like you, who is so blindsighted , to the point of defending an administration whose propaganda of “Daang matuwid” stands for ” Daang Baluktot”

    12. Right ON!!!

      Continue to castigate the members Congress and the executive branch. Gangs of crooks and thieves!!. They should all be facing the firing squad.
      There should be a law that those convicted of crimes — SHOULD NEVER AGAIN HOLD ANY PUBLIC OFFICE!.

      What would it take for us ordinary Filipinos to have faith again in the government?
      God help us.

    13. Paano na ngayon? Nasira na ni Noynoy ang Kongreso, DOJ, Ombudsman, COA at marami pang government agencies. Kahit ang Supreme Court ay sinira din ni Noynoy nang i-assign niya ang mga tao na ang qualification lamang ay loyal sa kanya. Ang mga desisyon ng Supreme Court ay hindi sinusunod ni Noynoy. Ang pagsira ay nag-umpisa ng ipa-impeach niya si CJ Corona. Ang Kongreso particularly ang senado ay hindi na ginagawa ang kanilang tungkulin dahil out of 221 calendar days ay 66 days lang ang naging sessions. Ang COA, DOJ, at Ombudsman ay hindi din ginagawa ang kanilang tungkulin dahil mula ng sumabog ang pork barrel scam na matagal na nangyari ay tatlong senador na hindi kaalyado ni Noynoy lamang ang nakasuhan. Pagkatapos si Noynoy mismo ay sangkot sa: culpable violation of the constitution, bribery and corruption of public office, at graft and corruption. Sino na ng mag-aayos ng kaguluhan nangyayari? Sino ang tatakbuhan ng taong bayan upang maparusahan ang lahat na magnanakaw? Wala dahil nasira na lahat ni Noynoy ang mga government agencies natin.

    14. Mr. Tiglao,

      I have been reading your posts for many months. Let me say that you are very intelligent, brave and showing concern for people of Philippines. I just have a question in my mind.

      Why is there so much talk just to put names of involved senators/congressman in PDAF on a list and do nothing beyond this?

      Is the concern only who was involved and stop there? You can spend years debating over this as the culprits will hold every line in evidence against them to be either an absolute truth or else drop it and engage in schemas to sideline the issue.

      Number one, if the money was taken by cronies, it should be discoverable. Why there are no attempts to recover the money? Is the congress/senate giving time to cronies to hide/launder the money or get away from the country, and then focus on where the pork money has gone? The income tax authorities and NIB should go to the hideouts/assets of these cronies, and find the money, that is a proof of bribery being in public office. Recovery is the proof and then no matter what schema was used to solicit the money, the cronies will go to jail and this way the country can keep them away from contesting the elections for ever. The money recovered can be used to help citizens. It is citizen’s money.

    15. victor m. hernandez on

      Yes, change the system, It is a gordian knot, they say. And when undone, what will it be. If desperate for it, sing this song, ” march into hell for a heavenly cause”. And do it, because it will be hell of a march, it could be a death march. As mentioned somewhere else, ang Pasyon ng Pilipino ay patuloy pa rin, kahit tapos na ang seman santa. Sino ang lider o grupo ng mg mamahala ang pipiliin: Si Barabas o si Kristo? Alam na natin kung sino ang pinili, kaya wala pa rin pagbabago. Kung hindi magbago, walang pagbabago. Ikaw, ako, tayo ang dapat magbago, upang may pagbabago, Will you sing the song? Kakanta ka ba? Ang sagot “hindi ko po alam”. Ang sabi ni Maria, “ako, alam ko”. At napangiti ka lang.