Aquino’s pork chopBy Antonio Montalvan II |Philippine Daily Inquirer
When Filipinos make a spoof of reality, it is also to find relief from the stress of thwarted expectations. Today is the day of the firestorm. Today is the day for the Million People March. And to Luneta it will not only be. As we write, several of our countrymen in provincial urban centers are preparing as well for mass mobilization. Gatherings of kindred goal will be taking place around the world, with our overseas Filipino workers in the frontline. Never before since the Marcos dictatorship has been there such an epic expression of indignation against government by its own citizens on a worldwide scale.
This is a day of history. For President Aquino, it is his “make-or-break day.” But as hinted by his announcement last Friday, he has chosen to trivialize the nation’s indignation. Flanked by two of his top lieutenants, the newly installed Senate President Frank Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, who themselves are not strangers to the taste of pork, the President has chosen, from all the options available to a head of government, to use double-speak. He said he will abolish the pork barrel, but that he will reprogram it—meaning, he is not abolishing it. The bumpiest stretch of daang matuwid has just begun.
Janet Lim-Napoles is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. The iceberg’s bigger mass—in fact, the biggest pork barrel of them all—which lies beneath, mostly out of public sight, like the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), also goes by a special name and an acronym. It is called SPF or the Special Purpose Fund. The PDAF for 2014 is only P25.24 billion as against the SPF, the pork barrel of the president, which is a whopping P449.95 billion. That is about one-fifth of the entire national budget. No wonder it has been called the “bigger monster” by Leonor Briones.
As our legs are being pulled, we fume even more with seething anger. Under Mr. Aquino, the pork has become even fatter. That goes true as well for his share of the pork—increasing by P44.6 billion in just two years. And we thought Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has always been the problem. What hypocrisy!
President Aquino is a zealous man. He has the zeal to prosecute Arroyo. He had the zeal to prosecute Renato Corona. He had the zeal to push for the Reproductive Health Law in the face of stiff opposition. But he does not have as much zeal to truly abolish the pork barrel, much less not to dangle his own pork as legislative enticement. For didn’t he successfully entice Congress to pass the RH Law by greasing the yes votes with his pork lard? No wonder our country is poor because of corruption and not because of too many babies.
No, we are not the bosses of this President. The bosses have spoken. But the employee has chosen to defy what they want. There is one trait of the Filipino. The more fun he makes, the deeper he drives home the point. Today is also a day of wit and humor but not for comic relief. By laughing, the Filipino laughs more at government and the more government becomes a laughingstock. By trivializing the people, government becomes more trivialized.
Today then we laugh, the laughter spurred by the creativity of the Filipino to bring home the message to a presidential palace whose occupant has started to forget who put him there in the first place. Mr. Aquino said he will only reprogram the pork barrel. As tradition goes, we can be sure it will just assume another name. From Countrywide Development Fund to PDAF, Malacañang can take a pick from the suggestions of Filipino netizens:
Budgetary Allocation for Collaborative Outreach Nationwide (Bacon), Lawmakers Initiative for Emergency, Miscellaneous and Personal Outlay (Liempo), Livelihood Empowerment for Countrywide Humanitarian Outlaw Network (Lechon), Pinagandang Iligal na Gastusin (Pig), National Assistance Program of Lawmakers Engaged in Swindling (Napoles), Holistic Lawmaking for Development of All Filipinos (Holdaf), Selective Enforcement of Budgetary Outlays (Sebo), Government Outlay Line-itemized and Appropriated Yearly (Golay), Bridges, Excavations & Elevated Roads Fund (Beef), Countrywide Allocations With Accountability and Transparency (Cawat), National Allotment for Countryside Amelioration and Welfare (Nacaw), P-Noy’s Initiative for Good Governance Countrywide (Piggy), Budget for Allies for Continuation of Party Dominance (Bacon-PD), Hearty Allocation of Money (Ham), Benigno Aquino Development Assistance Fund (Badaf), Countrywide Outreach and Rehabilitation Assistance Fund (Coraf), BSA’s Awesome Budget for Outstanding Allies of the Year (Baboy), Horrifyingly Unlimited Money for Belmonte, Aquino and Allies (Humba), P-Noy’s Allowance and Treasury Allocation (Pata), Social Initiative for Service in Governance (Sisig), President’s Overt Revenue Kickback (Pork), President’s Outlay for Countrywide Handling of Emergency Rehabilitation for Opulence (Pochero), Legislative Allocation for Reform and Development (Lard), Barangay Initiatives for New Allocations Granting Oversight On Non-Government Associations Nationwide (Binagoongan), Presidential Oversight for Relatives and Kin with Budgetary Entitlement from Legislative Largesse Yearly (Pork Belly), National Allotment for Countrywide Amelioration and Welfare Initiative Fund (Nacawin Fund).
It’s just changing the fare from lechon to crispy pata. And “Crispy Pata” is Countrywide Re-distribution of the Inherent Source of Patronage for the Yellow President’s Allies, Toads and Associates. I say Oink (Outlay for the Interest of Noynoy and Kinfolks) to that.
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