There is a joke in Filipino that says “Kung gusto mong yumaman, tumakbo ka sa pulitika (if you want to get rich, join politics).
This may sound absurd, but with the unearthing of the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam, this funny line is for real after all.
It’s no longer a mystery why politicians, particularly senators and congressmen, spend hundreds of millions during elections knowing their salaries and allowances will not be enough to cover those expenditures during their term of office.
The answer lies in the PDAF, better known as “pork barrel” which was given to senators and congressmen.
Fat commissions, kickbacks or “tongpats” handed over by unscrupulous contractors and suppliers lure people with political ambitions to run for office in the legislative branch of the government.
One case in point is a former legislator who did not own a car because he was poor. So, he went to Congress every day by taking public transportation.
Lo and behold, after three terms at the House of Representatives, this good-for-nothing lawmaker, since he did not pass any law at all while in office, now owns a mansion in a subdivision near Congress, a van, a luxury car, a palatial house and several pieces of land in his hometown in southern Mindanao.
Another example is an account representative of a publishing company who hit pay dirt when he started transacting business with lawmakers.
Now he owns a publishing house, a printing company, several luxury cars and a big house in Taguig all because of the “pork barrel” that were abused by these elected officials.
But the best classic example is Janet Lim-Napoles, who only finished high school and sold fried bananas in Basilan before but who now has billions of assets and bank accounts, thanks to PDAF.
Now that PDAF has been abolished, I wonder if there will be a lot of people still interested in running for senatorial and congressional seats in the coming elections in 2016.
Supplier who owes billions in taxes may cover BIR deficit
The last time I spoke with Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares over the radio, she admitted that the BIR is still several billions short of its tax target for this year.
If, however, the BIR is really bent on meeting its tax collection target, which is a little over P2 trillion, all it needs to do is go after companies that made hundreds of billions from the “pork barrel.”
Among those on top of the list is one Mayland Enterprises, which reportedly has made hundreds of billions from overpriced textbooks and computer hardware and software for several public schools since the Estrada administration in1999.
Mayland, which is owned and operated by a certain couple Beth and Jed Gracia, has been cornering billions and billions of PDAF-funded projects in Congress in exchange for fat commissions for legislators there.
An employee at the BIR, who requested anonymity, said Mayland has not declared its correct income since 2000, paying only thousands in taxes, based on the bureau’ records.
Another source in Congress said Mayland really struck it rich in 2009 when it overpriced by as much as P450,000 a computer unit that was worth only P50,000 in the market.
Mayland delivered more than 10,000 computers to various schools funded by the PDAF and several thousands more to the Department of Education during the time of Secretary Jesli Lapus.
And because they made almost a trillion pesos over the years for delivering overpriced textbooks and computers, the Gracia couple can afford to lose millions in the casino every night, according to a friend in Pagcor.
Henares should not waste a day more. She should go after the Gracia couple and their company. They may be the answer to the BIR’s anticipated shortfall this year.