Scrapping The Pork Barrel System May Change Filipino Political Culture Faster Shifting to the Parliamentary Form Of Goverment

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RubenventWhile pseudo experts come up with the equivalent of a Rube Goldberg machine to solve simple problems, real experts often come up with simple yet effective solutions after finding the appropriate process to correctly identify the problem.

You can find proof of this in various situations ranging from repairing cars to curbing criminality.

One such example I like bringing up is the “Broken Windows Theory” which states that simply keeping places clean and orderly may deter vandalism and discourage  more serious crime.  To deter vandalism and crime, experts trained in the Rube Goldberg school of thought would have probably proposed the use of sophisticated electronic surveillance, genetically engineered attack dogs, and cutting edge nano-robotic self-repairing paint.

Another example is the time when the mechanic at neighborhood auto-repair shop fixed a problem in a car’s automatic transmission just by tightening just one screw, when all other mechanics were saying that the transmission had to be taken down and the car’s computer box needed to be replaced.

Yet another situation where you’ll find “Rube Goldberg” solutions being proposed will be when you observe people discussing solutions to dysfunctions in Filipino political culture.

The disciples of Rube Goldberg school of political solutioneering will perhaps say that in order for Filipinos to elect better leaders, the country should shift to a parliamentary form of government, liberalize the economy, and break up the country into federal states.

Notwithstanding the merits of each proposal, perhaps it would be better to start by figuring out why Filipinos vote in the way they do.  Chances are, you will find out that a substantial number of Filipino voters don’t have a full grasp of what elected officials are supposed to be doing beyond granting favors and dispensing various forms of ‘assistance’ either in cash or in kind.

Just consider that for a people not known for a love of following rules and laws his country, the largest number of officials they elect every year are legislators — 24 senators and 300 or so congressmen, not to mention hundreds of provincial board members, thousands of municipal board members, barangay councilors, and SK councilors.

If you’ve ever spent time in the office of a senator or congressman, you’ll probably see that the larger number of visitors are comprised of people seeking all sorts of “assistance” — medical assistance, scholarships, employment, etcetera — all granted through their Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF.  The lesser number of visitors would be comprised of individuals or groups lobbying for resolutions, bills, or some manner of intervention using the legislator’s oversight function or clout.

In a conversation about PDAF, a friend remarked that this could be the reason why Cong. Jules Ledesma doesn’t find it necessary at all to show his face on the plenary floor or participate in committee hearings.  My friend assumes that Cong. Ledesma sees his role as legislator largely fulfilled just by ensuring the uninterrupted dispensation of PDAF to his political supporters — whether they’re ordinary constituents or political kingmakers.  And, as Cong. Toby Tiangco had intimated during the Corona Impeachment Trial, all that a legislator needs to ensure the release of PDAF is not brain-work but only a sufficient number of muscle movements to sign a Malacanang sponsored impeachment complaint.

PDAF supplants the necessity for a high intellectual capacity and deftness in engaging in intellectual discourse which is the very core of policy formulation which in turn is the primary job of legislators.  With PDAF, legislators are automatically granted largess without having to argue for its  case.

My friend’s theory is that without PDAF and with the strict application of line budgeting, Cong. Ledesma would soon find himself actually having to ‘work’ for his district by participating in budget deliberations to ensure that funding for programs and projects are included in the General Appropriations Act.  Effective participation in budget deliberations, in my mind, would involve a fair degree of negotiation skills as well as a fairly deep and broad knowledge about different types of projects — from how hospitals are managed to how roads are built.  If Cong. Ledesma fails to swing projects for his district through his participation in budget hearings, one can assume that he won’t get elected for another term.

Taking away PDAF raises the required level of proficiency and expands the breadth of skill sets needed to channel government funds and in a way, encourages some level of meritocracy.

Because, if people want more nationally funded programs and projects in their districts, they’ll have to elect people who are more effective in line budget deliberations.  This could conceivably exclude the likes of entertainment celebrities who can’t even articulate anything beyond rehearsed lines written by script writers and publicists.

