Without pork, Aquino is a lame duck

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Without the pork barrel funds, President Aquino will most likely be a lame-duck president for the remaining three years of his administration, and we will see a truly independent Congress after all these hypocritical three years. Even the controversy alone over pork barrel and Aquino’s efforts to deal with it will have consequences that will loosen his hold on Congress.

That senators and congressmen have supported Mr. Aquino because of his openhandedness in doling out to them the euphemistically termed Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), rather than because they are adherents of his tuwid na daan pseudo-ideology is obvious in the mammoth scale of such funds released by this president:

• These averaged P24.8 billion annually from 2011 to 2013, with the budget he approved for this year even increasing the pork barrel to P27 billion.

• This is three times the P7.4 billion annual average from 2008 to 2010, the last years of President Arroyo’s administration.


Source: Department of Budget and Management

Source: Department of Budget and Management

Check out in the table, the senators who had the largest increases in their pork barrel in 2012, and you’d suspect they were merely brilliant actors debating law and ethics during Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment.

I had wondered then why the Left party-lists were the most vociferous in condemning Corona who stood firm against the landlord clan of the Cojuangcos in the Hacienda Luisita case in the Supreme Court. Check out how much they got in pork barrel during the year of the impeachment and these self-styled purported crusaders had pork-barrel money up to their ears.

Smarter than others of course was then Akbayan representative Kaka Bag-ao, who was even in the legal panel of the prosecutors. Few knew that she was a resident of the Province of Dinagat Island, and her support of the impeachment against Corona was just a step for her political ambitions.

After the trial, her reward was as Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s “liaison” to the province, after the House of Representatives expelled its elected representative Ruben Ecleo, since the Supreme Court affirmed the graft case against him. As “caretaker”, Bag-ao got control of the province’s remaining P137 million pork-barrel, more than enough for her to win the May elections. Good-bye Akbayan, for her.

If Aquino abolishes Congress’ pork barrel, it would be his most important, game-changing legacy to the nation.

But he won’t, or can’t.

Unwittingly, Aquino himself belied his intention to abolish the pork-barrel system, when he explained what would replace it. By definition, pork barrel here and elsewhere is “is government spending for localized projects secured primarily to bring money to a representative’s district” so as to strengthen his political support among voters there.

Aquino will not be junking that system. He will merely make changes in its implementation.

Pork barrel is presently a lump-sum fund (officially P70 for congressmen and P200 million for Senators) the actual use in his district of which legislator determines after the budget has been approved and in place. Aquino’s proposal is for congressmen and senators to include the detailed use of the pork barrel as items in the appropriations bill they will be passing for approval by the President.

The only big change in Aquino’s scheme in terms of combating corruption would be that there would be a ban on appropriating funds to NGOs, many of which scandalously have turned out to be ghost entities. Aquino claims that the use of the funds will be “transparent” as these will be posted in government’s website.

Good luck, but I’d bet the corrupt in government and the business sector would find ways and means to rig biddings, which is usually done through dummy bidders.

Aquino’s new pork barrel system will continue with the allocations for “localized projects” but with one important change: He or his factotums, mainly Budget secretary Florencio Abad, would in effect still have the say to approve or not the actual release of the funds. If a legislator doesn’t do his bidding, his request for the release of funds for his district will be lost in the bureaucratic maze in the Budget department, told that there are no funds available, or silently ignored.

Legally impossible? Every congressman by law has P70 million annually in their PDAF allocations. How much has Zambales First District congressman Milagros Magsaysay, an articulate critic of this administration, received since 2011 under Aquino’s term? Zero. Not a single centavo. When she asked Abad to explain why, he arrogantly replied: “There are political realities.”

It will be a very rough time ahead for Mr. Aquino as he tries to put in place a new system for getting Congress to do his bidding.

First, he has ordered pork-barrel releases to be put on hold until “reforms” are in place. But until when? Every day that the legislators don’t get their hands on their pork barrel, Aquino’s leashes attached to their necks are loosened. It is likely that some legislators will question the legality of Aquino’s suspension since, after all, the PDAF is an item in the Appropriations Act they passed and which the President approved as a law of the land.

