‘Daang matuwid’ made crooked by dirty pork | Inquirer Opinion
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‘Daang matuwid’ made crooked by dirty pork

When P-Noy assumed the presidency three years ago he pledged to his “boss,” the Filipino people, governance on a straight path. To his credit, he has vastly reduced graft and corruption in the government.

Graft no longer germinates in the vortex of power—the presidency. Unlike his predecessor, P-Noy has never been linked to corruption. The grafters in the government, the smugglers and the fixers who still ply their nefarious trade, do so in violation of the strict standards of conduct imposed by P-Noy.

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But P-Noy’s “daang matuwid” is made crooked by the dirty pork barrel system. He appears not to possess the political will to stop once and for all this rotten practice that drains the national treasury of billions of pesos in taxpayers’ money every year. P-Noy knows this personally because he was once a   congressman and deputy speaker.

The P10-billion pork barrel scam reportedly handcrafted by Janet Lim-Napoles through her phony nongovernment  organizations is just the tip of the iceberg. More ugly revelations are expected to unfold, subjecting our country and people to embarrassment and derision in the global community.

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There are almost 300 members of the House of Representatives. Multiply this number with the P70 million given to each representative, and the product is a staggering P21 billion. Add to this the P200 million given to each of the 24 senators (or P4.8 billion), and we have close to P26 billion of the people’s money thrown into the pond where many insatiable crocodiles are happily waiting.

If the kickback from the costs of projects and programs funded by the pork barrel is at least 20 percent, a dishonest representative can enrich him/herself by P14 million a year or P42 million in three years—a huge amount that can ensure his/her reelection.

Do you still wonder why political dynasties thrive? The pork oils their electoral machine for maximum efficiency to crush their opponents. I know whereof I speak because I was privileged to serve as chief of staff of an honest lawmaker for nine years—Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron, MD (4th district, Iloilo), who completed his third term last June 30. There are only a few like him in the House who have not yet been swallowed by the system. If only 90 percent of our lawmakers are as honorable vis-à-vis their Priority Development Assistance Fund, there is no rationale for writing this commentary.

Had P-Noy detonated a bomb during his fourth State of the Nation Address by announcing the demise of the pork barrel system—simply by omitting the PDAF appropriations in the proposed budget for 2014—he could have jolted and angered the members of the 16th Congress. But he would have won the hearts of the Filipino people and, more importantly, secured his lofty place in history.

The danger signs are unsettling. The public outrage against the pork barrel system is gaining momentum and spreading like a brush fire. It may intensify to fan organized street protests.

Is P-Noy a traditional politician or a statesman? More paramount than his personal desire to make Mar Roxas his successor as a return favor for the latter’s giving way to his presidential candidacy in 2010 is the judgment of history. Will he be remembered as a weak President who yields to the pressure of politicians and the exigencies of partisan politics, or a strong president and statesman who, unmindful of the future of the ruling Liberal Party, makes a bold decision in the best interest of the nation?

 

Ermelo Dusaban Biron is a retired lawyer from Chicago, Illinois, in the United States, and a volunteer Christian missionary with CARE Philippines.

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TAGS: daang matuwid, Filipino people, Janet Lim-Napoles, Mar Roxas, MD, P10-billion pork barrel scam, pork barrel scam, Priority Development Assistance Fund, Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron
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