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09:46 PM September 15th, 2013

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By: Neal H. Cruz, September 15th, 2013 09:46 PM

Do you know that Quezon City councilors have their own pork barrel, P40 million a year for each of them? There are 36 QC councilors. Multiply that by P40 million, and that would be a whopping P1.4 billion a year! Wow! See what the evil congressional pork barrel has done? The rot has spread, and is still spreading like a malignant tumor to other public officials. Now even barangay officials in QC are demanding their own pork.

The P40-million pork per councilor was given in the past administration. It is more than that now because the amount is a percentage of the city’s income. The bigger the income, the bigger the pork. That is why the new councilors, as soon as they came into power, added a 5-percent “housing tax” to the regular real estate tax. Easily, that’s several billion pesos in additional income for the city government, meaning, the councilors’ pork has also increased.

The additional 5-percent housing tax is supposed to be for the construction of housing projects for squatters, but three years have gone by and there is no mass housing for QC’s squatters. Where is all that money going? Obviously to the councilors, at least a part of it.

Although the additional tax is an additional burden to them, QC property owners pay the tax through the nose, thinking that with mass housing for squatters, their properties would be freed from the grip of squatters who have effectively stolen them. They thought wrong. The term of the current officials will end in less than three years and not a single hollow block of the mass housing project has been put in place. I ask again, what are they doing with all that money?

Worse, while City Hall is very slow in giving back the services that taxpayers ought to get in exchange for the taxes they pay—such as protecting their properties from illegal settlers—it is very quick in seizing and selling at public auctions properties that are delinquent in real estate tax payments. Curiously, the same group of buyers keeps winning in these auctions. They seem to have advance knowledge of the auctions. Not surprising, since they have been seen to be very chummy with top QC officials in control of the auctions.

City Hall is quick in seizing and selling at auctions the parks in private subdivisions. While it is the developers who are delinquent in the payment of real estate taxes, City Hall goes after the homeowners in the subdivisions, knowing that they have no chance in hell of paying the tens or hundreds of millions of real estates taxes that the developers did not pay through the years.

Not only that, City Hall lets the delinquency of the developers accumulate to tens or hundreds of millions of pesos without letting the homeowners know. Then suddenly, a buyer will turn up and tell the homeowners’ association that he has bought the subdivision’s park and will subdivide it into lots and sell them.

Under the law, the owner has one year to redeem the property sold at public auction. But how can an association of middle class homeowners pay for hundreds of millions of pesos in real estate taxes that a subdivision developer failed to pay? If a “Janet Lim-Napoles” is a homeowner in the village, maybe they can, but how many subdivisions can have a Janet Lim-Napoles in their midst? I advise all homeowners’ associations to inquire at City Hall if their developer is paying real estate taxes on their open spaces.

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Back to the P40-million pork barrel of each QC councilor. What are the councilors doing with all that money? The districts of every councilor are small and already developed. And we see no projects at all except the “road reblocking” by contractors of the Department of Public Works and Highways, which consists of tearing up the concrete of newly constructed streets and then pouring more concrete into the holes. Then an inch-thick layer of asphalt is laid over the concrete. The asphalt easily peels off with one heavy rain and flood, necessitating another multimillion-peso project for the contractor. The work never ends; the financial

hemorrhage never ends, the taxpayers keep bleeding. On the other hand, the contractors and their partners in the DPWH keep laughing all the way to their banks.

Those road reblocking works are paid for by the DPWH, not by the district congressman nor councilor. So back to the question: What are the councilors doing with the

P40-million pork for each of them every year? Is that fund being audited by the Commission on Audit (COA)? A special audit should be done by the COA, not by the internal auditors.  The internal auditors usually share in the spoils. If the city council or the board of directors of a government corporation give themselves new cars paid for by taxpayers, internal auditors also get cars. COA should make a lifestyle check on their auditors.

In the past, the councilors’ pork went to waiting sheds with the name of the councilor painted in big, bold letters on the roof of the shed. Or to the concrete pillars at the boundary of each district, with the name of the councilor carved in concrete as if it were the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses.

The pork also went to basketball courts erected in the middle of streets. And to barangay halls erected on sidewalks, thus denying pedestrians sidewalks to walk on.  And to epals, those posters and tarpaulins with the names of councilors on them,  greeting the people with “Happy Fiesta” and “Congratulations graduates” and “Happy Birthday Ka Erdie.” With Christmas fast approaching, expect a flood of “Merry Christmas” greetings, from councilors, to pollute our streets again. All those  epals  are paid for with taxpayers’ money, not by the councilors whose names are advertised.

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