Category: Editorial Published Date Written by The Bohol Chronicle Hits: 1102
An angry Filipino nation , exercising People Power once again, will voice their disgust tomorrow.
Many folks in Philippine cities, including those in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver (Canada) will cover their figurative noses over the "Pork Barrel" whose swinish,obscene odor has reached even the angels in heaven , as well.
The crux of the controversy is the P6-Billion (2007-2009) "Pork Barrel" involving 12 senators and 180 congressmen , engineered by Master Crook Janet Lim-Napoles and the aid of 82 dubious NGOs. Plus the P900-Million Malampaya Funds -originally mandated for the thousands of calamity victims but instead landed inside the deep pockets of legislators and their private sector collaborators.
We who understand a bit of how the National Budget is expended, believe you us, we say this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Cardinal Chito Tagle has wept over it and President Noynoy Aquino has lost even more hair and had recently summoned "outsiders" of his official circle to help him currently because "I am now again surrounded by crooks."
Though the COA Audit covered only the 2007-2009 years, there is valid suspicion that the thievery goes on in a somewhat muted but still unacceptable degree today.
Why indeed is the Filipino angry.? Whereas ,he pays 12% VAT on everything he does and buys, pay witholding taxes, property taxes, capital gains tax, income tax and all sorts of taxes and fees-these taxes do not always go to socio-economic services for the people but into the vaults of those whose conscience had left them a long time ago.
The P1,500 Conditional Cash Transfer (monthly) only make the children go to school and the mother healthy. It does not creat livelihood for the father as government does not have (? really?) the resources to create jobs.
Because revenues are never enough to match government expenditures - the government borrows such that when an infant Juan de la Cruz is born, he is already burdened by at least P50,000 per capita share of the national debt.The Bureau of Customs .some LGUs and the courts are so corrupt (still) that foreign businessmen do not invest and create jobs here. One of the family gets sick- and the Government hospitals cannot give enough medicines to indigents (here)while a regional hospital called Gallares Memorial Hospital has become a citadel of corrupted and inefficient practices. Smile, Juan de la Cruz?
Numbers do not lie- and even with sparkling RP GDP growth rates- the poverty incidence in the country rose from 19.2% in March 2013 to 22.7% in June 2013 or about an additional four million Filipinos who became poor in just three months.
Based on a 100 million population, there are 22.7 million poor Filipinos today- while this kind of wholesale thievery goes on like SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)?
President Noy has said "kung walang kurap,walang mahirap" which means that if the ranks of the poor is rising (which is true today), then corruption must have gone unabated.
The Bureau of Customs continues to be a den of thieves with P200-Billion not collected due to smuggling. We hear the names of a brother of the Speaker of the House, an official endorsed by former senate president Juan Ponce Enrile and another by a religious group who allegedly constitute the Three Kings that rob the country blind at the BOC.
The Senate has long been a damaged institution. Senate presidents have private pork barrels to subjectively distribute like Santa Claus in summer. They liquidate budgets by mere certifications and not receipts. They have superfluous "oversight " committees that cause their budget to double.
Now, with a million people wanting in disgust to gather at the Luneta tomorrow, suddenly-all 24 senators are now for the abolition of the Pork Barrel of which they gorge P200-Million every year.
There is a clear cloud of opportunistic hypocrisy over their recent stand-that makes the public temperature boil even more. Some people have vowed not to vote for any senator in the next election.
There were a lot of long faces in Congress when Pnoy scrapped the Pork-how will they recover the money they used to buy the people's votes during the last elections? How will they build funds for the next elections?
No wonder, the most viral phrase in the Internet last week goes like this- "Napoles has 30 houses - 28 houses reported at the Register of Deeds plus the Lower and Upper House. "House of Corruption", the Inquirer said.
Yesterday, the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) Boss Butch Abad said that the "Pork Barrel" will be totally abolished only in 2015 even after the President of the Philippines has publicly declared that he suspended- then ultimately "ABOLISHED" the Pork Barrel last Friday. The DBM and the masters they serve must not push their luck too hard- with this financial "sleight of the hand".
The Boss of Pnoy- the men who will take to the streets tomorrow -are watching with gritted teeth.We humbly suggest that government picks its battles well- fighting this "wave of national discontent" is suicidal and stupid.
BOHOL CIVIL SOCIETY ABSENT
BOHOL has again shown its political impotence with the continued absence of a Civil Society. While the entire nation and even Filipinos abroad will tomorrow lose their voice-and patience- in the agitated call to scrap the Pork Barrel, Boholanos here remain mum. There is no with no single activity supporting tomorrow's "Million walk against the Pork Barrel."
This is the same weak society that we always noticed in Bohol. A non-participating society in times when there is a painful need to raise a voice of protest.There are no prophets, no prophetic calls for drawing the line in the sand -dividing the morally right from the morally evil. There is no shepherd- and the sheep scattereth.
If not for DYRD's "Radyo Merkado" radio survey yesterday, Boholanos would not have had a worthwhile avenue to express their views on the raging controversy-that actually affect their lives.They have abdicated their right to indignation as tax payers of this nation.
But given the chance, they showed in the random radio survey that a remarkably high 92.5% of them were in favor for the abolition of the Pork Barrel.So, why the sound of silence?
As the walk in Luneta and in other cities will simultaneously be held tomorrow, the streets of Tagbilaran will remain normal, no march, no rally, so to speak.
We are wondering where the courageous Boholanos have all gone? Passivity has become their middle name, it seems.
Media discussions here are always lively but, there are very few sectors who will openly voice out their views on vital issues confronting the country or locality.. Look the last case at bar when the City was "under siege" by the former city administration led by the unlamented Dan N Lim. Except for a very few brave souls, seldom do you hear people openly criticizing City Hall. Why? --afraid of being intimidated by the former city mayor and loving their businesses and personal concerns much more than the larger good of the community?
So, what usually happens is a "proxy war" waged by the us, in the independent media. While we speak our mind or criticize against certain government affairs, the public usually prefers to just be an "audience" rather than articulate their views on the issues.
There is a need to form at least a key core group of 12 apostles needed to lay the seeds of a new Bohol Civil Society.We hope our citizens will answer the clarion call when their names and support are directly sought by organizers in the near future.
"No man is an island" is not just a popular song. "For evil to thrive, it only takes for good men to do nothing" - is not just a romantic slogan. They represent the reality and need of our times.