PDAF and the jeepney: Why the pork barrel should be abolished

I think the pork barrel should be abolished. Some people think some people have benefited from pork barrel money and that abolishing it will be like throwing the baby out along with the bath water. Perhaps. But that is really the sort of Robin Hood mentality that has no place in a modern 21st Century society. The existence of the pork barrel is premised on the notion that the Executive branch of government is focused on the “national” level and does not think local enough. And, to follow the logic further, delegating the need for local considerations to legislators will solve that problem.

The trouble with that medieval logic lies in this simple question:

On what basis is the presumption that legislators are better channels for local concerns than officials of local government units (LGUs) (such as mayors and Barangay officials) made?

philippine_pork_barrel_scam

Lots of people, according to legend, benefited from Robin Hood’s altruistic banditry. But to institutionalise Robin Hoodery as a routine business-as-usual means to keep “local needs” addressed is a moronic proposition. That’s the same kind of thinking that turned jeepneys from the quaint samples of “Filipino ingenuity” back in 1946 to the enormous intractable socio-economic problem that they are today. Sure, lots of people “benefit” from jeepneys. But the jeepneys’ lack of coherence as a modern system of moving people en masse stares us in the face today like an Alcoholics Anonymous facilitator.

The parallels between the pork barrel and the jeepney are very evident. Pork barrel disbursment of “development funds”, like the jeepney, does not lend itself to a transparent system that could be governed with some semblance of coherence. And this is why the whole regime comes across — rightly so — as an institutionalised national scam. We didn’t need Janet Lim Napoles (if the allegations are true) to put the “scam” in the “PDAF scam”. The Priority Development Assistance Fund has always been a scam. Filipinos were just too dumb to realise it over the last three decades. Indeed, the pork barrel, like the jeepney infestation, are products of short-sighted populist politics. Both are products of wrong arguments that have been allowed to win for too long by a people not exactly renowned for arguing intelligently.

Pork barrel apologists harp on what they describe as the “important point and outcome” of the pork barrel gravy train; “All that matters is for the beneficiaries to get what they need. In full,” to quote the pompous assertion of a certain bozo. Sounds nice on paper, doesn’t it? That’s like saying that what’s ultimately important is that jeepney passengers get to where they want to go — even if it means allowing their means to do so to foul up traffic all over the metropolis and turn our roads into Highways to Hell in the process. If we are to use the same logic with the pork barrel, that’s like trying to implement measures to ensure that everything stolen by Robin Hood from the King is spent on putting breadcrumbs on peasants’ tables. Good luck with that “fix”. It’s no wonder Robin Hood’s men are so merry. They’re all laughing all the way to the bank.

If we want “micro level assistance” (now supposedly currently enabled by the almighty pork barrel funding) to continue, then a more systematic way of achieving that should be put in place (or done properly where it already exists) where it REALLY belongs — in the Executive Branch. We all talk about “freedom of information” like we are some kind of expert about what the term means. Yet many of our high-horsed social media barons fail to understand what it takes to mine useful information from transaction-intensive operations. You need control measures in place to capture the data in a form readily convertible to said “information”. When money is palmed over to oinking politicians at the whim of presidents starved for their “cooperation”, there will be no such information.

The short answer to idiotic calls to retain the pork barrel is that a mechanism to get resources allocated to address “micro needs” already exists in the Executive Branch.

It does not take political “experts” to see that the whole point in being a duly-elected legislator is to ensure that constituencies are well-represented when crafting laws. They should leave the execution of those laws (and the use of public funds to do so) to the Executive Branch. That is why said branch is named as such.

Trying to “fix pork without hurting those who really need it” is like trying to modernise public transport without abolishing the jeepney. Change always hurts. Only people who lack imagination and routinely face the future with a pathetic lack of courage aspire for painless change. And we wonder why China kicks Filipino ass.

It’s simple, really — but not for the small-minded amongst us.

