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Commentary

Signature campaign vs pork

/ 09:09 PM August 26, 2013

The Philippine pork barrel is the mother of all corruption. It is massive corruption at the very top. The Commission on Audit (COA) reports that 12 senators and 180 congressmen funneled through the Department of Budget Management P6.2 billion to 82 questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009. Ten of these NGOs are linked to Janet Lim-Napoles, who is the subject of a warrant of arrest and is in hiding.

This is the tip of the iceberg. Together with unreported data beyond 2009, the total may easily exceed P10 billion. What was entrusted to senators and congressmen to serve and uplift the Filipino people has been used to perpetuate a few in power, enrich themselves and impoverish the common Filipino. Vested interests reign in our government. Bad governance can actually ultimately undermine our entire democratic process, so it is urgent to put an end to this, before anarchy reigns.

President Aquino has the power to abolish the pork barrel because it is a budget item of the executive branch. There is no need for congressional approval or for an amendment to law; this is the common opinion of many lawyers, lawmakers, and former justices. But why is he not doing it? Is he under extreme pressure from his constituents? He promised to fight corruption. This is his chance. What is his real stand? Observers say his inner circle actually dictates his policy and runs the government, just like the Pentagon-Wall Street partnership which, critics say, runs Barack Obama, the White House and the US government, and formulates foreign policy. Who is running President Aquino—himself or his inner circle?

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Aside from yesterday’s rally at Luneta, a signature campaign on the Internet has been started to pressure President Aquino to abolish the pork barrel. The target is five million signatures worldwide. If a critical mass is achieved in this signature campaign, it may very well make Mr. Aquino listen to the voice of the Filipino people, supported by non-Filipinos worldwide.

If readers are interested to sign up, it is easy. Just click or control+click this link:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/ABOLISH_PHILIPPINE_PORK_BARREL/. A window will appear and you can sign up in just a few seconds. Please pass this link to your friends, post it on Facebook and Twitter, blast it across cyberspace. Let the voice of the Filipino people be heard, with the support of non-Filipino allies worldwide.

There are deep tremors presently on the Internet, with a lot of angry e-mails screaming for blood against lawmakers gone astray. There is a Darwinian photo of a caveman evolving into a man-ape evolving into homo erectus evolving into an obese man evolving into a pig. The proper caption would be “Darwin’s theory of regression.” There is a photo of Napoles in the company of lawmakers. She has been labeled as “na pulis.” There is a 15-page collection of anonymous blog posts, which one has to be careful about, as they may contain unverified information. The blogs dangerously name names in high places, who need to do some explaining. The Internet is buzzing wildly and many keyboards are on fire.

Will we replicate Edsa I once more? Is People Power again rearing its head, evolving into the monster that ousted Marcos?

Some argue that not all of the pork goes into the pockets of traditional politicians. There are some good things coming out also from the pork barrel. True, but the problem is the ratio. Is 10 percent good and 90 percent bad? Some say it is a 3-97 ratio. How much really has been the impact of the pork on the development of the common Filipino and the upliftment of the poor? Senators “invest” in expensive election campaigns because they know they will get back their “investments” 10- to 20-fold through the pork. This kind of “political enterprise” is not acceptable because it serves vested interests.

Right now the pork barrel addicts are forming the P2.3-trillion budget for 2014. We have to abolish the pork before they start lining up their pockets once again with it. The rally in Luneta plus the Internet signature campaign, plus the media blitz, should be able to abolish the pork before the pigs start feeding themselves again. A total of P2.5 billion in pork per annum is perhaps enough to cover 100,000 scholarships.

Bernie Lopez (eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com) has been writing political commentaries for the last 20 years. He is also a radio-TV broadcaster.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Bernie Lopez, column, corruption, edsa people power revolt, internet, pork barrel, signature campaign
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