• Legit NGOs suffer from scam

    Ma. Isabel Ongpin

    Ma. Isabel Ongpin

    So now the pork barrel mess brings on the collateral damage for legitimate and accomplished non-government organizations This is extremely unfair and counterpoductive at the very least. In a country like this where government is hard pressed to deliver services, competent, sincere and legitimate non-government organizations are the answer and in fact, the salvation, particularly in rural areas. No, it is not the pork barrel congressmen and senators that deliver help as a matter of course. A few may have, though I would not think they did consistently. Too many detours into the political minefield that they are mired in. When politics are involved, everything takes its color. It is the non-government organizations partnering with aid agencies, local government units, philanthropic organizations that deliver.

    It is mistaken to say as some upset legislators say now that the pork barrel has been exposed for the scams that it has engendered, that taking it away from them will mean no one will be paying attention to the far corners of this country or the poorly served ones because there is no more pork barrel funds to meet basic needs.

    The rational solution is give the funds for scholarships to schools, the Department of Education, or local boards of education. Give the funds for medical help to government hospitals and health units. Let the Department of Public Works and Highways do the infrastructure. All of them have the expertise which the staffs of legislators do not, specially when political considerations are paramount. This system of doleouts using taxpayers’ money as if it was their own perpetuates the gap between rich and poor. It gives no oportunities, no dignity to those given the crumbs of the pork barrel funds. And no one can argue that what was given were crumbs. For the kind of money that has been wasted what can we see?

    In fact, the real service-oriented non-government organizations have done better with far, far less and that is why the scammers got the idea of pretending to be ngo’s and ride on the reputation of the ones who did the work, made their name and were trusted with funding. It was cynical and effective and the legislators went along with it.

    To go over it again, legislators have no business either competence-wise or experience-wise to choose the best and most necessary projects, get their hands on the funding and then choose who will implement them. This is obvious from the fundamental conflicts of interest that arise. Moreover, the self-serving element of the politician’s quest for votes and extended stays in office collides with the concept and value of public service. Legislators must enact laws, debate policies, set the national agenda together with the Executive, engage in a national discourse with the electorate.

    Doing projects will be distracting and impede their real work. As it is their main interest has become the pork barrel from the way they take great helpings of it.

    Legitimate non-government organizations have many hurdles to overcome before they get established. Just to get a tax-free status is an incredibly difficult procedure seeing how the agency in charge has become very bureaucratic in itself. Before any work or project is chosen or accepted by funding agencies, the non-government organization has to show reputable board members, expert staff work and a track record. Obviously, the fly-by-night ones do not and yet legislators gave them millions of taxpayers’ money without minimal investigtion. Well, when the purpose is self-serving acumulation of funds not for public service but for private income, this is what happens. That is why I repeat, the pork barrel is an anomalous, anti-democratic, wasteful and self-serving institution that has proven it is not for the national good, just the private good for some clever ones among us.

    The point is to discern and differentiate between the bogus and the genuine which is easy enough if one is sincere and doing so in the name of public service. The same between the worthy non-government organizations and the criminal fake ones. So, stop putting all non-government organizations under suspicion, do the homework and see the differences among them. The odious pork barrel has cost all of us. It has created political unrest, dishonest politics, a morally bankrupt oligarchy. All of these contrary to what it is rationalized to do is anti-democratic, unfair, unequal, a perpetuation of poverty, a reinforcement of the onerous caste system, futile results in terms of nation-building.



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    1. With this pork barrel scam, I think the president (and/or by law, congress) should task the BIR to come up with “legal processes, procedures, pre-requisites and/or guidelines, etc.” that legitimate foundations should comply with before they could operate as such, and such foundations should first required to exhibit/prove their legitimacy before they can transact, and the ones giving donations/business to these foundations may only be allowed to deduct same for tax purposes, or as in the case of the pork barrel, to be considered as a valid use thereof, if the foundations concerned shall have complied with such regulations/pre-requisites required by the BIR/SEC and/or such agencies designated to monitor the same…