THE Philippines may suffer the same fate as Haiti, Burma and Guinea if the government fails to prosecute legislators and influential individuals implicated in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, Sen. Miriam Santiago warned on Friday.
Speaking during the 50th anniversary of the Colegio de Santa Rosa in Makati City, Santiago said that the Philippines might become a failed state just like the countries she mentioned if the senators and representatives charged with plunder succeed in delaying the cases before the Ombudsman and in the Sandiganbayan.
A failed state, according to Transparency International, is one where the state lacks an effective judicial system, and lacks the rule of law.
“State failure can be caused by rampant corruption, predatory elites who have long manipulated power, and an absence of the rule of law,” Santiago, a constitutional law expert explained.
The senator cited the case of Guinea—despite its high economic growth rate the state suffered failure because the economic prosperity was not able to stop the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
She also cited Burma and Haiti as states that failed because of corruption and repression.
Santiago said that the issue regarding the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the development acceleration program (DAP) is causing serious deterioration of state function and the government must address these by having those liable in the controversy prosecuted.
“The behavior of my colleagues with respect to PDAF and DAP have been so self-seeking that senators and representatives involved have crossed the line into kleptocracy or into state capture,” she said.
But Santiago said that there is still hope and the country can still avoid a final collapse by taking three steps.
First, Santiago said that the administration should allow the Supreme Court temporary restraining order (TRO) to remain in place, on the release of the balance of the PDAF for 2013.
Second, the senator proposed that the P2.268-trillion budget for 2014 recently passed by the House of Representatives should be reduced by removing the P25.4 billion pork barrel.
Third, the Senate should integrate into the regular budget certain off-budget sources of revenues, namely: the P130 billion Malampaya Fund; P12.5 billion motor vehicle users charge; the Pagcor Social Fund; and the PCSO Charity Fund.
“At this point of the rising tide of scandals, we need drastic and transformative policies. We should be ready for difficult confrontations with powerful vested interests in both the Senate and the House of Representative,” Santiago added.