Open to scrutiny
The pork barrel has a more dignified name. It is known officially as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of the country’s lawmakers. The fund is meant to benefit their constituency. Apparently, some lawmakers are pouring the PDAF into fake NGOs that cough out fictional projects. The money involved is more than enough to better the lives of a significant portion of the urban poor, for starters.
Senator Pimentel denied his involvement and insisted that there’s no dummy NGO that’s being used as cover for any ghost project or money-pocketing under-the-table activities. The senator has invited anyone who wanted to scrutinize his PDAF to go ahead and do so. Perhaps somebody should. Secretary Proceso Alcala of the Department of Agriculture has been dragged into the controversy as well. He has expressed willingness to answer questions and participate in the official inquiry on the scam. Good for him.
Senator Bong Revilla who was number one on the list responded with a denial (who would admit to doing such a thing?) and said that his 2016 plans are only being thwarted. The senator said that he’s got nothing to hide. That’s all very heroic, but this is not how an aspiring president should start his premature campaign. Senator Bongbong Marcos said that he will cooperate and insisted on a political angle (read: 2016 presidential election). Maybe the investigators ought to look into the political angle.
But wait. Doesn’t everything have a political angle in this country of ours?
At this point, it seems as if the Aquino administration is taking the issue lightly. Ordering a full investigation is not the same as forming a special committee of individuals with impeccable credentials to look into the allegations. Aside from the NBI, the DOJ, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Audit are looking into the matter. Filipinos may be used to hearing about pork barrel misuse but that does not mean it should be considered routine – just another usual corrupt practice that no administration has ever managed to resolve.
The Palace spokesperson said that Pres. Aquino is considering this a very serious matter. It is more than serious. It is urgent and it is the very meat of the promise that this administration made and President Aquino reiterated in his last SONA. Fine, don’t abolish the pork barrel. Many people benefit from it. But don’t just sit and wait for this scam to be overshadowed by the next spicy headline.
“Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”, corruption has seeped in too deep. How then do you propose to fulfill your promises, PNoy?
Continuation in Part 3.