Second, what happens now to the budget proposal for 2014 that had the lump sum PDAF, which Aquino asked Congress on July 10 to approve? (Secretary Ricky Carandang boasted then that Aquino closely scrutinized the budget “because he wants to make sure that taxpayers’ money is being spent properly and efficiently.” That was less than a month before the pork barrel exposes triggered a firestorm of protest. )

Will Aquino withdraw it and rewrite it so that the use of pork barrel will instead be line items in the budget? Speaker Belmonte said that he has asked congressmen to “consult with their constituents” so they can identify and list the projects that would be made as line items in the budget. Is there a single congressman doing this?

It is already September next week, and with the Christmas season, there are only three months to re-do the budget, for Congress to approve it, and the President to sign it into law.

Will the legislators revise it to comply with Aquino’s declaration to change the pork barrel system? Or will they resist him? Will they delay the passage of a new appropriations act for next year until they are assured of their pork? After all, it is Congress, and Congress alone, which approves the budget, whether or not it will have pork barrel funds. Already, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte has said that he expects opposition to its scrapping.

With Aquino no longer able to give them their pork barrel, why would congressmen support him? They may even calculate that the best way to wrangle concessions from Aquino one way or another, at the same time earn press mileage, is to join the growing outrage against him. They are not ignorant of the fact that one of the surest way to get into the Senate, and even the Presidency—as in the case of Mr. Aquino—is to be so vociferously against a President.

A political landslide has fallen on Aquino’s tuwid or not-so-tuwid na daan. Study the permutations of the pork-barrel issue, and it’s obvious that it will make Aquino a lame-duck president for the rest of his term. Maybe even a sitting duck in the political battles ahead.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
www.rigobertotiglao.com and www.trigger.ph

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39 Comments

  1. TAXPAYER AKOYPNOY on

    I think even if u lessen it and have it audited, they will still find ways to corrupt and influence it. I wish they abolish it completely and put the budget to our existing government branches like Dept of Education, DSWD, modernize our local Hospitals and make it cheaper, enhance PHILHEALTH so they can cover more medical expenses, modernize PNP, PHIL ARMY, AIR FORCE, NAVY…for sure mas maraming pilipino ang totoong matutulungan. Sa laki ng pork barel, bkit ang daming humihingi ng tulong sa Phil Charity Sweepstake? Sa mga public service/assistance gaya ng sa GMA7, ABSCBN??!

  2. Kulaspiro Mingao on

    Ano ba kayo? The phrase “lame duck” has a specific meaning and does not refer to somebody who is generally ineffective or inefficient. Dictionary.com defines “lame duck” as:
    1. an elected official or group of officials, as a legislator, continuing in office during the period between an election defeat and a successor’s assumption of office.
    2. a president who is completing a term of office and chooses not to run or is ineligible to run for reelection.
    3. a person finishing a term of employment after a replacement has been chosen.
    GMA was a lame duck president when she made the midnight appointment of Renato Corona as CJ. That was unconstitutional on two counts. First, she was a lame duck official, and Corona was a midnight appointee. Just those two things would suffice for Corona — or anyone else whom GMA were to appoint at the time — to be impeachable. Period. No other issues, SALN or what, were relevant. Joker Arroyo was right in saying how comic it was of us all to impeach a CJ based on SALN

    • Kulaspiro Mingao on

      …How comical (not comic) it was of us all to impeach a CJ based on SALN. Joker was not joking. And take note, he did not use any of his pork barrel allocation. Prudent and sober, he is.

  3. I believe that Pork barrel might be needed, but to prevent pocketing or maybe lessen it, it has to be subject to auditing and anything that goes against the ruling should be prosecuted…. Also, maybe the pork barrel has to be lessen because I have noticed since the pork barrel has been increased. government workers in hazardous areas like hospitals and etc.. have prob with benefits to be specific – Hazard pay. Not until Noynoy stepped up in office our Hazard pays have been wisely manipulated. That’s just an observance…

  4. This article is just misleading. I checked on DBM’s website the amounts indicated in his table. What the author intentionally indicated here are the total amounts released to the legislators in the year 2012. And what he intentionally forgot to mention is that some of these amounts were not part of 2012 budget. They were continuing releases from 2011 PDAF which were only released in 2012. Thus, I don’t see the author’s point that these legislators were favored in terms of their PDAF. Well, what can we expect from a cohort of GMA’s corrupt administration? Keeps on pointing fingers to other people when in fact the height of anomalies, which we are all dealing with right now, happened during the term of his president GMA.

    • PNoys media is working 24/7 to ensure that in the midst of this bruhaha his hard headedness will prevail..what a way of saving a president from shame..

