Katrina Stuart Santiago

Katrina Stuart Santiago

The spin is clear, and for once the PNoy government and its allies are right. All of this is legal.

Right now, as I write this on Tuesday morning, Senate President Franklin Drilon is on television. “What crime did we commit?” he asks with regards the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The inquiry he says should be: “Was it <the fund> used properly?”

The premise of course is the notion that corruption is only about the improper use of public funds. To Drilon, there is nothing wrong or corrupt about the process that the DAP went through, because unlike the pork barrel scam, which involves an entity like a (fake) non-government organization, the fund for DAP went through the correct and legal process. He can account for every single cent, Drilon says.

Of course we’ve heard this line from every other senator and congressman. We have yet to have any of them actually releasing a breakdown of where these funds go, to the last cent. It might do Drilon well to know that we’re calling his dare: show us where that money was spent, and while you’re at it, break down your PDAF allocations, too. The same goes for every other senator, every other congressman, who insists that they’re spending the people’s money correctly and properly.

After all, if all of that is being spent legally, and if none of the money is being … ehem … pocketed, then those papers should be in order, filed in some folder in your offices. It’s easy enough: make those files public.

Because while we keep hearing that money was spent on a school building, no one has showed us a breakdown of exactly how much any school building costs. I want to know how much our good congressmen and senators pay the workers who build those schools, who their contractors and architects are, where are raw materials bought? I want to know if these school buildings are needed at all.

PNoy himself has recently invoked the thousands of scholars that the pork barrel, funneled through congressmen and senators, sends to school. But where is this list of scholars? You’ve got every other congressman from Lani Mercado to every nincompoop saying that they will now cease to help the poor, they will now have no money to help indigent patients, they will now be unable to put poor kids through school.

All that is legal and above board they say. The money goes to the people.

So tell us which people. Give us a list of names of your scholars and how much you spend on each one. Give us a list of those indigent patients you have spent hundreds of thousands on. Give us a list of names of those you’ve helped. If all that pork barrel money actually goes to the scholars that PNoy likes to invoke, then pray tell, give us the names of these scholars, tell us how much it costs to put each one through school.

You’ll say, oh it’s hard to keep track, we give them lump sums. And my answer to that is this: who are you kidding? You know who you’re helping because that ascertains votes for the next elections, for you or your wife or son or brother who might be running for office, too.

If all this is above board, if all this is legal, those files should be easily accessible. It goes without saying that these should be made public.

Look at the Social Security System (SSS) and PhilHealth executive bonuses! All of it is legal, they tell us. All of it is above ground. As such there is nothing wrong now that these bonuses have been made public.

Perfectly legal, and not at all problematic, because look at how these two offices have performed its services for the people! You know the service is better because you now only have to fall in line for two hours versus three at the SSS main office in Quezon City. And last year, I was going to file the SSS of my yaya, as I have done yearly since 2007. And oh boy, the process is now so much easier! I only need to fill-up four copies of her R-3 form —one each for the four quarters of the year—that’s only 16 pages! And then I need to fill-up three copies each of her two R-5 forms, because her year of contributions begins in September of the present year and crosses over to the following year. There was a PDF file from the SSS website that I could fill-up with my computer, but it wasn’t working. But it’s okay, that’s only a total of 22 pages that I need to fill-up by hand.

That’s 22 pages that I need to go back to, so I can fill up that blank for the bank receipt number after I pay for yaya’s contributions for the year. It seems counterproductive and tedious, but it’s okay!

Last year yaya was the one who went to the SSS office so she could learn to pay and file for her SSS when she retires and have her status changed to self-employed. But the woman on the second floor of the SSS Mandaluyong office was mean to her, made her feel stupid, kept complaining about how I had filled up the forms, and why it was that her year began in September and ended in August, instead of just being January to December.

Maybe that lady didn’t get a bonus.

The same might be said of the people over at the Philhealth in Mandaluyong. They probably need more bonuses, seeing as the last time I went there to ask questions about continuing my contributions, they told me: sa website. Which is true, there is the Philhealth website, and oh boy, the kind of information it will give you! Methinks the website developers should be given a bonus, too!

