What P20B of plundered funds could have done
The INQUIRER reported: “P130-B Malampaya Fund intact, says Bureau of Treasury” (News, 10/12/13) since its creation in March 2002. The total amount deposited by the Department of Energy in the Malampaya Fund has reached P179.338 billion, or almost P180 billion, as of Sept. 30, 2013. Total releases against the fund amounted to P42.05 billion, leaving P137.288 billion “intact.”
Even if only P10 billion were spent for public housing for the poor like what Habitat for Humanity and Gawad Kalinga have done, that amount could have built 100,000 homes that would have been enough to accommodate almost half-a-million (500,000) poor Filipinos. The sum of P10 billion can also build a health center for medical services, an elementary school and a vocational school for those in the high school level similar to Don Bosco Technical Institute.
Likewise, the P10 billion in public funds lost to the pork barrel scam of Janet Lim-Napoles, with the connivance of corrupt senators, congressmen and government officials in the implementing agencies, could have done as much as the lost P10 billion Malampaya fund could have. That could have meant another 500,000 poor Filipinos benefiting from housing, educational and medical services.
All told, P20 billion could have changed the lives of one million poor Filipinos, but they hardly received any help from the national government except from the dubious and controversial Conditional Cash Transfer program, the cost of which has reached more than P30 billion in one year. Yet P20 billion is less than one percent of the more than P2.2 trillion budget of the Philippine government.
The Philippines is not a poor country. Our national government has more than enough money to deliver basic services to the people, especially those living in abject poverty. The national budget has increased by almost 10 times from the 1987 budget, the first enacted during the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino, which was just over P200 billion.
The only problem is that public funds are stolen each year. Worse, the “daan na matuwid” of incumbent President Aquino has allowed the evil ways of the past to continue in the Priority Development Assistance Fund, and now also in the new Disbursement Acceleration Program!
—R. B. RAMOS,
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