[Photo coutesy The Guardian.]

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Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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32 Comments on "PDAF and the jeepney: Why the pork barrel should be abolished"

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Jerry Lynch
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Yup, those barangay officials know that they can’t put their name all over a water supply like they can a basketball covered court. There is no need for running water or sewage control when you can play basketball in the rain.

rookoz
Guest

Interesting parallels.

It’s probably less problematic to get rid of the pork barrel than the jeepneys.

Get rid of the pork barrel, you’ll inconvenient just the political class, get rid of the jeepney you’ll inconvenient, well, more people than the political class for sure.

It’s also easy to say to get rid of both, but there should be some thoughts on its replacement. In fact, might as well hit two birds with one stone, by allocating the money from the former to fund a modern public transport system and related infrastructure (ie.roads and stormwater drainage system).

kumagelo
Guest

a question.. (disclaimer, I’m asking because i don’t know and I am just assuming stuff in my head.)

If the gov’t actually manages to remove the pork barrel and transfer it to the executive department. Will monitoring be easier/feasible?
Accountability is another thing but if the public can monitor fund movements all the time then accountability will be by default

Jerry Lynch
Guest
It should not be left with the Executive Branch. It probably should stay where it is but do it the way they do in the US. Major projects such as highways, bridges, dams and government buildings get voted on by the legislature and the congressman gets to trumpet his success in “bringing home the bacon” at election time. In my home town in Pennsylvania the county commissioners, with the assistance of the congressman, got funding from the Federal Government to replace the most important bridge over the river in town because it was a local and state road that also… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest
All due respect Jerry, but the conditions in the Philippines are different. It’s like juxtaposing a jeepney and a Porsche — there is no comparison. It isn’t about deal making or “bringing home the bacon.” Cases of bribery and institutionalised corruption are not the exception but the rule. And the list of projects these legislators are allowed to handle cover everything under the sun. Worst of all, if we are to believe the current scandal, the pork doesn’t benefit the local constituency. It goes into the legislators’ pockets with the collusion, or at least, through the neglect, of the various… Read more »
Gerry
Guest
LOL,Filipino’s, by there very complacency and apathetic inaction, have accepted the practice for decades. and a PREDICTION is made, here and now! that if all that is done (about this ‘pork’-ing) is blogging about the ‘pork’-ing problem? WELL then, you will be doing exactly the same thing 20-30-40 years from now, which is basically nothing. Ponderous as it is that in a country where most people make less than 1/10th the poverty level of a so-called 1st world country, that people still accept being governed by such an arrogant bunch of organized criminals. A lesson to learn, what the ‘Jacobin… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest

All well and good to call for terrorist acts in support of the “greater good.” It is even more rare for anyone to die for that cause. Especially NOT the ones who portray terrorism as a great “plan” that only takes “a few people with BALLS” to accomplish great things. Usually the people who make that claim are hiding out away from the violence and the murders. With luck, they’ll end up exactly like the foremost instigator of the Jacobin violence — Maximilien Robespierre — with their heads on the end of a pike before they cause any real damage.