Clearly, it seems foolish to inflexibly stick to the position that one can expect a change in political behavior and culture by changing the rules and laws  in a country where people are not known to abide by rules and laws.

223052_10150273048588975_4095024_n (1)The better position, perhaps, can be stated simply:  You can change behavior simply by changing the incentive.  If the incentive is money, you’ll attract people who like money.  If the incentive is being given an opportunity to apply one’s intellect, chances are you’ll attract intellectuals.

Clearly, this goes against the thinking that can’t reach beyond dog collars and pigeon feed.

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27 Comments on “Scrapping The Pork Barrel System May Change Filipino Political Culture Faster Shifting to the Parliamentary Form Of Goverment”

    1. I earlier had the view that something could be done to properly regulate the use of pork barrel. But after more readings, I realized scrapping pork is certainly something we need to do.

  1. “The better position, perhaps, can be stated simply: You can change behavior simply by changing the incentive. If the incentive is money, you’ll attract people who like money. If the incentive is being given an opportunity to apply one’s intellect, chances are you’ll attract intellectuals.”

    Good point!

    I guess some (if not most) of our legislators or government officials are just in it for the money. Surprisingly, the wages for legislators aren’t really that high compared to the money they used for campaigning. So I guess the real money is in their PDAF.

    We need passionate people not those inclined by monetary incentive.

    I just want to add one thing. I think that because of poverty, greed or western influence some people don’t choose their jobs based on what they’re passionate about. Instead they choose jobs that would get them rich. One example would be the boom of nursing. I bet many of those who took nursing simply took it because they thought that it would earn them a lot when they are nurses and not because they really want to take care of people. This could also be true with other courses. So following this thought, I think that some of our politicians are not far off –opportunists.

    I might be wrong though. hehe Just a thought.

    1. More often than not, those who pursue careers because of money don’t end up being as productive as those who pursue careers out of a sense of mission.

      1. Yes, and the quality of the work done is different. We need politicians who carry a sense of mission, not for themselves but for their country and their people.

      1. Money seems to be the main motivator for political office in the little red dot to prevent corruption but recently cases of high level corruption do not seem to validate the logic of the so called founder of modern Singapore. It still boils down to morality as all the laws legislated will not help unless there is enforcement and adherence

    2. Nurses are not high wage earners. Filipina’s who get Nursing degree in Filippine Schools for ze Nurse’s are un-able to pass testing boards for licensing in the West and where for their troubles do they get? Well for them, they get bed-pan jobs.
      Not a good choice. A fate to pity.

    1. Actually, not everyone gets to appoint public officials. Only members of the Commission on Appointments can do that.

  2. Nice article and it makes way to much sense. Try too get a job in a call center or just about any business the requirements far exceed what I feel many that run government have, at best I see many government employee’s that paid for their diploma’s and are just common folk that got the job because of status, wealth or stardom. I had a coworker that paid for his Philippine college degree with Black Label I think once a month, he never attended and partied with his parents footing the bill, lol.

  3. Ze ‘Rube Goldberg school of political solutioneering’? Zis ‘Rube Goldberg’, does author not know whose he? Ze school does not exist, nor does zis ‘Rube Goldberg’. it is a slang at Americans Jews who fix things like the idiot would do. if so to reference this Man ‘Goldberg’ is to say it is fixed like idiot would do, then yes. Of course, fix things like idiot does and you get non fixed things.
    Intellectuals are not for governing either. Majority of Gov’t. around world that make laws, that are adhered to, have “LAW-yers” as the top ‘LAW’ makers. As it is necessary to understand “LAWS” function in society. Intellectuals are for Philosophical meanderings and theoretical Bull-shit.”If a pdaf falls into someones’ pocket, does it get stolen?”, ineffectual as it could get, no?
    Along with the competent LAWYER’s, so its good advice to follow as to hire a few Certified Public Accountants as well. For to understand finances handling is also a necessity of Gov’t. functioning.
    Most ‘INTELLECTUALS’ are, how you say? POOP-BUTTS.

