As I See It

Pork also making us a nation of mendicants


It has turned out that not only members of Congress and the incumbent president have pork barrel funds but also Cabinet members. At least one congressman, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali of the Liberal Party (LP), has admitted that he got P10 million from the pork of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and allocated it to a bogus nongovernment organization (NGO) owned by pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles. Instead of a congressman allocating his Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF (the camouflage for the pork barrel) to an executive department, it is now the Cabinet member, Alcala, allocating funds to a congressman.

Farmers are so short of support services (e.g., farm-to-market roads, palay dryers, and warehouses within which rice grains can be stored to protect them from rats and other pests) that they cannot produce enough rice for our needs. But here was Alcala allocating “priority development funds” for farmers to a congressman who then allocated it to a Napoles NGO and, from there, to Napoles’ bathtub and then to her bank accounts.

Why does Alcala have a P1.67-billion budget that he can allocate to lawmakers and other government officials of his choice? Imagine what P1.67 billion can do to help farmers? But that money is helping only lawmakers and Napoles.

Obviously, that fund is being used by Alcala to curry favor with lawmakers and other public officials. Why does he have to do that? Is it to make sure that he would not be removed from his position? But the best gauge that Alcala is fit for the agriculture portfolio is his performance in making the agriculture sector produce enough for the nation. Alas, he is failing in that.

In fact, there is now a rice shortage and prices have increased drastically, bringing untold hardships to our people. Alcala claims there is no shortage and blames the rice traders for the price increases. If there is enough rice, where is it?

Hoarders, claims Alcala. Easy to say that. If you hoard rice too long, pests feast on it, the quality suffers, and you lose money on it.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has confiscated tons and tons of rice recently. It could have sold the rice to the National Food Authority (NFA) to replenish its stocks. But no, the BOC sold it at public auctions and the smugglers probably won the bidding. So the rice is back in the hands of smugglers. That is why smuggling has become a lucrative industry in the Philippines. If you are caught, you can get back your smuggled goods through public auctions.

Meanwhile, NFA has to import rice. And aside from the purchase price, it has to pay for shipping costs. So the cost of NFA rice rises, and NFA fails in its responsibility to have enough stocks to stabilize prices.

Had the smuggled rice been sold to it, NFA would not have to pay shipping costs because the rice is already here, and NFA can therefore sell it cheaper to consumers.

* * *

Although a majority of senators (16) are already in favor of abolishing the pork barrel and the House of Representatives is circulating a statement asking the appropriations committee to delete the P25-billion appropriation for the PDAF, some congressmen are still fighting tooth and nail to retain their pork.

They claim that the pork has been helping their constituents by giving them scholarships and medical assistance. That may be true, but that is only a very small portion of the pork. The biggest portion goes to the pockets of lawmakers and to the bogus NGOs of Napoles.

The reason the pork barrel should be abolished is, it breeds corruption. It corrupts not only the lawmakers, officials and employees of agencies under the executive department and people like Napoles, but also a lot of others in even the private sector. Private contractors, the treasurers and cashiers who release the checks and funds, heads of agencies who sign the checks and release orders, chiefs of staff, secretaries and clerks are also corrupted.

There are government offices that handle scholarships and medical assistance, like the Department of Education and the Department of Health, and government hospitals. Why not give the funds directly to them instead of coursing the money through lawmakers?

But not the way the plotters in the House of Representatives want it. The move of the congressmen is to assuage the anger of the people but they would want to still retain their pork in a disguised form. The P25-billion pork barrel would be distributed to different government agencies but it would be reserved for projects to be chosen by the lawmakers. The lawmakers will have the right to recommend the use of these funds by their constituents. That is still pork barrel in disguise.

By all means, distribute the P25 billion to different government agencies but let them determine who or what entity should get a share of it based on merit, not just because lawmakers recommended them.

Why do lawmakers want that they themselves would be the ones to hand out doles to their constituents? Because that is a form of vote-buying. They expect the beneficiaries to vote for them during elections.

And that practice makes mendicants of our people. People run to politicians for alms at every excuse. They show dog-eared doctor prescriptions for medicines, death certificates for relatives (some beggars have relatives dying every month). They run to politicians for financial help during weddings, baptisms and birthdays. The begging has become a mild form of extortion. The politicians know that if they refuse to give money to constituents, not only will they lose votes, their rivals will get more support.

