I have come to the conclusion that the pork barrel institutionalized in our current political system can only be an occasion of sin. The evolution of the pork barrel in our political sphere has been disheartening. Instead of raising living standards by providing good infrastructure, opportunities for true and thorough initatives in education, health care and other basic services, it has become a racket. Excuse my simplistic terms. The pork barrel is so untransparent to us ordinary citizens. We do not know how it works, we hear all sorts of horrifying rumors about waste and chicanery and we see the proof through the shoddy projects and shady behavior of people connected with it from the elected representative down to whoever handles the funds and implements what they should be spent for.
In other words, the pork barrel in our Democracy is an occasion of sin, a source of ill-gotten gain for a few who are expected to be public servants but serve themselves first. There are obviously no controls or standards of how it should be properly handled. And if they are, they are honored in the breach.
In fact, the misuse or perversion of pork barrel purposes is an art form in our present day. For one, the amounts are getting so humongous to the point of disbelief that so much can be put under the control of a legislator whose main job is to legislate and not to implement. At P200 million, a conscientious public servant would have to devote much time and effort to study and manage the huge amount honestly and properly. That would take time and effort from legislation which is the primary job he has by obligation.
Moreover, the easy flow of such funds to one person supposedly to distribute among his constituents in the form of whatever it takes to raise living standards and provide opportunities makes for wasteful spending. If too much is available, all will be spent and more in a hurry or in ill-thought if not dishonest ways.
Furthermore, the amount entices the entry of the wrong candidates for office.
Candidates who spend lavishly of their own or borrowed funds in the interest of recouping them and more by having access to a pork barrel allocation. Is this the way we want our Democracy to work?
The pork barrel is the principal reason for our money politics where only those who can get their hands on huge amounts of money have a chance to win an election.
Which leaves the field of candidates to be one of opportunistic, sell-serving creatures who are more interested in building a fortune from public funds for their re-elections, for passing on their office to relatives, for providing their future generations with enough to lead lavish, selfish lives.
Where is public service enhanced by the porrk barrel? Who is elevated to heroic public service, or even adequate public service when there is all that money to be had for one’s selfish purposes and no questions asked.
And there lies the problem, no questions asked. No one made accountable. In fact, there is a whole system that evades it.
We have come to this pass because we have ignored the signs that putting too much money in too few hands with a paucity of civic-mindedness or willigness to give true public service is now taking its toll. Or, it can also be that too much money can make one forget one’s duty.
I say it again, the pork barrel in our political life is an occasion of sin.