  4. Although I agree to the idea, I still have doubts as to how it would change the political culture. I guess it would defend on what kind of system, in the absence of pork, will be adapted.

    Changing culture does not automatically change the result. It doesn’t guarantee the desired objective. And for culture to change, you need another culture to supplant it. Hopefully, a better one.

  5. this is not a reply. i think abolishing the pdaf is very good if not the best solution to the filipino governments corrupt culture. when a poitician enters politics he/she has a lot of money to spend to get elected. this is the main cause of corruption. the government must stopped this by limiting the amount of money to spend so that after the elction the politcian who get elected will not be able to recoup the money she/he spend. this is the main reason also why our politicians are the same rich people. they have the money to spend. how about the academe or intellectuals who could be better legislators but do not have money? let us elect poiticians who are honest and not with stolen money. the people mass must be educated or told not to elect this rich people. how many times this is being thought of by good people. the end justifies the means or the mean justifies the end. hahahaa.

  6. “If the incentive is money, you’ll attract people who like money. If the incentive is being given an opportunity to apply one’s intellect, chances are you’ll attract intellectuals.” – Paul Farol

    You said it right Paul, kaya ang mga nasa congress natin at halos lahat ng opisyal ng bansa ay after lang sa pera. How can you imagine a politician spending so much money for his/her election expenses if no ROI would ensue. Bobo lang ang taong maniniwala na gusto lang nilang magserbisyo sa BAYAN.

  7. this is not a reply. i think abolishing the pdaf is very good if not the best solution to the filipino governments corrupt culture. when a poitician enters politics he/she has a lot of money to spend to get elected. this is the main cause of corruption. the government must stopped this by limiting the amount of money to spend so that after the elction the politcian who get elected will not be able to recoup the money she/he spend. this is the main reason also why our politicians are the same rich people. they have the money to spend. how about the academe or intellectuals who could be better legislators but do not have money? let us elect poiticians who are honest and not with stolen money. the people mass must be educated or told not to elect this rich people. how many times this is being thought of by good people. the end justifies the means or the mean justifies the end. hahahaa.
    http://www.diorhandbags.net/

  8. “Taking away PDAF raises the required level of proficiency and expands the breadth of skill sets needed to channel government funds and in a way, encourages some level of meritocracy.”

    Well said, Mr. Farol., At this point in time, we cannot be sure that the one who’ll bring home the bacon is the deserving one judging to how a candidate got elected. But one can be assured that that person will do his job as long as what’s in front of him is nothing but what’s written in his job description. But how to abolish pork when the recipients don’t want to do without it? Since signature campaigns never reach the 6M figure to turn the tables (because even the One Million People March never reach the desired participants unless you’re group is INC), how about a Six Million Signature (with proposal like abolishing pork) partylist (since the votes with signatures there are valid assuming that there are more than 6M Filipino voters who believe they are really the bosses)? Just an idea though. I read that claiming justice may also bring injustice unless you stick to the proper usage of the justices claimed.

    “Taking away PDAF raises the required level of proficiency and expands the breadth of skill sets needed to channel government funds and in a way, encourages some level of meritocracy.”

    Well said, Sir. At this point in time, we cannot be sure that the one who’ll bring home the bacon is the deserving one judging on how a candidate got elected. But one can be assured that that person will do and excel in his job as long as what’s in front of him is nothing but what’s written in his job description. But how to abolish pork when the recipients don’t want to do without it? Since signature campaigns never reach the 6M figure to turn the tables (because even the One Million People March never reach the desired participants unless you’re group is INC), how about a Six Million Signature (Abolish Pork) partylist (since partylist served and voiced out the demands of people and since the votes with clear signatures there are valid assuming that there are more than 6M Filipino voters who believe that the government system is really run by the people and for the people)? Then after election it’d be like a new set of leaders having to focus on work and not a whit on pork. Just an idea though. I read that claiming justice may also bring injustice unless you stick to the proper usage of the justices claimed. More power to GRP! Hehe

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