Gerry
Guest
Once again the ‘Saint’ see’s what he wants to see and draws his conclusions, as erroneous as they are, from what he erroneously see’s, LOL!. I am encapsulating an entire revolution that took 10 years to accomplish when I say ‘a few people with balls’, you idiot, so the PEOPLE can see that it has been done before and it can be done again.out of the ‘Jacobin’s’ rose a great nation, or do like mediocrity? oh wait, u live where? if all that is done is waste your time sitting behind a PC and ranting against ‘pnoy’ is all your… Read more »
Gerry
Guest
Oh, one last thing….the people cheered when Louie’s head was separated from his neck and held up for all to see, and the rest of the thieves ran for their lives at from the masses that rightfully hunted their thieving asses. 200+ years later that nation of people are once again trying to undo the mess that yet another tyrant has made of their country. the difference between these two nations? they have the balls to do it. the other, true to form, has a false belief that they too have the same balls…but, truth be told, they really just… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest
Gerry, is still the same hate-filled lying cowardly pile of ordure, with the same anarchist rhetoric, telling people to kill anyone they don’t like on the premise that society is DOOMED…DOOMED…DOOMED! He’s the first one to exercise his belief in what he believes is his God-given right to an exit visa when the rioting he advocates starts spilling over. Also the first to start hand-wringing over what could be a very volatile situation if the Philippines actually executed his half-baked ideas. See, the truth about the Jacobins is that they were an instrument of state terror. Maximilien Robespierre as leader… Read more »
Gerry
Guest
there is nothing ‘hate-filled’ about what I stated. What I stated are FATCS, the people cheered at the death of the tyrant…PERIOD!!! IF IF IF you think I wasted my time reading the rest of your pacifist horse-shit,”Oh give me democracy”…then all your gonna get is this… ‘KLEPTOCRACY’. Mark my words ‘puss-n-boots’, you will be doin the same shit, blogging against the tyrant 10-20-30 years down the line, a never ending line of them. Let me give YOU a modern example. In 2009, in ICELAND…the people marched their outraged asses to the presidential palace and the parliament and made it… Read more »
Gerry
Guest
I did not tell anyone to kill anyone either, so YOU just can’t handle it , huh? Being wrong, huh? Keep it up, asshat.(AND BENINGO, why are you letting this guy bash me? w/out warning him?) YOU JOHNNY are the emdodiment of a Filipino Idiot. Twist what others say till YOU only hear what you want to hear and dismiss everyone else as wrong.it is to your downfall as well(Look where you and your country are, JACKASS. you think your so fuckin smart, don’t you?). Good thing your country can not fall much further too. but w/people like you, thinking… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest
Now it’s about Iceland? First you said Filipinos should emulate the Jacobin Republic. Robespierre and the Jacobin club sent people to the guillotine based on personal whim and political stripe; he used terrorism to subjugate anyone who didn’t agree with him. No twisting words there. But now we can’t hold you accountable for posting that kind of hate screed calling for the murder of government officials, capitalists, people who went to university, and anyone else who might have bumped into you crossing the street because suddenly it isn’t about the Jacobins committing mass murder; it’s about Iceland where they only… Read more »
Jerry Lynch
Guest
So what you are saying is that even though there are over 100 million people in this country that should only have about 40 million, there is not enough common sense or education to do things properly? What you need to do is not elect the same people and their actress wives etc. to the same jobs over and over again. If you had been able to properly digest what I wrote then you would be able to see that if the method of distribution were changed and modeled after the American system the “institutionalized bribery” would no longer work… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest
Jerry, “So what you are saying is that even though there are over 100 million people in this country that should only have about 40 million, there is not enough common sense or education to do things properly?” That is EXACTLY what I and other GRP contributors have been saying. Despite the millions of intelligent, educated Filipinos who have proven themselves capable of excelling at various fields throughout the world under the most difficult conditions, when it comes to their own country, we FAIL to do what is obvious. THAT is the main reason the Philippines progresses at an excruciatingly… Read more »
Jerry Lynch
Guest
To my thinking the real reason why people in this country are so naive is the piss poor “education” system. It apparently teaches little of value and substance and what IS presented is often factually incorrect. Until there is a 12 year school system in place with everyone in the country attending all 12 years there will always be a bunch of uneducated people in power. At least 1 person has said to me in so many words, “your country is rich and that is why your education is good.” My reply is, “My country is rich BECAUSE we have… Read more »
libertas
Guest

Pnoy aquino’s fatuous responses to the pork narrel scam, public opinion, and CoA report clearly highlight that he is incompetent and/or corrupt. Take your choice. Neither augurs well for the country and for democracy.

