Scrap The Pork Barrel, The Fount of Patronage Politics
The amount involved, the outrageous sense of betrayal felt by the general public and the total insensitivity of those involved to the greater majority of the people boggle the mind. The scandal provokes sadness and anger. Sadness at the plight of the people in the hands of its leaders. Anger over the way people’s taxes have been misused.
This political decadence brought about by the pork barrel is not new. It is a part of the patronage politics that has plagued the electoral and political system in this country. No less than the Budget Secretary himself said in June 2012 that the “context of pork is ‘patronage politics’ and the logic that drives the selection of projects and the disbursement of many politicians’ pork funds, ‘pautakan lang ‘yan’ or ‘just play it smart’” (PCIJ, July 22, 2013). The previous dispensation was an example of patronage politics.
Thus, there is every reason to be upset that the President who was elected via an anti-corruption drive and a platform of “daang matuwid” is not keen on removing this scourge. Instead, it will remain and may even be increased. Aside from the Php25 Billion for Congress, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) also reported that the office of the President is allotted about Php317.5B for special purpose funds and Php117.5B for unprogrammed funds in the proposed General Appropriation Act of 2013. PCIJ said “disbursement record on these funds have hardly been published online or disclosed to the citizens, despite repeated requests.”
There is neither justification for the misuse of public funds by leaders while the majority of the people wallow in want and vulnerability to disasters, nor any moral ground in the failure of our leaders to be accountable.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines joins the groundswell to scrap the pork barrel system. Let the funds be channelled to education, health, housing and other social services. Let us be vigilant that the calls for investigation will not be muddled by the patronage system. Let us remain focused on the issue of corruption in high places diverted as we are often by other issues.
To our leaders take heed when you become dealers of the posterity and patrimony of this country: “When the wicked are in authority, transgression increases; but the righteous will look upon their downfall” (Proverbs 29:16). Take heed that callous insensitivity and betrayal of the public trust has led many of our people from imploring arms to defiant clenched fists. The downfall of the foolish is swift.
REV. REX RB REYES, JR.
General Secretary, NCCP
THE MOST REV. EPHRAIM S. FAJUTAGANA
Obispo Maximo XII, Iglesia Filipina Independiente
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