The 10-Billion-Peso Question: Is It Time To Abolish The Pork Barrel?

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 The cat is finally out of the bag and its own shit hit the fan!

Damn it, it’s not just a nasty, fishy-smelling pussycat, but a ravenous  monster of a SCAM that illegally duped the government coffers almost 10 Billion Pesos in as many years.

Let me say it again in case you can’t believe what you’ve just read – 10 f*ckin’ BILLION PESOS, in taxpayer’s money, yours and mine.

Well, it’s all over the news lately and while we are not entirely surprise of its existence due to our inherent history of corruption in the government,  yet people’s reaction are a mix of disdain, anger and contempt because of the hefty sum of money and personalities involved.

According to a series of investigative reports from Philippine Daily Inquirer, the NBI had been investigating an allegations that the government has been defrauded of the said amount of money over the past ten years by a syndicate using the PDAF, otherwise known as ‘pork barrels ‘, of senators and congressman to fund anomalous and ghost projects.

The National Bureau of Investigation identified the JLN Group of Companies, owned and headed by a certain Janet Lim-Napoles, as the one behind these alleged rackets in complicity with local officials and legislators and had gotten away with it because of Napoles’ extensive connection in the government.

The scam looked quite simple but generates a lot of money both for Napoles and the involved lawmakers.

Using bogus and dummy companies set up by JLN, funds would then be requested from preidentified sources (like senators ,congressman and local government officials) with a promise of commissions or kickbacks. If the source agreed, money will be released by the DBM as authorized by the sources and funneled to a bank account opened by JLN. Napoles’ company will then withdraw the money from the banks and split it between her and the source of money. (To read more of this, please follow the links below this article)

These money were made to appear to have funded the delivery of services to certain agencies that supposedly help the plight of our poor countrymen.

phot credit: newsinfo.inquirer.net

Identified among those linked to this scam are Sen. Bong Revilla, Sen. Enrile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, Sen. Gringo Honasan and some other 23 congressman. Each have allegedly allowed the use of their PDAF to the scheme more than once.

All through the years, the government and its critics had been beset (and were often at odds) with the question whether pork barrels of lawmakers do really served its actual purpose – to appropriate government spending for localized project secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.  Or whether it didn’t and therefore needs to be scrapped for good.

Senators and congressman are supposed to be legislators whose primary responsibility is to legislate laws and statutes, and not to build basketball courts, waiting sheds, substandard farm-to-market roads and school buildings.

We already have government agencies and institutions tasked to look after the delivery of these services and these legislators are just duplicating their duties which are utterly unnecessary.

But why does every administrations and politicians seemed to turn deaf and blind to these glaring facts before them  and prefer to look the other way?

Even a dumb 6-year old moron knows the answer to this.

Priority Development Assitance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel is the main source of income for most politicians, and thus, became an inevitable tool for corruption.  Each senator has 200M pesos as PDAF every year, while congressmen are given 70M pesos .

I don’t personally believe that any of them will admit that they   look at this money as a personal reward for being elected to office with an excuse, of course, as having it necessary in the assistance of their constituents’ needs.

And even if there are some (fingers crossed) whose intentions are honest and decent, they are ultimately corrupted because of the system and the prevailing culture of politics.

People would often go to their congressman, mayors or even senators to seek financial help. C’mon, their salaries are not even enough to support their own lifestyles (and the caprices of their mistresses), how would you expect them to spend for everyman’s medicine, hospital bills and funeral services?

It is this very predicament that befell  these politicians and drove them to fend for assistance from the government in the guise of pork barrels in order to beautify their image and popularity, otherwise they will be branded as a useless public servant and suffer defeat and disgrace in elections.

And in the process, the culture of corruption sets in. Projects will be overpriced so as to get more commissions. Services which are supposed to be delivered to the common folks are diverted for the same reason and motivation – to have more money to advance their political influence and pepetuate in power.

The longer they stay there, the more money they will get.

And we are also aware that pork barrels are being used by all sitting president both as a bargaining tool and a leverage to get support from both houses of congress thus resulting to political patronage anchored only on the interest of each own, at the expense of the taxpayers.

That’s why all administrations are against the scrapping of this, as they will lose an ace when it is necessary to lay cards on the table of political games.

And now because of the recent scandal that rocked the congress, we all came back again to the same and all-too familiar question of whether it is hightime to abolish this pork barrel.

I think so, YES, if you might ask me.

But it doesn’t end there. We must also change the common notions among us that politicians are always there to provide for our needs even, the smallest ones. It may be true to some extent, but they are also there to serve the interest of our country and it doesn’t always mean serving each and every one of us in minute details.

Nevertheless, I still think so, YES.

Sources:

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/444693/28-solons-linked-to-scam

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/444275/how-p10-b-racket-works

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