• Monumental corruption meets cynicism and sanctimony

    Marlen V. Ronquillo

    Marlen V. Ronquillo

    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.



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    1. Dencio Pascual on

      It is clear that pork barrel regardless of its notoriety has also genuinely benefitted a wide spectrum of our society. It is not bad per se, the intention when this was created was sincere and noble.

      It is the implementation that has really gone out of control. In the first place there are loopholes as big as “inburnals” on how one can avail of the pork largesse and once again the cunning, wicked and maliciously shrewd among us took full advantage of the inherent weakness. In general the system of control in our government is really garbage. Had not one disgruntled guy exposed the Napoles racket, everything would have been quite and peaceful. Yet now COA, DBM and all other agencies involved in the release of funds are in the bandwagon, washed their hands and joined the crusade. Of course they are aware of the anomalies but have opted to be quiet, buried all the paper trails in their archives and hoped and prayed that all is well.

      We all know that the time of GMA were the happiest times for corruption. All heads of government departments and agencies to include the politicians under GMA’s wings were given free reign to pillage and plunder the government treasury. Exposes after exposes were discovered. No one was spared, even the AFP were crucified. It was no longer just the usual rackets like government projects, procurements, illegal gambling or the favorite pork barrel. Every source of funds was siphoned even those really intended for the marginalized and afflicted were not spared like fertilizer fund, malampaya, calamity funds, PCSO, etc. The strategy of GMA was simple and tested, make everyone happy and Gloria will be glorified, her allies will clamor for her perpetual leadership. They were not looking at nine years, they were about to change to constitution that will perpetuate GMA’s reign. Even the Supreme Court was under GMA’s control.

      Sad to say we seemed to have forgotten this dark stage of our history. Let this Napoles scam be investigated fully so we will know who are really behind this monumental racket.

    2. Change will come when Filipinos stop electing and re-electing known corrupt politicians. Imelda Marcos and family, the Enriles, and Gloria Arroyo come to mind as a tiny example. All your lofty ideas will come to naught as long as these criminals and too many others are allowed to prey on the Philippine people.

    3. Nice article. Abolishing the Pork is not the answer. The UP Professors clamoring for the the Pork’s demise are just as oblivious as the next bystander.

    4. Dear sir:
      As an additional comment on priests having received dirty money from Napoles, and now that the priests know that these financial support came from illicit source, would they still continue staying in that retirement house at Magallanes village, knowing that Napoles, their benefactor, own the house and is in hiding?
      Out of delicadeza and so as not to be considered accessories-after-the-fact, they should give up that retirement house and stop receiving donations coming from Napoles!

    5. virgilio monteza on

      Mr. Ronquillo, an excellent commentary but as far as the priests that you mentioned, they were in good faith when they were given assistance by Napoles. If the priests particularly Monsignor Ramirez knew that it came from illegal source, he could have rejected it.