I’ll say it in the frankest way I possibly can.
The pork barrel system should not exist. It only causes a mountain of problems, despite the ‘good’ that it claims to do for the community and government. Look at our problem with Janet Lim Napoles now.
Frequently seen on the news and television is the 10 billion peso scandal involving Napoles, pork barrel funds, and well-known government officials. Now, I would love to tell you what has been said in the newspapers; to offer you a summary of what everyone already knows, but I won’t. I have things and ideals that need to be said, and I won’t spend most of it talking about a summary.
I am not a government official. I am not studying a political science related course, or even a pre-law course. I am a concerned citizen who feels that my voice should be heard. Hopefully, it will. The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF, or the formal and official name of the pork barrel system) is a doorway to corruption and (sometimes) prerequisites to win in elections. So much money is invested on fixing roads, fixing buildings, building structures that will eventually need to be fixed, and in all reality, when we look at it, the PDAF is basically the source of trouble and, in some cases, a room full of smoke and mirrors.
Let’s look at Napoles’ case, now. 10 billion pesos. Wow, that’s a lot of money. (Roughly 23 million dollars, based on the exchange rate as of the time of writing) In a nutshell, I think that 10 billion pesos would not have gone to waste if the PDAF did not exist. In the first place, she would not have the power to get the money if not for the PDAF. After reading so many articles based on the pork barrel scandal, I’ve noticed that many tend to have complicated solutions to the problem, and I say this to them: Why look for a complicated solution when there is the possibility of eradication of the PDAF all together?
Miriam Defensor-Santiago has recently filed a resolution that, if passed, would stop the PDAF by the year 2016. Here, we get a glimpse of what officials receive as pork barrel funds: For 2014, Santiago is proposing to cut the senators’ pork barrel from P200 million to P100 million each; P50 million in 2015, and zero in 2016. For congressmen, the senator also proposes to cut it by half in 2014—from P70 million to P35 million; P15 million in 2015, and zero in 2016. Seeing these figures which are supposedly to be used for our community and city’s well being, we can’t help but notice that it is rarely the case. Honestly speaking, the only time I notice big construction sites is around election time. If the PDAF will not be able to cease to exist, I would like to at least be assured that the money in the pork barrel system will be used for the good of the many; and not just during elections.
Sadly, however, even President Benigno Aquino is not keen on passing the Defensor-Santiago’s resolution. What do we do then? There are even more problems that arise just from this not-so-simple problem.
Ever since the Pork Barrel Scandal reared its ugly head, people have become anxious to see what was going on. Where was the 10 billion pesos going, or had gone? Thus, people realized the lack of transparency and accountability. Who else is accounting and liquidating the money that officials procure from their sources? Of course, the officials themselves, or the people assigned to do so, and who’s not to say that it’s true?
Now, the National Bureau of Investigation is probing and investigating the said scandal. Janet Lim Napoles is opening her arms (and bank accounts) wide open, saying that she’s innocent. I, however, see a big problem with this investigation. The NBI is a government office. I know that the NBI do their best. But wouldn’t it be a conflict of interest to be investigating a scandal that runs deep in the government itself? Shouldn’t an independent body be investigating this, one who isn’t affiliated with the government? Hm. Lots to think about here.
Going back to Napoles, I simply think that she was just one of the many to be caught. I am almost sure that if we probed the Senate, we’d find a couple thousand of pesos or two out of place, and maybe even more. A recent article I read from the Inquirer states that some Senators were apparently ‘uninterested’ in getting involved with and in investigating the pork barrel scandal. Senator Francis Escudero was named in the article as one of the senators who were eager in letting the investigation go on thoroughly, however, there was a lack of interest from his fellow senators. He recently stated that the said accused in the pork barrel scandal might go unpunished if there is no action taken by the other senators. Hmmm… If that doesn’t sound fishy, I don’t know what else to tell you. Of course an investigation must go on. We have the right to know if all of this is true; and hopefully, stop a few more cases of this ever happening again.
Our money is precious. Even if we give it out voluntarily, we deserve the right to know where it is going. So I say, NO TO PDAF. It just heightens corruption and creates more illusions that Filipinos are sadly led by. We don’t need another problem to rock our shores.