And yes, those bonuses for Philhealth and SSS executive are all legal. I believe that. I believe too that were these government officers given bonuses too, and better benefits, that that would not only be above board, that would mean that the services they deliver will get better, too.

What’s wrong after all with billions in bonuses for SSS and Philhealth executives? Certainly it is important to reward those who do their jobs well, and why can we not do it for government companies, even as these are being run like private corporations? After all, private sector executives get even bigger bonuses when their companies perform well. They get bonuses from their profits. SSS and Philhealth executives get bonuses because of the Filipino people’s contributions. It’s the same banana.

Most importantly, all of this is legal. All of this is above board. All of this—the DAP allocations, the pork barrel disbursements, the SSS and Philhealth bonuses—all of these are legal.

This is the spin of PNoy’s government: all of these are legal, and that means it is not corrupt.

Of course now we know that without valid and easily accessible accounting for PDAF and DAP; and without considering the impoverished many, the working class, that contribute to the bonuses of the executives of Philhealth and SSS, legal does not necessarily mean moral.

In the case of billions in unaccounted for PDAF and DAP funds, and billions in bonuses for government officials, legal just means swapang, dupang, gahaman, ganid.


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  1. You have written well what I have been asking for all these weeks and months. It is very easy for these government people starting from BS Aquino, senators, congressmen, to the lowest government employee to prove that they didn’t commit any illegal acts such as pocketing the funds just by publishing or showing us a breakdown of how they spent these funds. It is really frustrating that nobody, and I mean nobody, has done this! It just proves that all of them are really corrupt to the bones, and the topnotchers are BS Aquino, Butch Abad, Drilon (the DAP trio!).

  2. when you guys deliberately wet your beak on the gravy train oozing out of the pork barrel while the rest of the populace are starving may not be a crime, but it is an abomination!

  3. well written maam.. and you have certainly hit the right button.. more power to you and God bless you too…

  4. Giving senators or anyone person control over who & how much to give to individuals will lead to corruption. Especially here in the philippines as look at juan ponce enrile when he gave all that money to most senators but left out i think 3. That is corruption. Why doesnt this government look at say for instance the UK to see how they spend the tax money. Its a huge difference than here & it works. Its been done like this here for years because its an easy way of using corruption. Like change the dollar bank account rules that no one is allowed access to it without the owners written consent. That is there to hide illegal or ill gotten money. But this country wants it to protect those in high places who steal or get money illegally.

  5. Subscribed ako 1000% sa sinabi mo. Dagdag ko lang: If those SSS and Philhealth functionaries (specially the first) were really doing their jobs well enough to deserve their perks, they should have been able to improve their systems and procedures to make it easier for members to accomplish those required forms. Also, they should have been able to do away with the long lines and crowded conditions in all their offices where members have to transact business. A sense of propriety likewise dictates that bonuses should be foregone at a time when members’ premium contributions need to be raised to avert depletion of actuarial reserves, di po ba?

  6. When the government says it is legal for sure something is rotten. The word legal is now the same as hoodwink. Like it is legal to delay the ampatuan trial thru what the Rules of Court allow daw or re-allign budget or regulators to issue circulars in the morning and amend them in the afternoon.

  7. Asiong Ignacio on

    Ms Katrina,

    Your question on where and how the PDAP and DAP given to our legislators spent should be answered. They should account for every centavo. This information should be published and be made available to the public. It is our money that was spent anyway. Will you please lead the way and let us require all our elected officials to provide us with a full disclosure of their PDAP and DAP. How about hiring a private audit agency conduct a full audit? If they insist that they did not see their PDAP and DAP and it is the implementing agencies that release the funds, then they should ensure these implementing agencies did their job correctly. This is checks and balances. Thanks.


  8. It is sad to see people in power living their lives in such disregard, void of morale values. (not all, there could be more honest public servant than rotten to the core self indulging ghouls). They have taken an oath to protect the poor, defend the helpless, and provide for the needy, Let us take solace that one day they will answer to higher power, eventhough they don’t believe in the divine providence, their time will come. No amount of priveledge speeches can admonish your sin.