Thomas Jefferson
Guest
So let us abolish the pork barrel along with the perks and privileges of the legislators. I am saying it again… Reform should include a strict itemized budget with complete and strict COA oversight to ensure auditing and accounting leading to actions against graft and corruption. Reform and concentrate the itemized budget into a Constituent Development Plans and Programs that would benefit only the people(constituents)and strictly exclude the congressmen. The constituents will need livelihood plans and programs, scholarships, medical assistance, disaster relief, etc. Strict bidding of goods and services from reputable contractors is a feasible option. Remove presidential control over… Read more »
Gerry
Guest

@eachhisown, the second paragraph in your comment proves the point you are saying is not true in the first paragraph. How can that not be anything but sheer idiocy, even if only by omission?

eachhisown
Guest
“Filipinos were just too dumb to realise it over the last three decades.” I sincerely believe that Filipinos are not that dumb. As their nature, they’re just not brought up to have concern for other people around them and the environment. That’s all there is to it. Evidently this can be obviously seen on their conducts and behaviors not only within their homes but outdoors as well. If Filipinos have inherent in them concern for others, their country and the environment this pork barrel could not have been conceived, implemented and devoured by politicians up to this time. Pork barrel… Read more »
libertas
Guest

“A man was admitted to hospital over the weekend with a fork stuck in his penis after an act of self-pleasuring went wrong” ( the fork was removed without physical impairment to the mentally impaired idiot)
In other news pnoy aquino was unavailable over the weekend during the floods due to …..

Johnny Saint
Guest

Now, now. That fellow was a 70-year old Australian.

However, I’ll concede Penoy comes off as someone who might attempt it.

libertas
Guest

As that other australian dirty old man rolf harris would say
“Can you see what it is yet”

Yes – a bloody paedophile, sport

libertas
Guest

If you got rid of pork barrel all those brainless and unemployable sons and daughters of corrupt dynasties, and has been actors/actresses, would actually have to try and do something for a living, and it would also close down restaurants in makati, ktv bars, reduce journalists pay on the philippine star, put lynda jumilla out of a job, have mistresses crying in the street as they look for their next customer, and make bimby aquino’s brand value plummet.

Domingo Arong
Guest
Benign0: Here’s what former National Treasurer Leonor Briones said: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/471863/ex-national-treasurer-calls-for-scrapping-of-p450b-presidential-pork-barrel “Suspending the ‘pork barrel’ or scrapping it altogether is good, but why not slay the bigger monster in the annual national budget? “That creature would be the “special purpose funds” (SPF) of President Aquino which, at P449.95 billion, eat up about a fifth of the entire P2.268-trillion budget proposed for 2014. “The present subject of widespread public outrage—the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel—is only about 5.5 percent (or P25.24 billion) of the incoming SPF.” Briones adds: The “entire special purpose fund is under the control of the… Read more »
Thomas Jefferson
Guest

Down with the dark, corrupt, shameless and useless dictator! Down with BS Aquino! Your matuwid na daan is finally exposed as pure black propaganda! Ang Baliw na daan patungo sa baliw sa kapangyarihan at baliw sa nakaw na yaman ng kaban ng bayan! Down with the yellow dictatorship!!!

Simpleton
Guest

Oh my.. The opportunity costs!!

With that amount of dough flowing unchecked, there’s no way any normal human being can resist corruption..

I guess the only solution is to guilt them enough so they give more than what they take..

“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him”
-Cardinal Richelieu

P.S. I’m not pious. But good point!

FallenAngel
Member

The amounts involves can easily make one flabbergasted, indeed.

libertas
Guest

If no more pork barrel then no more pacquaio in politics.
So many reasons to say ” abolish pork barrel”

Simpleton
Guest

If no more pork barrel then one less reason to hate the deductions in my payslip

joytaladua
Guest

ang mga tao po ba pwede makakuha ng benepisyo galing sa PDAF? ask lang po.. salamat