Headline: (Janet Lim-) Napoles owns 28 houses (in the Philippines).
Wrong. She owns 30, including the “Upper House” (Senate) and the House of Representatives.
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One Luis Abalos, who is neither a senator nor a congressman, got P20 million in pork barrel funds.
Are you still surprised? Janet Lim-Napoles, who is also not a senator or a congresswoman, got P10 billion in pork.
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Former representative Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora of Compostela, hailed in the past as the “poorest congressman,” could turn out to be one of the richest. According to the Commission on Audit (COA), he received P3.114 billion in pork allocations in his last three years in Congress. He couldn’t explain how and why he could have gotten that much, saying his total allocation for those three years was only P210 million.
Possible explanation: Somebody else got the money but recorded it in his name.
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It’s turning out that one of the biggest culprits in the pork barrel scams that involve bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) is the Department of Budget and Management. Through the years, the department has been playing fast and loose with the people’s money. It was so easy to get the DBM to release funds for fake NGOs. All that Napoles’ employees had to do was call Leah, Lalaine and Malou at the DBM and the pork barrel funds would be released quickly, according to whistle-blowers Benhur K. Luy and Merlina Suñas.
Confronted with the COA findings that the DBM released pork funds to individual congressmen in excess of the P70-million-a-year limit for each, Rep. Rolando Andaya, the budget secretary during the Arroyo administration, said there was no limit to the pork barrel allocations at the time. Which means, the pork scam may be much, much bigger than the P10-billion loot that Napoles’ bogus NGOs got, considering that the COA audited only three years of pork releases, during which it discovered other bogus NGOs that got bigger pork allocations than Napoles’ NGOs.
On the other hand, President Aquino’s budget secretary, former representative Florencio Abad, increased the pork barrel budget instead of decreasing it in the wake of the people’s strong clamor for the abolition of the pork barrel system, through which their tax money is being stolen by legislators and their cohorts.
The other big culprit is the President himself. In spite of the anger of the people, his boss, over the pork scams and their clamor to end the thievery by abolishing the system, he wouldn’t stop it although he has the power to do it. It is P-Noy who can quickly abolish the corrupt system, not Congress. Members of Congress will never abolish the system with which they fatten themselves. Even if they are forced to pass a law abolishing it, they would so dilute it with so many amendments, it would be next to useless. The corruption will continue.
On the other hand, all that P-Noy has to do is tell his budget secretary not to include any appropriation for the pork barrel, officially called the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), in the proposed national budget, and that would be the end of it. It’s that easy. Much as it wants to, Congress cannot put it there. Congress can only reduce or abolish proposed budgets but never add to what Malacañang submits to it.
But the DBM has already submitted its proposed budget for 2014, you say. It can always recall that one and submit a new one.
P-Noy’s retort—that “stricter” rules will be put in place—will not end the large-scale theft of the people’s money. The crooks will always find ways to get around the rules. Credit it to the ingenuity of Philippine public officials when it comes to getting their filthy hands
into the Treasury. There will always be other Leahs, Lalaines, and Malous in the DBM.
“Kayo ang boss ko” (You are my bosses),
P-Noy told the people during his first State of the Nation Address. Now his bosses are telling him: “Stop the thievery! Abolish the pork barrel system.” Why is he not obeying his bosses?
Because P-Noy might also be guilty of another crime: bribery. Most contemporary presidents, P-Noy included (there was no pork barrel earlier in our republic; the pork is a fairly recent invention of politicians), used the pork barrel to bribe members of Congress. And cooperative legislators got their pork promptly; uncooperative ones didn’t.
P-Noy may also be afraid that if he abolishes their pork, angry legislators might get back and reduce, even abolish his own pork barrel, the biggest in the national budget.
P-Noy declared a policy of “daang matuwid” (straight, corruption-free road) for his administration, but this straight road is turning out to be a crooked one, where so many crooks are stealing the people’s money.
P-Noy’s bosses are so angry at the corruption that some sectors are threatening a tax revolt if the pork system is not abolished. Why pay taxes when they are stolen by crooks in and out of the government? Taxes are supposed to be returned to the people in the form of services, but they only serve the corrupt. Only the thieves are being assisted by the PDAF.
Members of the clergy, university professors, the youth, people in rural areas, people in cities, even some legislators are angry. They are all begging: “Please, Mr. President, abolish the hated pork barrel.”
Whenever people get together—at parties, wakes, weddings, family gatherings, school reunions, press forums, meetings, etc.—they talk about the pork barrel scams and Napoles. Even taxi and jeepney drivers talk about them. If Napoles were to run for election, she might just win. After all, she is now so well-known, besides having plenty of money.
I am sure that when the next poll survey results are released, P-Noy’s popularity rating will have dropped drastically.