With Janet Napoles behind bars (read: Palace pampering) by way of her seemingly scripted surrender to the President, it is more apparent that the Aquino administration is desperate to sway the public attention towards a singular cog in the corruption machine; and win the masses’ approval by painting a scenario where PNoy’s anti-corruption campaign will emerge victorious thanks to Aquino himself.
Aquino, who augmented the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) over his tenure by 267 percent had a change of heart when he himself called for the abolishment of the PDAF days before civilians took their anger to the streets last August 26 via the Million People March. PNoy’s attempt to pacify the mob by slashing PDAF appears nothing but a media stunt as the said fund is still included in the 2014 National Expenditure Program.
Furthermore, removing the corruption-laden PDAF that was used by Napoles and some high-profile politicians to fund (amounting to 10 billion peos) illegitimate NGO’s isn’t enough to cleanse the government funding system where most of the people’s money may be spent by few “empowered” individuals.
The PDAF is nothing but a pimple on the acne-ravaged pork barrel system. When it comes to appropriation of lump-sums, the President has the lion’s share.
The Presidential pork barrel highlighted by Special Purpose Funds for 2014 will amount to more than 1.3 trillion pesos or over 55 percent of the total 2014 budget. The following funds that are in the national budget can also be considered as part of the president’s pork barrel which can be used under the President’s discretion: confidential and intelligence funds (P1.46 billion), PAMANA (P7.22 billion), CCT (P62.6 billion), and under BuB (P20.03 billion ). Nonetheless, off-budget accounts and realigned savings which aren’t included in the national budget are also part of the presidential budget.
It is therefore not enough to call for the abolishment of the PDAF alone. The devil is in the detail. Scrutinizing the national budget will reveal that the President has the biggest hand in the national coffer.
Aquino’s script-writers and spin doctors are doubling their efforts to conceal the “tuwid na daan’s” real destination. Feeding the padrino system has been one of the honcho’s, and those before him, tactics to keep his government intact. We cannot expect for significant changes in the system should we remain being passive-aggressive.
Instead of focusing on the PDAF issue which is only the tip of the iceberg, we need to expose the full scope of the presidential pork barrel and explain to the people why it needs to be abolished.
Hold officials and agencies – particularly the President and his cohorts – accountable for systematically sustaining the pork barrel behemoth for their own selfish interests. Intensify our two-fold call for the abolition of the presidential pork barrel and the rechanneling of government funds directly to social services.