Seemingly not contented with the low approval rating of the House, Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro now wants to pull it down further by threatening to file an impeachment case against some Supreme Court justices for declaring the present pork barrel system unconstitutional.
The abuse and misuse of pork barrel, euphemistically called Priority Development Assistance Fund, is the main reason why congressmen are now held in low esteem by the people. Surveys after surveys have consistently shown that the people want the pork, whether of lawmakers or of Malacañang, should go. The Supreme Court decision against pork was acclaimed by the people. Yet, Umali is disregarding the people’s sentiments and is threatening to go against the magistrates who outlawed their beloved pork.
Approval to hit rock-bottom
Umali seems to believe that the successful impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona could spill over into the move against those SC justices who had no sympathy for their pork. He was quoted as saying that he believed he could get his colleagues’ support as they were angry at the SC decisions. An endorsement by one-third of the 289 congressmen would suffice to initiate an impeachment complaint. If Umali’s move gains momentum, it will be the House version of the limbo rock. How low can you go? Rock-bottom in public esteem if you ask me.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court’s stature will go up should it shrug off all threats, veiled or otherwise, meant to make it submissive to the will of Umali and his kindred souls. The high tribunal is now handling a case questioning the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which critics call a virtual lump-sum pork barrel at the complete disposal of President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino 3rd. People are hoping any decision would not be influenced by pressures from Malacañang and members of Congress like Umali.
To his credit, Speaker Sonny Belmonte said he wouldn’t support any move to impeach the justices. He said that the decision on the unconstitutionality of the pork barrel isn’t an impeachable offense even if congressmen had been affected by it.
I know that Malacañang and district congressmen need the pork more than senators and party-list representatives who have no geographic constituencies. Senators don’t need the pork to get reelected as shown by Senators Joker Arroyo and Ping Lacson. I also know that many congressmen and senators had used their pork judiciously. These are the lawmakers who have the interest of the people as their top priority. However, recent revelations on the existence of fake non-government organizations as conduits for pork-funded projects worth billions of pesos show that pork now has to go and lawmakers must now concentrate on their main job—making laws.
‘Man of Steel’ title justified?
Gushing, adoring newshens have bestowed on President BS Aquino the title of “Man of Steel” for his performance in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. To Malacañang, this is more welcome than the title (more deserved, many would say) “King of Pork.” For some reasons, the newshens who are mainstays of Bulong-Pulongan did not give details on why they considered him a Man of Steel. Well, here are the possible “justifications” for this new title.
President BS Aquino is a “Man of Steel” because:
• He remains cool (cold?) and collected while all around him were losing their composure, like the police officer who said the number of fatalities in Tacloban could reach 10,000. The President, who has more reliable information, said the dead would only be around 2,000 to 2,500.
• He could not be moved by hysterics of Tacloban businessmen who were being threatened by looters and robbers. Only a Man of Steel has the courage (?) to tell one such businessman: You are still alive, aren’t you?
• He and his Cabinet members sent to Eastern Visayas (DILG Sec. Mar Roxas and DND Sec. Voltaire Gazmin) remain blameless on the slow response of the government to the disaster. Who but a Man of Steel could believe that he is beyond reproach even if hundreds of dead remain unburied weeks after the typhoon foreign responders were even faster than local ones, and there was no system in the government’s relief operations?
• He could readily see within minutes of arriving in Tacloban that the devastation in the city was not as huge as the 90 to 95 percent estimated by officials because the city jail lost only its roof. Such clarity in vision could only be had by a Man of Steel, a man who always sees the positive side even in a calamity.