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‘Pork’ stays: “what are we in power for?”


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others…” (Philippians 2:3-4, the Holy Bible).

AGUILAR-GATDULA AFFAIR: FILIPINAS ONCE MARRIED AT 14 YEARS: Filipinos really have short memories. I mean, what is the fuss about singer Freddie Aguilar’s amorous relationship with 16-year old Jovelyn Gatdula of Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro, when, prior to 1988, our laws allowed marriages between men who were already 16 years old and women who were only 14 years old?

ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGES IN RP: It was only in 1988 that the marrying age for Filipinos, men and women alike, was raised to 18 years old, through the sole enactment of the Family Code by then President Corazon Aquino, using her legislative powers after the EDSA Revolution of 1986. Now, tell me, which historical period in our country’s history showed more broken or separated Filipino families—before 1988 or after 1988?

The answer is clear: more families broke up after 1988, or after the Family Code took into effect, simply because that Code allowed annulment of marriages based on a ground which was non-existent in our old Civil Code. This ground, called “psychological incapacity” of the husband or the wife to discharge his or her marital obligations, caused more break-ups of families compared to any other period in Philippine history.

Prior to 1988, any husband or wife could annul his or her marriage based only on certain well-defined grounds affecting the ages of, and consent to the marriage given by, the parties. After Cory Aquino’s Family Code went into effect in 1988, however, anyone who can claim that his or her spouse is not doing his or her role as such spouse can already seek the break-up of his or her marriage through an annulment.

PORK STAYS: “WHAT ARE WE IN POWER FOR?”: The House of Representatives’ version of the 2014 budget represents some kind of a victory for those who have opposed the pork barrel system and demanded its abolition. Now, there is no more pork barrel funds which the legislators can abuse, because any proposed infrastructure project by any lawmaker should now be included in the budget itself.

But then, it cannot be denied the House version of the 2014 budget still allows congressmen and senators to choose the contractors that would undertake the implementation of their infrastructure projects, and this is where graft and corruption can still thrive and flourish. Why? Simply because contractors who want the projects for themselves can still make a deal with the lawmakers, similar to the deals which they entered into previously with spurious non-governmental organizations.

I am sure that lawmakers who are allied with Malacanang and its candidates for 2016 can find a way to still profit handsomely from their chosen infrastructure projects, and from their chosen contractors. If this system is allowed to continue, then, indeed, the pork barrel system and all its scam will continue in our midst. The only solution, therefore, is to prevent lawmakers altogether from proposing any project. Or, are we hearing them say, “what are we in power for?”

CREDIT GRABBING FOR POLITICAL MILEAGE: Credit-grabbing, for political mileage—that is what is happening in the distribution of relief goods to the victims of the earthquake that hit the country middle of this month. Local politicians who are still seeking more years in office would necessarily desire that relief goods be distributed through them, to create “utang na loob” among their constituents. National politicians naturally want the same thing for themselves. So, what else is new?

GIVE WAY TO OTHERS: Selfishness is a character trait that seems to be fully ingrained among many Filipinos nowadays. Many want to be ahead of everybody else—whether it be in receiving relief goods, or when traveling through roads and streets, or lining up for something, or almost in anything else. The sad reality is that “many who are first will be last,” as Jesus, our God and Savior, said (in Mark 10:31). Let us therefore try to give way to others, for we will reap more blessings that way.

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By Batas Mauricio

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