  5. correct… he’ll need pork to get the support of senators and congressmen to have his chosen successor elected.

  6. Diego M. Panganiban on

    Jesus said ” Seek and you shall find” Tiglao is a heckler . He always seeks for things to heckle Noynoy.

    Pork barrel is for the executive department . It is needed. Per se, pork barrel is not bad. It depends upon its usage. It is unfortunate that we have corrupt and callous senators and congressmen who pocketed this fund. Let lawmakers make laws only and remove the pdaf from them. They have shown that they cannot be trusted with funds. So far, Noynoy is not implicated in any graft case.

    Shame on you Tiglao.

    • Diego,

      PNoy, lame duck without PDAF is a simple plain statement of fact. This is the same predicament of every occupant in Malcanang has. What Tiglao is saying of PNoy how he used the porky would be the same as what other presidents had done.

      Don’t be pikon.

      My piece of advise, you better know your President.

    • If the President will be a lame duck, basta wala na yong pork barrel na yan, so be it. The government will still function and will function better because we have a well-trained bureaucracy. Basta approved ang budget, the government will move.

      Without the pork , the lawmakers will also be lameducks. It is better that way than them pocketing 60 percent of the pork. Nothing happens at all, no service, no nothing. He he he.

    • He is included in the DBM list, except that Abad already exonerated him for any wrongdoing..

  7. Bhogs Etcetera on

    If PDAF will be abolised, who have the rights to make project proposal of those 10billion worth of projects?

    • The President will have all the rights and control over the distribution of these PDAFs..this would result then in more waste of taxpayers money being allocated to alligator senators, congressmen and cabinet men who are more worse than Corona..Better spend the money to build government hospitals in every province..increase the salaries of government doctors, make education free for all (elementary to college), build more government housing for government employees and make them more affordable..200 pesos monthly amortization – just like those relocation houses granted to informal settlers..

  8. Nice analysis Mr. Tiglao, but you so nicely glossed over the fact that this pork barrel system was also quite deftly used by your former boss Gloria against her political opponents – a system that you were a part of not so long ago.

    A sauce for the goose is also sauce for the uh “lame duck”?

  9. The great thing about the Million People March against the pork barrel is there is no rallying figure or personality to draw the crowds in. The rallying figure is the CAUSE — that is, to end the pork barrel system , as it has proven time and again and at a scale unbelievable, to be corrupt and corrupting.

    Politicians will come and go, they may change their political stripes, break their promises, modify their stance out of political expediency, but in the Million People March, since there is no rallying figure or personality, the CAUSE stands above us all and cannot therefore be dragged by the weaknesses of political wannabes.

    I’m glad that at its first test, the people-driven movement, spurred by social media, has passed its first test of staging the event itself. The next stage will be follow-through, making sure that the mobilization will pressure institutions such as Congress to genuinely abolish the pork barrel by removing all the discretionary, non-audit funds in the national budget.

  10. If true that PNoy becomes lame duck, or even leaves, that would be a shame…
    Ninoy, Cory, Noynoy… we know them not to have Graft and Corruption in their heart.
    We lost Ninoy, Cory had worse problems than Obama, do we now abandon PNoy???

    This is a time when the people can show their support so people like PNoy can reform the system…
    Imagine if you were PNoy surrounded by people who have made stealing from the people as a family business, it takes more than courage to break this system. It takes a strong will and a pure heart, and yet can fail.

    We can call this a crossroad in Philippine history… A point in time where we can see the country finally move forward, or just be a happy content people who complain about corruption but aspire to be in government one day to take their turn.

    I do not know if I will see a clean progressive Philippines in my lifetime and I probably have 40years left. I can only wish that it be possible within my children’s lifetime, if not my grandchildren.

    Just as we lost Ninoy in one second, we can lose another chance in this moment. There is little time to waste. Choose your path, and you’ll eventually get what you deserve…

  11. It baffles no end why despite the hard facts presented, still there are people who would say they like Pnoy and his so-called daan matuwid!

