It was a very much welcome twist of events week after the President issued a statement saying pork barrel or PDAF (Priority Development Assistant Fund) should stay. Today, in a live televised speech at Malacanang, President Aquino III announces his stand on abolishing the pork barrel system. Joined by the leaders of both houses of legislature, Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, the President declared that it is time to abolish the pork barrel.
In his speech, the President cited the good purpose of creating PDAF in the 90’s to help fund communities and LGUs which cannot afford. But its good purpose was suddenly abused by some greedy politicians who regarded PDAF as their own money. And now that the abuses has been told via the COA Audit report, the President have decided to once and for all abolish the pork barrel system and create new mechanism of funding development projects for the country side which will be more stricter and more susceptible to abuses.
Below are the safeguards outlined by the president that will ensure people’s money will not be corrupted:
- We will continue the practice of requiring that projects to be funded come from a specific menu of qualified projects.
- They cannot include consumable soft projects, such as fertilizers, seeds, medicines, medical kits, dentures, funding for sports fests, training materials, and other such items—these projects of which the results and impact we cannot conclusively identify, and which may only be ghost projects, used only as a source of income by the corrupt.
- They cannot be temporary infrastructure, and neither can they be dredging, desilting, regravelling, or asphalt-overlay projects.
- The funds cannot be disbursed to NGOs and certain GOCCs, such as ZREC and NABCOR. Both of these GOCCs will be abolished, along with others of their kind that have become notorious for anomalies, and which seem to serve no other purpose aside from being instruments of corruption.
- The funds must be limited to the district or sector of the legislator who sponsored it.
- All items will be subject to open and competitive bidding, with all bid notices and awards posted in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System or PhilGEPS.
- So that the public may monitor the implementation themselves, we will make sure that each item will be disclosed in the DBM and related agency websites and the National Data Portal of the government.
With that pronouncement, pork barrel or PDAF will no longer be handed to the Senators or Congressmen but will have to be enacted through the appropriations act. Projects will then be itemized and will be part of the national budget as opposed to the former’s discretion of the legislators.
This development has earned both praises and flaks from different sectors of society. I for myself regarded this as a great move by the President which is also shared by many. In the micro blogging site Twitter, many netizens were relieved that finally the president have moved for its abolition. Some also commented it’s a long overdue but still lauded the president for having the political will in doing so. But like in any democracy, there will always be pros and cons. Of course skeptics are always there to balance the equilibrium. There were people who instead of being happy that “old PDAF” system is on its way out, still faulted the President for flip-flooping his decision on the matter. Some also insisted that this is not abolition but just renaming and PDAF will still stay.
In all fairness to the president, when he said in the past few days that he wanted PDAF to stay as it really helped people in the rural areas, he also said he’s still open to discussions about it. It is good that he takes time to study the matter and re-think thus coming with his current decision. It is not an easy task to be a president of millions of people. In a small setting like a company or a just a team of 12 employees, decision making is one of the hardest things to do, what more a president who is faced with so much problems of a country. I’m not saying we should just take anything that the president said in full delight but can’t we just support him first and prove that his decision is right? For me one of the biggest problems of our nation is our tendency to be highly pleased. We wanted our government to solve our problems in a snap of fingers which is very difficult needless to say impossible.We’re like in a culture of “sala sa init, sala sa lamig”, you do that, you’ll be faulted, you don’t do that, you’ll be criticized, so where will the president put himself?
The fact that the president had the courage and political will to scrap the pork barrel which is known as the president’s bribing machine to the legislature is enough proof that he is really serious in stopping the system of corruption in the government. As I always say, a nation doesn’t only depend on its government but the people itself and the fact that the president listens to his people’s clamor is a good sign that we have a president who is not only leader of the government but leader of its people as well.
I always keep this 2 things in viewing the government:
1. Praise and recognize the good things.
2. Criticize and suggest improvements on the bad things.
I’d rather be an optimist who will strive hard to work and support the good things I see in the future than be a pessimist who keeps on denying the imminent light because they’ve already blacked-out their minds.