Thursday, 22 August 2013 14:58
LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, in Matthew 16:26, the Holy Bible).
“ABOLISH PORK BARREL”: Here’s one perspective on pork barrel funds, given by former Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, in a privilege speech delivered on March 11, 2003 before the Senate: “Mr. President, I rise today on a question of personal and collective privilege. Last week, we passed the Senate version of the General Appropriations Bill of 2003.
“No less than the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and principal sponsor of the bill aptly described the 2003 budget as “bare-bones”, thus appealing to his colleagues to contribute their share to arrest the projected budget deficit which our economic managers expect to hit the PhP300B mark by year-end. I now answer the call.
“I call for the scrapping of a very corrupt and corrupting system in our political institutions. All I ask are a few minutes of your precious time - and of your mind. We now must move to abolish the pork barrel system. We must see its end during our watch without need to mourn its loss. It is a virus of corruption that must die.
“PORK BARREL GIVES US SHAME”: “And, there is no better hall on this space on earth to make it happen than the Senate—expectedly, a place of men and women with mature age, with honor, with dignity, with integrity. Further, there is no better time to declare its end than now, when the country’s budget deficit is at an alarmingly uncontrollable pace. For the past year, it was PhP213B. Of course, we do not believe the numbers.
“One thing, I may say is apodictic. It is still counting. There is nothing in the pork barrel system that gives us pride. There is only everything that makes us hide in shame. 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.
“PORK BARREL TURNS LAWMAKERS INTO SWINES”: “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.
“Mr. President, our countrymen expect to see every peso of their taxes wisely spent on every project. They become profoundly disillusioned every time they are robbed of it. Let me say now what they hate to hear. But they must hear what we have been afraid to say.
“Under the pork barrel system, only less than half of the taxpayers’ money actually goes to the programs of work. More than half habitually goes to the pockets of corruption. Occasionally, depending on the insatiability of the corrupt, a shameful twenty percent of the fund is left to finance the project. Holy mackerel!” There is more of this in next issue, God willing.
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By Atty. Batas Mauricio
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