Pork Barrel

Pork Barrel

It’s About Abuse of the Filipino People
By Ben S. Malayang III, President

I share the anger of all Filipinos see their money pilfered and looted. And it’s done – apparently absent of decency and conscience – by very high officials of our land. Many Filipinos pay taxes to government in the hope that government will work for the welfare and well-being of all. But it seems that these may have been robbed by leaders on whose shoulders the people had reposed confidence that they will serve the interest of our nation. If indeed true, it would seem that electoral confidence had been shamelessly abused and turned into personal fortunes, and those insisting to be called “honorable” had dishonored the people who gave them the right to be called so.

Public office has become a travesty, nay, a den of thievery.

Title had been arrogated into entitlement.

The privilege to serve had been turned into a privilege to bleed those to be served.

Let’s please stop the abuse, now! Let us condemn the wanton pilferage of our national coffers and the shameless rape of our national dignity. Let us not allow pretentious claims of the virtues of pork barrel, nor pompous posturings of being virtuous in using it, deny the fact that it’s been widely and persistently misused and repeatedly, wantonly, criminally used to gore the heart, soul and pride of our nation.

But let us be sober in the face of the rising national disgust over pork barrel, which is undeniably (and dangerously) stoking fires of national civil discontent. But sobriety that plots determined action against it, not countenance of its continuity.  The discontent is so widespread that it now blankets all feeble rationalizations of it. Pork barrel must be scrapped now, not re-invented. Not cloaked. It must be scrapped, absolutely, not because it is politically expedient, but simply because it is indecent.

I propose:

  • That Ombudsman Carpio-Morales designates a Special Attorney of high probity and public confidence, to be cloaked with the full Constitutional powers of the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the pork barrel system and its abuses and file charges against all found involved;
  • That existing laws criminalizing legislators’ actions to influence agencies’ allocations and disbursements of funds (other than through deliberations and voting in corporate Acts of Congress and in the budget process) be forcefully and uncompromisingly enforced;
  • That all provisions in the National Budget, and budgets of agencies and government units be fully itemized and disbursements of the same strictly comply with the Procurement Law;
  • That the Ombudsman be required to automatically and immediately act on COA findings of possible misuses of public funds;
  • That any person elected or appointed found prima facie of abusing public funds be immediately suspended from public office.
  • That the Police, Ombudsman and the Courts be required to treat allegations of misuse of public funds with highest priority for action, but, likewise, if allegations are found frivolous or done in bad faith, impose severe penalties against those making the allegations.

And because the apparent scale and blatantness of abuse of pork barrel has de facto eroded the legitimacy of government – to a low that makes it dangerously brittle – a citizens’ initiative may be undertaken to create a temporary National Conscience Council of Seven, which will review, vet and express opinions on the validity of itemizations and disbursements of funds set aside for contingencies, calamities or emergencies. The Council shall sit and exercise override powers over disbursements of such funds and may defer or suspend a disbursement while the investigation and review of pork barrel is being done.

I suggest the following seven: Former Chief Justice Renato Puno; Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle; Former Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Solita Monsod; Former Senator Rene Saguisag; Mr. Washington Sycip; Ms. Letty Magsanoc; and Ms. Marites Danguilan-Vitug.

I could not countenance the pork barrel system because it is a travesty of decency and integrity of governance of the country we love. The Filipino people does not deserve this travesty. Let the travesty end, now!