Endless could haves, should haves, would havesBy Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The stolen billions could have been spent for this … and that. Millions of poor people could have benefited … countless lives would have been improved, etc. Instead, the money went to the pockets of a few greedy individuals.
The should haves, could haves and would haves are endless.
And now we are not surprised that the waylaid P10 billion is just the tip of the iceberg. More pork barrel-“ghost NGOs” tie-ups are being uncovered.
The pork barrel scam has emboldened many to publicly air their grievances through statements, letters and songs. And rallies, too, such as the ones last Aug. 26. People condemn, question, protest, challenge and offer suggestions. The common refrain is: THIS MUST STOP. The guilty must be punished, severely punished.
Through e-mail come statements and letters that stress the countless benefits the billions of pesos could have produced if only these were not “creatively” stolen. But they also come with suggestions and questions on why this blockbuster scam went on for so long.
The EcoWaste Coalition is quite specific: The P10-billion squandered public funds could have funded:
1. One million whole-day training activities on ecological solid waste management involving 50 million people at P10,000/50-person activity covering meals, hand-outs, speakers’ honoraria and other basic incidental expenses.
2. One million to 2 million materials recovery facilities (MRFs) at P5,000-P10,000/facility for rural barangay; and 20,000 to 200,000 MRFs at P50,000-P500,000/facility for urban barangays; MRFs serve as depositories for segregated discards that can be reused, recycled or composted to minimize the volume of trash sent to residual waste landfill.
3. Twenty-two thousand two hundred twenty-two biodegradables shredder (7 hp, 1.5 tons/hour) costing P450,000/machine to cut up garden or farm waste and other organics into small pieces to speed up the composting process.
4. Around 2.8 million sewing machines at P3,500/unit that community women can use to make reusable bags from fabrics, doy packs, flour and rice sacks and other materials.
5. Around 1.5 million pedicabs at P6,500/unit or 2,857,142 wooden carts at P3,500/cart that itinerant waste recyclers can use for “bote-dyaryo” business.
6. Sixty-six thousand six hundred sixty-six junk shops that will ideally need a start-up capital of P150,000.
7. Two million low-interest loans at P5,000/person that will enable waste pickers to venture into micro-enterprises to augment their incomes.
From Marcelo Tecson: “May I know why the Commission on Audit (COA) condoned and did not stop, all these years, the channeling of pork barrel funds to nongovernment organizations (NGOs), as conduit in project implementation, when this scheme is clearly not right?
“Why didn’t COA exercise its veto power over executive and legislative officials on the fallacious pork barrel scheme that utilized NGOs as conduit, when it craftily served as subterfuge or subtle means of evading public bidding in multi-billion-peso purchases handled by NGOs, which do not follow government rules in disbursing public funds entrusted to them? The public bidding requirement attaches to pork barrel fund wherever it is spent by virtue of its being public fund or taxpayers’ money—and its passing through NGOs in its spending did not exempt it from required public bidding under the Procurement Law. As can be seen, when the illegal scheme was exposed, some lawmakers expressed their agreement to the exclusion of NGOs in project implementation—which means that had COA properly exercised its veto power in the past, it could have prevailed and the scam could have been prevented.”
From Malou Mangahas of Right to Know Right Now Coalition: “Now more than ever, we are convinced of the urgency to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. We reiterate our resolve to fight, alongside legislators who are showing independence and similar commitment, for the passage of an effective and empowering FOI law. This is our contribution to the various citizens’ initiatives to push for the accountability of all those involved in the plunder, and to finally put a stop to the budget scams, whether in PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) or elsewhere, that have bled our public resources.”
From Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona of Caceres: “Demand for a speedy and fair investigation of those who misuse public funds. The lawful conviction of those guilty will signal the commitment of our government to truth and justice.
“Demand transparency and accountability from our political leaders. Push for the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill as it will provide the structure for the public to have greater access to data on government spending.”
From Fr. Bert Alejo of Ateneo de Zamboanga University: “I wish seminarians and priests may also undergo serious soul-searching. Where did we go wrong? How can we care enough? To what extent are we part of the problem? And how can we grow to become part of the solution? I remember a quote from Bishop Francisco Claver, SJ, whom I greatly admire: ‘We are not at the bottom of the list of the most corrupt nations in the world, but we’re close. It should be our deepest shame as a nation…. We pride ourselves in being a Christian people, yet we haven’t been able to do anything much about the deep-seated corruption in public life that not only makes us a laughingstock of the world but, worse, is one of the causes of the abject poverty that many of our people suffer from…’”
I say: “No mercy.” This big-scale plunder is tantamount to murder because it caused the deaths of countless poor Filipinos who had cried out for food, water, medicines and shelter. In vain were their pleas.
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