Why not an anticorruption summit? | Inquirer Opinion
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Why not an anticorruption summit?

/ 09:17 PM October 13, 2013

The pork barrel dies hard. Congressmen and senators are fighting with every trick they know to be able to keep their pork. And President Benigno Aquino III, a former congressman and senator, is also doing every trick he knows, including lying to the people, (his “boss,” he claims) to keep the pork and keep the lawmakers happy—even if it would leave the taxpayers unhappy, furious and impoverished.

Everybody can see now that the pork barrel is evil and graft-ridden and the people want to be delivered from this form of thievery. The masses are doing everything they can, short of marching on Mendiola and storming the gates of Malacañang, the Batasang Pambansa, and the Senate, but the administration turns a deaf ear to them. The lure of riches is too much for it that it blinds it to what is right and what is wrong.

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The Million People March against the pork barrel so scared P-Noy (Aquino) that he was forced to say—to head off the march—that he has abolished the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund, the polite name for the hated pork barrel), which was a barefaced lie. He abolished only the name but not the pork itself. The pork is still hidden in the budgets of various executive departments into which lawmakers can still dip their dirty hands.

Cebuanos are now preparing a people’s initiative—as suggested by former chief justice Reynato Puno who called the pork barrel “evil”—that would craft a law outlawing the pork.

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Several groups have filed petitions in the Supreme Court to declare the pork barrel unconstitutional, which of course the administration is fighting to the extent of lying again. When the tribunal suspended the PDAF, the administration filed a petition to lift the suspension order. During oral arguments before the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, the government’s counsel, said that the PDAF has been “abolished,” obviously to head off a ruling of unconstitutionality by the Court.

“If the PDAF has been abolished, as you claim, why are you asking us to lift the suspension?” Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio asked.

Caught flatfooted, the solicitor general was forced to admit that it was not abolished totally—an admission that P-Noy and his mouthpieces have been lying all this time. That’s the trouble with lying, you are caught in contradictions.

Carpio lectured Jardeleza that the President cannot abolish the PDAF because it is already a law, a lump-sum appropriation in the national budget passed by Congress. Only Congress can abolish it or the Supreme Court can declare it unconstitutional, Carpio said.

The tribunal declaring the pork barrel unconstitutional would be the fastest way to end this sordid chapter in our history. But that is not 100-percent certain. The honorable justices will still have to vote on it. Already, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, both appointees of P-Noy, have shown signs that they think otherwise.

What about Congress itself abolishing it? That is like wishing for the moon. Will our greedy lawmakers abolish what is practically a gold mine for them? Even if they give in to pressure from the public, they would insert provisions that would keep the pork barrel hidden but alive in the nooks and crannies of the national budget, and most likely brazenly revive the PDAF in the future but disguised with a different name.

What about the people’s initiative? That would take too long. One million signatures have to be gathered, which the Commission on Elections still has to verify. And the Million People March, while it scared the administration in the beginning, is not having the desired effect on our public officials we, ironically, elected to their positions.

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So why not a manifesto against the pork barrel in particular, and against all forms of corruption in general to be drafted by business and civic associations and the captains of industry? These are the sectors that pay the most taxes, so they have the most to lose in the wholesale thievery due to corruption. Most of the money being stolen by our representatives belongs to these sectors. So they have the right to demand an end to corruption.

Call it People’s Congress Against Corruption or Summit Against Corruption or any other name, but the chambers of commerce, trade associations, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Bankers Association, Lions, Jaycees, Rotarians, professional organizations and labor federations, etc. should send representatives to the summit. That should persuade our public officials to shun sin and tread the straight and narrow path. These are the most respected, experienced, and knowledgeable leaders in our country. Their collective voice should shock sense and shame into the consciences of our public officials.

Failing that, the next step should be a tax revolt. Without taxes, there would be no money for our officials to steal. But that would put more money in the hands of consumers who could use them to buy more of the products that our industries produce. With bigger sales, the factories and other industries would expand and employ more workers. These workers would then have money to spend on the produce that the factories turn out. The cycle will mean economic prosperity for all, not only for the capitalists as is happening now.

The administration trumpets the “economic boom” that the Philippines is experiencing, but where is that boom going? Not to the people. If there is economic prosperity, why are there millions of people who go hungry, who have no jobs, no homes, and no hope?

All that prosperity is going only to the capitalists, not to the masses who supply labor.

In the anticorruption summit, the businessmen would be giving something back to the people.

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