If we do not stop this practice, we will become a nation of mendicants.

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  • clanwolf

    yup. like Batanes. it got large pork allocations due to Abad. its pork is larger than the city of Davao, all districts.

  • Eustaquio Joven

    Pork barrel = 9Ys (dynastY, povertY, mendicancY, impunitY, immoralitY, miserY, gluttonY, criminalitY, anarchY) Solution/remedy lies in the hands of one Y. CitizenrY. What kind?

    • AlzheimersC

      Korek! kung mahusay rin sana magmatyag ang citizenry….alam natin na 70 million ang alloted PDAF ng mga congressman…so kung marunong tayo ng “post-auditing” malamang nakikita natin “visibly” ang mga pinagkagastusan ng PDAF lalo na kung mga hard projects ito.

      Kung WALA at intact ang 70 million, ibig sabihin tamad ang Congressman natin…at kung wala ng natira sa pondo pero wala pa rin tayong nakikitang projects…malamang naibulsa na ang PDAF!

      So kung tatanggalin ang ganitong sistema, sana magkaroon naman ng mas mahusay na transparency sa paggastos ng pera…MAY NAISIP NA BA KAYO?

  • Mang Teban

    Garapal talaga itong administrasyon na ito. Subalit marami pa ring patuloy na umaasa sa wala. Ginigisa na nga tayo sa sariling mantika, marami pa ring nagbulag-bulagan at nagbibingi-bingihan.

  • kurakot

    Kabayan huwag ka nalang umuwi sa atin. Magiging kahiyahiya kami kung uuwi kapa. Noong panahon ng tatay mo may kasabihan sa atin na mabuti pang pumatay kaysa magnakaw sa kapwa mo. Hindi ka na maituturing na Kabitenyo ngayon.

  • Pangasugan

    You got it Neal. Most of our people are simply relying the gov’t to better their lives. Every new president is a cause for hope of most people when in reality it’s themselves that must act if they want to improve their lot.
    The problem is no leader has tried to educate the people that the problem is not the government but themselves for the simple reason that this is not a popular move. We always try to pander with the idea that if only the government will improve, all people will have jobs and poverty will be eradicated.
    Most Filipinos are lazy and irresponsible – that’s the root cause of massive poverty.

    • AlzheimersC

      Dapat lahat nga kumilos, dahil ano rin ang silbi ng gobyerno kung hindi rin para sa kapakinabangan ng lahat?

      Paano nga ba itinatag ang gobyerno ha?

    • $14141131

      I think its the government that creates the situation wherein poor people would go mendicants simply for politics. Instead of spending the billions of foreign loans that the taxpayers will be saddled paying, the amount could be better used as stimulus fund for the establishment of factories for agricultural machineries like tractors, shipbuilding to modernize the fishing industry, expansion and improvement of the national railway system to ease transport and freight, and to generate power particularly in the brownout agonizing Mindanao. But Nhoying chose to dole the money out through the corruption-friendly CCT increasing the mendicancy culture. P21 billion last year and P45 billion this year. That’s a lot of money for the economic stimulus that can create jobs. People don’t need dole-outs, they need jobs, jobs and jobs. With the MNLF problem, who would be the crazy investor to drop capital in Mindanao and make employment?

      • Pangasugan

        I agree with you on that. The small revenue that that government can collect from the people who are not really keen on paying their taxes would be better spent on infrastructure/stimulus packages that could boost economy. This, however, will not endear the gov’t to the many voters who are poor and the effect would be latent and might not immediately be used by the administration to boost up its image.
        This country needs a leader who will think long term and can look at the big picture how infrastructure investment will ultimately benefit the poor.

  • AlzheimersC

    Sabihin na natin na ginamit ni Pnoy ang PDAF to get what he need(kasi puro walang konsensiya ang mga legislators natin, DAW?)

    Ang kaibahan nga lang,

    Ginamit ni Pnoy ang PDAF para patalsikin ang kurap na si Corona(wala namang akusasyon na kurap si Pnoy)

    Samantalang ginamit ni GMA ang PDAF para huwag patalsikin sa pwesto ang kurap at illegal(syempre siya)…haha

  • pipsirho

    Kailangang ng UTAK sa PAGBALANGKAS ng BATAS . . . ang WALANG UTAK ay ANGKAS lang sa PORK BARREL!!!

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