  12. he will never be a lame duck, because if we the people put marcos out, we the people have always stood for each of us, then we the people should and always will be standing beside our president if he abolish pdaf. no more forecasting of what will happen but more on what the people want and the people will surely follow… ang tanong susunod ba kayo… baka naman sa halagang limangdaan ay magmartsa na rin kayo sa edsa at patalsikin si pinoy, pasensya na katotohanan lang po… :)

  13. Agree. Without Pork, BS Aquino will be a lame duck President. The past 3 1/2 years proved it. He needs to pay-off those money-hungry Congressmen and Senators to pass very controversial laws, ditto, impeaching Corona for a non-impeachable reason, etc. Should PNoy get rid of Pork of any kind and any name, it will not take very long for these hypocrites in the Lower House and Senate to abandon him. Congressmen and Senators know how performed as he was one of them and pretty sure, they know he lacks the mental faculty and leadership to deserve being in his position today. It is only because of Pork that is why they are loyal to him.

  14. It’s not how much they allocated to the senators. It is what they did to the allocated funds.

  15. Mercedes DC Catiil on

    Why not seek the participation of the barangays to submit their basic needs in the grassroots level then submit to the Local Chief Executives for funding in order for them to scrutinize what they can do in the local level out of their local funds. Anything in excess shall be considered out of the PDAFs of the congressmen in their respective localities and anything in excess thereafter, if any shall be funded by the DBM in the budgets of the departments who shall implement the project. Proper coordination and monitoring should be done by the barangays and report actions taken blow by blow
    to their constituents for purposes of transparency.

  16. Ednar Gempesaw Dayanghirang on

    Lame-duck?

    NO, I believe otherwise because the leadership of PNOY has been anchored on Sincerity, Honesty, Determination, and on the excellent track record of Cory and Ninoy. He was elected not by money politics!

    PNoy’s political leadership is far from the usual patronage politics that requires a lot of PORK!

    • Pitiful! could you try and pls see things in perspective. Not all things in first glance are really what they seem.

  17. i believe that PNoy has a firm stand against graft and corruption. you were blatantly saying in this article that there is no HOPE of change in our system, why? making us Filipinos hopeless and accept the inevitable that the PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT has no future to change. PNoy open our eyes and i believe yours too just don’t slant it. if PNoy will be a lame duck so be it but WILL we ever know that such tons of money vanished if Napoles issue did NOT rise? what will the congressmen do with what PNoy ask them to do? SIMPLE, ask what the FILIPINO needs in a long term productive projects where lives will be change for the better in their District. will that show being a lame duck by PNoy? he did not relinquish the rights of appropriated fund from the congress but gave them the opportunity to CHANGE their ways and really HELP from the said fund. let us think positively on PNoy’s action. may it be a rekindling of HOPE to many Filipinos.

  18. Voice from the Wilderness on

    Its nice that the citizenry is slowly realizing their power to influence or effect major changes in governance in the country as evident by this one million march. In mature democracies, this kind of scandal could instantly shake up a ruling government and pressure those responsible government official to resign or for the opposition party to call for a snap general election. This should happened here but the mechanisms for this to happen is not yet in place as in mature democracies save for the previous experience of people power with the support of the military establishment which could be counterproductive.

  19. marc reed horton on

    yan ang masaklap kase sa pinoy politics you have to kiss your superiors ass ,yung political realities ay tahasang paglabag sa karapatan ng mamamayan…..

  20. Aquino is just outsmarting the people – “Kayo and boss ko”
    Tuwid na daan?
    Sino ang niloloko niya? Enough is enough.
    He did it to Renato Corona. I hope and pray he is next.

  21. dear Mr Tiglao,

    what you write about in your previous column is not new. I knew about it during my adolescent years when circumcision was considered a rite of adulthood passage. Having a boleto was one of the options suggested by the barber performing the circumcision. Or having a hole at the tip of the penis where a pig’s hair or a piece of wood could be inserted later. Another option that you did not mention was the “kinalabaw” or “binalimbing” in which the cut was not only vertically but also horizontally enlarging the head.

    During my university years, I read the chronicles of Antonio de Pigafetta’s of Magellan’s voyage in which he mentioned this practice among the Sugbuhanon and he was even asking for more details.

    The University of California at Berkeley published a monograph on “Palang” that is about that practice prevalent in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, I can’t give you the citation for most of my Filipiniana left by the fire have been donated to a college library in the Philippines.

    Another quaint sexual practice I heard about while growing up was female circumcision. While the are many literature concerning this practice in Africa and among Muslim women, I still have to encounter any literature on Filipino women concerning this practice. I was told by old men that this used to be done also in the Philippines. Some told me that the purpose was to enlarge the vaginal opening so that it would be less painful for the bride on her wedding night.(The idea of a virgin bride is of Spanish origin.) Others who told me that this was done by cutting the clitoris so that the girl will not be sexually active before marriage. Unfortunately my informants were all men. I still have to find a Filipina who could tell me something about this. G -.

