I believe it’s highly important to set things straight because seeing today’s media coverage or agenda setting makes me think most mainstream/corporate journos either act as if they were born yesterday or are willing peddlers of B.S. Aquino regime’s false narrative of government accountability and “pork barrel abolition”.
Today’s newspaper headlines trumpet B.S. Aquino’s heroic expunging of the much defiled pork barrel from the face of Philippine politics. Philippine Daily Inquirer’s blaring headline made me scratch my head: “Pork Out; No More NGOs”.
All I can say is, the president successfully turned this issue around in his favor by somehow identifying the real culprit and then offering his own solution– a ” new mechanism”– designed to be more “transparent” and equitable– to address the needs of constituents and sectors.
In his much applauded speech, the President blamed a former president– his predecessor and now congresswoman Gloria Arroyo, I believe– who “was ready to trade favors just to remain in power”, including unnamed legislators and members of the bureaucracy “who were willing to conspire, enabled by a passive and indifferent citizenry”.
If B.S were indeed serious about his rhetoric of transparency and accountability, he should have also mentioned his own budget department the dispensed more than P70 billion pork funds from 2011 up to 2013 as well as the lawmakers who allegedly abused their allocations from 2010 to 2012, according to a party-list lawmaker. Also, why didn’t the COA (Commission on Audit) report include the period 2010 – 2012 in its audit?
But did the President really abolish or eradicate the pork barrel from our graft-ridden system of politics? Well, I think what he did is just a matter of semantics and aggressive Orwellian maneuver. B.S. Aquino and his propagandists under government payroll, including their army of Yellow journos, were deliberately confusing “pork barrel” with PDAF or Priority Development Assistance Fund.
PDAF and its ancestor CDF (Countrywide Development Fund) were designed to allow legislators, whose proper job is to make laws, to finance their pet projects.
Pork barrel is a pejorative term to describe government legislation containing projects for members of the legislature. It is a distributive policy designed to benefit legislators by enhancing their chances of reelection. In practice, pork barrel is being used to keep the government’s 21st century plantation intact and its slaves impoverished and more dependent on government handouts.
In reality, it is actually the people’s dependency on government doleouts that perpetuates our Welfare State and keeps the pork barrel alive. This is the very reason B.S. Aquino tried his best to rationalize his justification against pork abolition.
This is what B.S. said just a few days before he came up with a more creative, bad ass way to fool the people (e.i., by simply distorting the standard dictionary definition of “abolish”)– “If we scrap [the pork barrel], then we presume that the national government knows all our needs and attends to these all the time, and I believe that’s a little far-fetched.” He said the PDAF had many good uses and that “the right thing to do is to apply the appropriate punishment for the misuse.”
Why the sudden change of heart, Mr. President?
Apparently his “PDAF is good” strategy didn’t work, so he was forced to call an urgent press conference on Monday to appease public anger by trying to sell his “It’s time to abolish pork barrel” rhetoric. Some corporate journos were easily duped into buying the regime’s obviously phony and fraudulent narrative, while others remained skeptical.
The truth is, B.S. didn’t actually abolish pork barrel; he merely came up with a new pork barrel mechanism/system, which his minions blissfully advertised as “transparent” and more accountable. Bear in mind that the P25.2-billion proposed pork barrel budget stays in the 2014 budget. This bold display of BS-ness can be likened to a computer user trying to replace his much discredited web browser with a new one, while using an old, BS operating system (OS).
So, let’s set the record straight by looking at the standard definitions of the derogatory term ‘pork barrel’:
- “a government appropriation, bill, or policy that supplies funds for local improvements designed to ingratiate legislators with their constituents.”
- “A slang term used when politicians or governments “unofficially” undertake projects that benefit a group of citizens in return for that group’s support or campaign donations. This spending mostly benefits the needs of a small select group despite the fact that the entire community’s funds are being used.”
- “Pork barrel is the appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.”
According to this researcher, pork barrel projects consist of “discrete, high divisible benefits targeted to the specific populations such as states and congressional districts; the cost is spread across the general population through taxation.”
Now, to answer the question of whether or not the incumbent administration abolished pork barrel, let’s look at some publicly available government documents.
Apart from B.S. Aquino’s doublespeak on pork abolition, the official website of the government also shows solid, prima facie evidence that the current regime merely replaced the graft-ridden PDAF with a new and still unnamed pork mechanism.
This gov.ph post reveals the government’s BS contradiction–
“There will be a new process to make sure each district and sector gets a fair share of the budget for projects, while being more transparent and less prone to abuse.”
Now that statement clearly falls within the standard definition of pork barrel, which simply means the appropriation of state spending for district or sectoral projects.
Whoever-wrote-that-post explains the reasons the old pork allocation system (PDAF) was prone to abuse in the following fashion:
While I believe previous regimes and their political and corporate clients abused their powers and political positions, shouldn’t we blame the actual regime and its political planners that started it all? This pork barrel system is absolutely legal and constitutional under the New Charter. This mechanism was vulnerable to abuse and bureaucratic loopholes from the very beginning. Remember that the CDF, which was later renamed the PDAF under the presidency of Joseph Estrada, was first established during the administration of Corazon Aquino, the president’s beloved mother.
Political and economic reality tells us it is the Yellow OS (Operating System) that is susceptible to corruption and abuse. Pork barrel abolition requires systemic change. Even B.S. Aquino knows changing the system means constitutional reform or abolishing the political legacy of his mother.
As long as we have a Welfare State system heavily tainted with Yellow politics of Big Government, cronyism and protectionism, any pork barrel mechanism will remain vulnerable to presidential abuse, congressional culture of transactionalism, politico-bureaucratic connivance, lack of systemic transparency, and a passive disengaged citizenry made more addicted to government doleout.
The following are suggested names for B.S. Aquino’s overhauled pork barrel (from netizens):
- NACAW: National Allotment for Countrywide Access to Welfare
- BADAF: Benigno Aquino Development Assistance Fund
- NAPOLES: National Assistance Program of Lawmakers Engaged in Services
- PIG: Programs for Intrasectoral Government
- SCALP: Special Countrywide Assistance and Legislative Programs