Whither the pork barrel?
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
The announcement from Malacañang that the Aquino Administration is tightening its purse strings when it comes to the release of the abominable “pork barrel” to the country’s senators and congressmen has probably made some 220 people unhappy, but it will also elate the 93 million or so that the National Statistics Office has claimed are now populating this country.
For several years now, the ordinary citizen has been wondering why the government has to give such huge amounts to the men and women they elect to propose and enact laws for the betterment of their country and its people. They wonder why this elite and privileged groups are called lawmakers when what most of them want to do is collect the enormous amount allocated to them to use in whatever manner they please.
Just imagine how much of the annual budget goes to the P200 million that each senator gets, and the P70 million that congressmen and women consider their due. Aside from their regular compensation, of course.
How did the pork barrel system get into the practice of lawmaking? Why are these “solons” devoting more of their time to building flimsy bridges here and there, paving good roads and neglecting places with only footpaths or, at most, pockmarked roads, and, even, as we have noticed in our city, breaking up perfectly good highways and building them up again, or worse, spending millions to lay expensive tiles near a hospital where charity patients abound, sometimes without proper medication?
The worse thing about the pork barrel – which had been disguised with so many sweet-smelling names – is that the amounts are given to the so-called lawmakers without a need for them to subject their expenses to the auditing that all other government funds go through when spent.
No wonder President Aquino is now planning to get more control of the loose funds, millions that could go to more beneficial use than when they are held by other, itchier hands. He will probably be crucified for this by the deprived beneficiaries, but if he can require them to, at least, account for every centavo, especially now that elections are coming, he will surely rise in the esteem of his countrymen. So, go for it, Mr. President.*