  22. renato catalasan on

    Aquino won’t be a lame duck president even after he abolishes the pork barrel. He has the majority support of the nation. He can be the next Lee Kuan Yu ( Singapore ) if you know what I mean.

    • I don’t believe a non performing congressman and a non performing senator of his time and became an accidental president with an IQ of 80 could became a Lee Kuan.look at hs performance,they didn’t even know how to do a big time project.

    • si lee kuan yu, ay masipag at matalino. but your pnoy, i’m sorry…malayo!
      a) no major infra ever started nor accomplished b) smuggling increases tenfold in the last three years and counting c) hunger keeps on growing despite economic growth d) pork barrel (pdaf) of pnoy and congress men and women increases several folds in the last three years d) poverty in country sides increases despite huge cct e) crimes and drugs never abated f) npa is growing in numbers an getting bold g) gulo sa mindanao h) erosion of deplomatic relationship with neighbors and many more…these are facts!

  23. the analysis of Mr. TIglao is very true… noticed the 2010 – 2013 and the coming year 2014 national budget has doubled even tripled tremendously compared to PGMA national budget. despite PNOY announcement of transparency and accountability during his presidential campaign government funded project and transactions remains cloudy. Even the FOI Bill is still in limbo because it’s not a priority bill for PNOY and his allies to cover-up for anomalous transactions. Even audit report of COA is selective since the COA report covers only 2007 – 2009, what about 2010 – 2013 COA report the billions up to trillions of pesos of people’s money until now has no audit report. now that P10 billion pork barrel scam surfaced PNOY was still adamant to abolish pork barrel until the million people march to Luneta came out that forced PNOY to announce he agree for the abolition of pork barrel again it was not abolition only change of name but still pork barrel. the people. I am an OFW that supports majority calls to abolish pork barrel system and to pass FOI Bill into law.

    • His analysis is true but he is a hypocrite at best still clutching to the belief that his boss president gma was the saviour of the Philippines..he has a revenge agenda making all his articles on Pnoy suspect, biased and unethical

    • your point is valid, but how do you expect the FOI bill to be passed if majority of the congress does not want the PDAF to be totally scrapped? unless you declare martial law or you let the communists take over the country there is no REALISTIC way you can control or influence congress..

    • jose acelajado on

      A Big No! Pnoy will not be a lameduck,… because has the full support of the people with fight against corruption and with his Tuwid na Daan,.. he don’t need those whose only interest is these pork funds,… (:D)

    • Ay nko… Sana LNG Malaman din natin San ba at mag kanu ba ang naging pork Ni noynoy ng NSA congress at ng NASA Senado pa sya… At ngayun pangulo na sya.. Ang gagaling mg salita Kung mag magmalinis Wagas..ngayun sila mismo ang na bi biktima ng sarili nilang istorya para Lang ipa mukha na NSA Tuwid na daan sila .. Abad, soliman, Ochoa aside sa pagiging taohan Ni noynoy…sana Malaman din ng Taong bayan anu ba talaga negosyo nyo… At Sino Sino sa mga kamag anak nyo ang congressman sa ngayun sa panahon Ni noynoy ?

    • Mr. Tiglao, are you also trying to pin down the president just like what others are doing in order to gain attention and have your name be known.? why are you predicting or otherwise warping the outcome of what is inevitable? If all of us wants a change in our corroding system, we must allow the new system in whatever form it may be, do some trial and error if necessary.

      Like a simple system replacement on how the fund should be properly capitalized. A project necessary for economic and livelihood improvement will certainly need funds in order to take its effect. Congressmen and Senators are lawmakers. They are not suppose to be doing monetary negotiations, They should be doing the Laws and ensure that Laws are met in developing such Projects. Nationwide projects should be analyzed, budgeted, implemented and maintained by the legislative or government department, bureaus , ministry or whatever we may call it. Then comes the DBM and COA to monitor comprehensive weekly report to be submitted to the President and the broadcast and media relations in compliance with the FOI Bill, which will require weekend broadcast of development reports to be aired simultaneosly over television and live streaming, also to be published on government website and municipal journals for those who do not have enough television and internet access.

      Don’t you think this is a better way of implementing a new system?