There is general agreement on the following:
• The pork barrel has been lining the pockets of corrupt politicians and one “suki” of Napoles alone has made half a billion pesos from the ghost deliveries of her ghost NGOs;
• While it is defensible as an institution, vile men and women in both chambers of Congress have sullied the institution beyond recognition;
• The life-changing impact of pork barrel investments in many communities across the country has been rendered a sidebar because of the unbridled fund misuse and monumental corruption; and,
• Clearly, there is a need to reform the use and application of the pork barrel.
But what institution will do the reforming is a big question mark. Just as we do not know what component of the judicial or administrative system would look into the ghastly mess and recommend the meting out of punishment to those who abused and misused congressional pork. The Department of Justice (DOJ) prefers the deeper probe by a “ super body” whatever that means. The House and the Senate should wisely inhibit themselves from looking into the giant fund mess. It would be the equivalent of assigning a fire investigation to known arsonists.
Amid the meandering and vacillation, amid the general void on who would do the investigation and prosecution of the guilty parties, the usual suspects with their loud voices and over-the-top rage have taken over the anti-pork crusade. These are our standard-issue vanguards of morality and civic virtue, from priests to academics and, of all people, high profile NGOs. As such, the anti-pork crusade has entered the sanctum of sanctimony and hypocrisy—or cynicism as the case maybe.
Take the case of the UP professors’ new-found zeal against congressional pork. Right now, a group of them have proposed the abolition of the pork, using the language of people vested with the inherent right to cast the first stone. Meaning, they are clean and they are speaking from the vantage point of purity.
What if you give these crusaders wrecking balls and the marching order to demolish from the holy grounds of Diliman all things funded by pork, whether it was money that came from UP alumni that had served in both chambers of Congress, or are incumbents? Or money from non-UP legislators who helped build things and structures within the campus?
Diliman will look like a bombed-out, hollowed-out area after the sanctimonious professors shall have demolished the pork-funded buildings and structures. Think of Manila after World War II. Or any of the European cities savaged by Hitler’s motivated bombers. Only the old buildings and a few others will be left intact.
What if the sanctimonious academics extended their wrecking fury and ventured into the labs and the libraries? Much of UP will be laid to waste as pork has had funded many things within these buildings and labs.
With over 100 state colleges and universities fighting for small slices of the yearly allocation for SUCs, UP has to get from outside sources to generate funds for fresh investments. And here, alumni in both chambers of Congress have been the most enthusiastic supporters. And the UP community has been just as enthusiastic in getting pork from senators and congressmen.
It is in this context that makes sane people puke over the sheer hypocrisy and the utter sanctimony of the scrap-the-pork movement now infecting the UP academics.
Just a day after Cardinal Tagle shed tears over the immensity and impunity of the pork scam, there was a revelation that sent the whole Catholic hierarchy into the panic mode—that Napoles money has been funding some of the high-profile charity work of priests with the Archdiocese of Manila. And that Napoles money has been maintaining luxury retirement homes for retired priests, including iconic names that you would not associate with retirement in luxury.
The Napoles money that lined the pockets of legislators was evil, definitely. What about the Napoles money that went to priestly work and priestly retirement? Has it been cleansed of the stink and its evil? Is the Napoles money going to the Church of another kind?
There are no easy answers.
Any and all “disassociation“ by the academics with UP— used pork and by the Church leaders of the Napoles money cannot put them on the high moral ground and vest them with the lead role in fighting pork. Those who should lead the reformation movement are not their kind.
There should be a search for leaders with enough gravitas and purity to lead the fight against pork, or the general movement to reform the use of congressional money. The current loud voices won’t do. They can’t cast the first stone against pork.
Meanwhile, the priests caught in the Napoles money web should follow Archbishop Cruz—return the Napoles money. And abandon the luxury retirement homes. The UP professors should commandeer wrecking balls and finish off all pork-funded buildings and structures within the Diliman campus. Then make the declaration that UP is pork free.