LET me paraphrase the title of this piece to make it less offensive: Is the Philippines fast becoming a looters’ paradise? (if it isn’t one yet).
If the guilty parties in government still find that offensive, they have the option of replacing “fast” with “slowly.”
Due Diligencer assumes that most public servants are honest. If some of them go astray, they may be “isolated cases,” but nevertheless, their misdeeds should not be condoned or easily dismissed. Sometimes, temptation is simply too great to resist. But then again, that’s only in the beginning.
Nevertheless, my point is that government officials deserve the benefit of the doubt. They should not be prejudged just because they are in government, lest they become unfairly treated with public ridicule. It is best that they are judged by way of an election – the voting public can either reelect or reject them.
Abuse of public funds
Let me go back to the poser. Has this country become a paradise for the looters of this world? To know the answer, even if only partially, the ordinary Filipino only has to read the decision of the Supreme Court outlawing the much-abused “pork barrel,” which had been renamed Presidential Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Due Diligencer, however, opts for the separate but concurring opinion written by Justice Arturo D. Brion on the Supreme Court’s PDAF ruling, in which he described the abuse of government money.
“Notably,” Justice Brion wrote, “this combined application of the PDAF and DAP systems – according to news reports and the privilege speech of one senator – enabled the Executive to secure the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona and the filing of impeachment charges against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.”
“The present DAP case, for its part,” he said, referring to the government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program, “involves circumstances that are similar to PDAF and much more: it involves funds amounting to almost P150 billion or almost 15 times the PDAF case, entanglement with the unconstitutional PDAF; personalities at the very highest level in both the Executive and the Legislative Departments of government…”
P150B not for the poor
Try analyzing the above quote, which aptly describes the abuse and misuse of government money that “demonstrated a lack of respect for public funds, institutions and the Constitution,” according to the good justice.
Imagine what P150 billion of government money could have done for the poor of the country’s more than 100 million population. If the poor city slum dwellers and squatters would not be too picky with regards to location, and they are given a reasonable amount of that money to buy a house on a piece of land for their own use, P150 billion would go a long way for these people to live much more comfortably than they do right now.
Try googling for advertised low-cost houses and divide P150 billion DAP money by the price and see how many thousands of homeless families could have been taken off our city streets. Even luxurious homes could be afforded by that amount – some 15,561 of them, somewhere in Quezon City at a cost of about P9.63 million each. At double that unit price, or at P18 million each, P150 billion could buy 8,333 posh houses.
Okay, to be more realistic in bringing the dream homes of the poor within reach, how about going lower and farther away from Metro Manila, such as in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan? As advertised in Sulit-.com.ph, a house-and-lot package in the town costs P910,000. At this price, P150 billion could provide 164,835 houses for the less privileged Filipino families. In the more remote areas where lots cost much less, say at P100,000 each, P150 billion would mean 1.5 million shelters for the poor.
If the abuse that made the P150 billion in DAP money disappear does not yet qualify the Philippines as the looters’ paradise, Due Diligencer requests the readers of The Manila Times to review the paper’s editorials, which use the adjective “massive” in describing corruption that has penetrated the inner sanctum of government.
On a personal note, I had to deviate from the usual topics that I write about related to the stock market. I find the deviation necessary in view of the continued government neglect of the poor, as I attempt to address the next national leadership of this country who, I hope, are to emerge not from among those in power today.
I have given up on Malacanang’s present temporary occupants, led by their chief, to do some service for the poor who make up more than 30 percent of the population, whose total number had long ago breached the 100 million mark.
Many of the incumbent officials adopt the same line of politicking espoused by their leaders and patrons, so that that they would only release government funds to assist even the legitimate victims of natural disasters if the would-be recipients align themselves with the camp of the ones administering such public funds.
“Remember you are a Romualdez….” – is a much publicized quote from a Malacañang emissary who met with the local leaders of Tacloban City at the height of Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013. I cut short the quote because I don’t enjoy mentioning the other name.
The Palace man’s message was very clear: political enemies and their constituents do not deserve government help in the form of financial assistance from the funds that, in the first place, really belong to the people.