Malacañang buys time on pork barrel scam
More than a month into the Janet Napoles pork barrel scandal that started with the involvement of five opposition five senators, the Aquino administration finds itself on the defensive.
After dismissing the Napoles-operated pork barrel scam estimated to reach P10 billion as paling in comparison to the P728 million fertilizer scam during the Arroyo administration (what kind of math is he using?), President Aquino last Monday rejected calls for the abolition of much- maligned practice saying that it can be used for the good of the people. “As in everything else, there are good uses, and bad uses. Perhaps the right thing to do is apply the appropriate punishment for the misuse, but support its good use especially in communities outside the National Capital Region,” he said.
Aquino’s stand dismayed many of his supporters who held on to his campaign promise of a reformist government bannered by the “Tuwid na Daan” slogan. Some of those are calling on everybody to join the “Million People March” to Rizal Park on Aug. 26, National Heroes Day, startijg at 9 a.m. to express their outrage over how the funds for the less fortunate have been flagrantly misused by persons elected to serve the people.
Public outrage intensified with the release by the Commission on Audit of the results of its audit of the 2007-2009 PDAF which showed that the abuse was not confined to Napoles and the five opposition senators ( Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr.; Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, and former Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile).
A number of Aquino administration- allied lawmakers were mentioned in the report who misused their PDAF namely now Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, now Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, now Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and Joel Villanueva, now chair of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
Rep. Iloilo Niel Tupaz, who headed the prosecution team in the impeachment of disgraced Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, was also mentioned. Coffee shop talks mention other officials very close to Aquino.
Many also asked why COA stopped at 2009 fueling their nagging suspicion that Aquino was either trying to douse water on the pork barrel expose or limit it to Napoles to protect persons close to him.
Realizing that the expose has taken a life of its own and it would be a political suicide for them to buck the public’s anger, Malacañang is now doing damage control measures.
Monday, Aquino ordered the suspension of pork barrel funds until investigation of the scam is completed. Lawmakers who were reluctant to undertake an investigation on the fund are now willing to conduct an inquiry although many doubt if they would do an honest-to-goodness investigation of an irregularity involving them.
Even the Aquino administration allied party-list, Akbayan, finally issued a statement Monday calling for the abolition of the PDAF.
Roxas, the head of the Liberal Party, also pledged that party members found guilty of misusing their PDAFs will be sanctioned.
Nothing of these actions indicate genuine and lasting solutions against the evils of corruption and patronage politics. They are just to buy time.
Many are asking the origin of the term “pork barrel.”
Former Senator Panfilo M.Lacson mentioned the history of the phrase in a speech on March 11, 2003 explaining why he was not availing of his PDAF:
“It should not matter anymore under what name the system sounds. Be it the Countrywide Development Fund, or the Congressional Initiative Allocation, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund. It is, and will remain to be a fund of compulsive corruption.
“The name itself traces its origin to the pre-civil war days in the United States when, in periodic fits of generosity, white masters would give their black slaves salted pork in barrels. More often than not, the eagerness of the slaves would result in ugly shoving and rushing to grab more pork than the others. The more pork one could grab for himself, the more triumphant he would appear than the others who were meek and reluctant.
“We may not realize it, but the Filipino people would sometimes see us behave like slaves rushing to the pork barrel. A critic has a worse description – that of swines rushing to get more slabs than they can consume.”
In the midst of the destruction wrought by “Maring” a friend wondered, , “Saan kaya si Janet Napoles?”
Then added: “Sana nalunod siya.”
I said that was an unchristian thought. He replied, ““Nalunod sa pera ang ibig ko sabihin.”