The whole nation is in uproar with the current developments, or rather, discoveries regarding the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or popularly known as the pork barrel.
The amounts of money that are thrown around in the news is preposterous, amounting to billions of Pesos in taxpayer’s money. Netizens are in outrage especially those in the working sector, even celebrities like Willie Revillame are in furious. “Isa ako sa pinakamataas magbayad ng taxes, tapos napupunta lang pala sa iilang tao? Hindi lang ako, sila Manny Pacquiao, Kris Aquino, kami na mga nagbabayad ng tama, pati kayong lahay na nagta-trabaho ang apektado nito! (I am one of the highest taxpayers, and what I pay just goes to a few? Not only me, but Manny Pacquiao, Kris Aquino, we who pay right, even everyone of you who are working, are also affected by this!),” he said one day in his noontime show.
The questions that are hanging on the heads of the Filipino people range from how much of our taxes really go to developments, who in the government really serve for the people, and is the Philippines really that poor?
With more than Php10 billion in question, and hundreds of government officials involved, it’s like a circus of fraudulence, a chopsuey of corruption. How many projects could have been funded by this? How many Filipinos could have been fed? How many problems could have been averted and tackled with this?
President Benigno “Noynoy” C. Aquino has recently declared the need for the abolishment of the pork barrel, and has enumerated and identified additional conditions before the release of government funds in regards to public projects. These conditions will tackle the root problems causing the rampant misuse of government funds.
There won’t be any budget allocations to instant projects, consumable products, and unnecessary ventures. Everything should be pre-planned and properly budgeted so the allocation would be definite. Though it will take a little more time before this will be implemented, the quick response to this scandal has given a little hope to the people.
But will these conditions stop corruption? The corrupt will always, always devise new ways to do this. By adding additional constraints may help slow down corruption, but wouldn’t it also affect legit programs of the government? It would be harder to access government funds whenever the needs arise, but it would also assure that whatever funds are released have already been discussed, deliberated, and planned.
They always say that “Mahirap kumita ng pera (It’s hard to earn money)” but why does it seem that our politicians are getting their money so easily. It’s sad that despite the hardships all around the Philippines, these select few keep a blind eye and wallow in all these stolen money.
We pray that our legislators would fast-track the implementation of these conditions to avoid any last minute mysteries. We may or may not eradicate corruption, but we can always make it harder for them to do it.
We must, because it is our money they’re stealing.
Aaron J.P. Almadro is Editor in Chief of Eastern Visayas’ First Travel and Lifestyle Magazine, “8 Magazine” and “Eastern Visayas Tribune”, a regional weekly newspaper based in Tacloban city.