by Manny Diel
What is the Pork Barrel ? According to Wikipedia , it is used to mean funds allocated to the members of the Philippine House of Representative (About 70 M each) and the Philippine Senate ( about 200 M each) to spend as they see fit without going through the normal budgetary process or through the Executive Branch. It is intended for hard projects like buildings or roads and soft projects like medical expenses. This is commonly called the Priority Development Assistance Fund ( PDAF) .
The PDAF became the biggest source of corruption amongst legislators, kickbacks was common and became syndicated – using pre-identified project implementer including government agencies, contractors and bogus non profit corporations and the government Commission on Audit.
The 10 BILLION PORK BARREL SCAM alledgely masterminded by Businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and implicated three well-known senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr and 30 more individuals is what the Filipino people and the world know now but who knows what happened many years before. These appalling anomalies in the handling of Public Funds and the probe should not end with this Scam but go beyond until justice is served, culprits punished and money recovered. Enough is enough.
These billions could have been used for the infrastructure that the Philippines desperately NEED LIKE ROADS, DAMS to minimise the constant floodings, other programs like education, tourism and social benefits for the poor and more pay for the struggling workers.
When President Noynoy Aquino visited Australia over 12 months ago, he stressed transparency, getting rid of corruption, and put the Filipino first and politicians as public servants. He reported the growing economy, more revenues for the government and the conviction of the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and the impeachment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Corona as major achievements of his administration.
His biggest hurdles are to fight corruptions within the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate, the lawmaking bodies, now some are lawbreakers. The President has to listen to what the Filipinos want as put forward in the media, Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines, strong messages in rallies to come clean and restore the trust and confidence in his government.
What does the Government has to do?
Scrap the Pork Barrel System; create an Independent Body to look into major reforms needed to address the cancer affecting the Government, like approving the Freedom of Information Law as a deterrent to corruption, restructure the Commission on Audit ( more resources) to make it more effective and enforce ZERO tolerance of corruption in the government, prosecute the culprits , recover the money from these bogus organisations no matter what.