• To a young media person disillusioned with PDAF, presidential pork and all that



    When the Napoles scam exploded and the public angrily demanded the abolition of pork, you probably thought that reforms were finally on the way. You covered all the messy details which were revealed and fed to the public on a daily basis. You trailed the developments in the anti-pork movement which captured public attention and further stoked their rage and fanned their loud demands for action. You went to the Supreme Court hearings and noted the various nuances in the arguments for and against pork.

    Confession after confession, shocking expose after expose, hearing after hearing—all these you duly noted and reported to the public, with the air of a knight searching for the holy grail of reform.

    And when the Supreme Court delivered its stunning 14-0 decision declaring congressional pork unconstitutional, you were elated. Like you, most Filipinos were cheering and expecting more reforms to come.

    And then, the 2014 budget was signed by the President on December 20, 2012. Along with the public, you realized that congressional pork was not totally deleted but merely realigned. You discovered that the lump sum appropriations which the press described as “presidential pork” were happily embedded in the 2014 budget to the tune of P282.5 billion.

    You saw that after the rallies, marches, congressional hearings and the unanimous Supreme Court decision declaring congressional pork as unconstitutional—the 2014 budget still remains lumpy. After a year of intense campaigns, do we deserve all these bukols? Were all our exertions wasted?

    To add insult to injury another bukol has surfaced—unconstitutional use of savings. You had to report that according to the Executive, the issue is now moot and academic because they have stopped the practice!

    You are now wondering if there is hope after all. Can the budget be truly reformed?

    Isn’t it time to give up the fight, move on and leave the corrupt to their dirty shennanigans? Perhaps, they will self-destruct?

    Of course, the budget can be reformed! As they say, the impossible just takes a little longer. We are trying to change a system which goes all the way back to the American period, a good 113 years go. We can’t do it in one year. But we certainly made a good start with the Supreme Court decision on congressional pork.

    First, more and more people are aware of the national budget and what it does and does not do for them. The jeepney driver, the lavandera, the vendor and the housewife know all about PDAF (rhymes with Badaf, according to Gary Granada), congressional pork and presidential pork. Now, they also know that there are such things as DAP, special purpose funds, and off-budget funds. They even know how to spell “Malampayaand they know what PAGCOR is.

    However, we have to sustain public interest. Right now, they are titillated and diverted by Vhong, Cedric and Deniece.

    I have stated right from the beginning that only media and the organized citizenry—civil society, educational institutions, and civic and faith-based organizations can put a stop to banditry and thievery in public finance. The Executive and the Legislature obviously benefit from these abuses. Quid pro quo. The Judiciary can only come in if we petition them.

    We citizens have every reason to take action. After all, it is our money. We are paying for this huge P2.264 trillion national expenditure program. It is in our interest to make sure that the taxes we pay go back to us in the form of services.

    Secondly, what is involved here are not just the budget laws, circulars, memoranda and other issuances. What is involved is nothing less than the Constitution itself which clearly delineates the functions of the three branches of government.

    The President and all officials are sworn to protect the Constitution, and not violate it. If no less than the government ignores the Constitution, we will be creating anarchy and encouraging widespread looting.

    Thirdly, even beyond the Constitution, these are primarily issues that strike at the very heart of our society’s morals and value system. We pontificate and posture righteousness in our families, schools, churches and civic institutions. We know what is going on. We cannot stand by and just watch.

    Yes, you are disillusioned. You are tired. Many of us are. The sensible thing to do is give up. But we need to go on and complete what we have started. If we stop now, we will have to start all over again.

    If it will help, let me close with a few lines translated from the poems of the immortal Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.

    “A slow death comes for those who don’t revolt when they’re unhappy
    in their work or in love,
    Who don’t risk the certain for the uncertain in order to follow a dream,
    Who don’t allow themselves, at least once in their life,
    to disregard sensible advice.”

    And to those who continue to manipulate, prevaricate , and facilitate daylight robbery, let us, like Pablo Neruda, tell them:

    “You can pick all the flowers but you can’t stop the spring!”



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    1. Giving up should not be an option. Yes, it will take time to earn real freedom and transformation of government can not be done overnight. Punishing these evil offenders sitting at the throne of power is a must with no delay. Slowly but we have to set our feet forward towards the change that will save our country. Corrupt mentality of Filipinos should be cured. It is like cancer that gradually kills our country. An enormous dose of unity to make us all stronger, an immense dose of extensive education that will change the mindset of every Filipinos, a massive dose of patience and perseverance to awaken every Filipinos to be more participative and more involved in every issues that our government has. We, the Filipino people should know that we have the power to save our country.

    2. “I would rather have a Philippines run like hell by Filipinos than a Philippines run like heaven by the Americans” — Manuel L. Quezon
      It’s like hell now………………………………………..

    3. R. A. OBLEOPAS on

      PADAYON! Is there some sort of a mafia that creates “events” to grab the attention of mass media from the Napoles scam/PDAF/DAP and other corrupt practices? I hope the mainstream and/or alternative media provide regular update on the Napoles et al scam. On the other hand, the Vhong-Deniece-Cedric issue can also give us a glimpse of some corrupt practices and corruptible conditions relative to government-private partnership.

    4. Radito S. Mendoza on

      Dear Prof. Briones, me and my family are with you but we do not have the opportunity to attend the rallies in support of your crusade. How can we help? For the sake of a better future, wish you luck and please continue with your crusade. God Bless always!

    5. Social Watch Philippines on

      A note for the Editor:

      The Special Purpose Funds (presidential pork) should amount to P282.5 B, not just P 82.5 B.

      Thank you.

    6. troyzaratedeleon on

      May the citizenry finally move and claim the right to a decent government and public services.

    7. leonor magtolis briones on

      thank you @Florentino Maddara for your response. we have to continue our vigilance and keep watch over taxpayers money. by the way, the special purpose funds of the executive is Ph282.5 billion, not just Ph82.5 billion as printed. somewhere between my emailed txt and the printing, Ph200 billion lost its way!

    8. hay naku suntok sa buwan na yang media na yan, they are so mababaw na when it comes to reporting, cant even ask intelligent questions.. magaling lang mga yan sa chismis

    9. Yes, there shall be a day of reckoning for the master thieves, warlords and dynasties who squandered people’s money.

      The people remain mired in poverty whist contributing trillions of pesos to the public coffers every year meanwhile their elected leaders and minions, siphon the funds and live like maharajahs.

      Next time use the vote wisely and be alert for irregularities. You only get the government that you deserve…You force the politicians to be clowns and buyers of your votes during the election campaign. After that they become the Kings and will treat the vote-sellers contemptuously.

    10. florentino maddara on

      Yes Madam, lets be vigilant of these yellow shirted, neck-tied and barong cladded people in the legislature and Malacanyang who are robbing us of the taxpayers money and even in cahoots with the greedy oligarchs in further sucking us money in the operation of the power industry, black sand mining and other small mining operations destroying our natural resources spearheaded by greedy local officials, smuggling of prime commodities, drug trafficking, etc. These filthy rich officials mostly coming from political dynasties continue to reign ever since and forever(?) making our country a hell of a place!