There’s just nobody left in the Philippines to turn to for solutions to the pork barrel crisis

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Back in the days when former President Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines, they said there was a lot of corruption. Perhaps back then there was. But the old-timers say that this corruption was limited to Marcos’s small inner circle of cronies. At least back then, say these old timers, out of, say, 100 million pesos appropriated for the construction of a stretch of road “only”, say, 30 million pesos gets stolen and the Filipino people still ended up with 70 million pesos worth of road — because that 30 million-peso “commission” needed only to be distributed to a small handful of these cronies, there wasn’t much pressure to steal more.

Unable to live up to their illustrious surnames: Mar Roxas and Noynoy Aquino
Unable to live up to their illustrious surnames: Mar Roxas and Noynoy Aquino
Fast forward to today and our wise observers would hazard a guess that out of that same 100 million pesos, up to 80 million of it gets skimmed off for politicians’ “commissions”. Filipinos then get delivered 20 million pesos worth of road. That is because, as the same old-timers would say, there are more politicians that feel entitled to a share of these “commissions” and, as such, more of it needs to be stolen to compensate for the more thinly-spread loot.

The banal thievery that infests the process of consolidating “discretionary funds” from “surpluses” in the National Budget and appropriating these to the “management” of our Santa Claus politicians in the legislature has helped us appreciate just how much money the Philippine government actually has at its disposal — and how so much of it gets wasted in low-added-value pursuits when not stolen and in the wrong bank accounts when stolen. Billions of pesos that could have gone to scalable projects that could benefit millions of people over decades is routinely handed over to legislators who then spend these on their tingi pet “projects” that each deliver (arguably) small-local benefits for small communities over time scales that likely do not exceed six months at best. And that is when the money is not stolen. When it is stolen, well, it just simply disappears from the public domain permanently.

This is all anecdotal, of course. But it is unlikely now that Filipinos will see it any other way. The scale of the thievery, the adeptness with which politicians verbally sidestep the inquiries, the political debt owed by auditors and police agencies to the very thieves they are supposedly investigating, and the maddeningly disparate levels of comprehension different cliques of Filipinos apply in the way they regard the issues makes it very difficult to pin down a common rallying point around which the Filipino public might move forward with resolving this crisis.

As our old-timers have observed, this time walang masumbungan. Everybody who has the power to do something is complicit or on the Mob payroll. Some call for a “people’s initiative” as the means of last resort to get some next steps mapped out. But then we remember that it is these very “people” who voted with their brain stems to which we owe the ascent to power of these thieves — which means that we’ve come full circle to an initiative that draws power from the ultimate source of the problem itself.

It is a circular problem. The thievery, its victims, and its causes are an internal vicious cycle swirling within Philippine society and feeding on itself. It is almost as if only foreign intervention or an external force will put a stop to it. As a matter of fact, it is all fed externally as well — remittances from OFWs, fossil fuels extracted from the sea, and “investment” from traders salivating over the Philippines’ 100-million-strong base of remittance-spending consumers fertilise the kleptocracy with cash every year.

But whatever way you look at it, it all comes down to whether or not President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III is really serious about eradicating corruption in this sad nation. Indeed, Neal Cruz in his recent Inquirer piece opines

But if President Aquino is sincere about stamping out corruption, he can abolish pork with one phone call. And not only the evil Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) but also all lump-sum appropriations which turn into pork.

“Hey Butch,” he can direct the budget secretary even by a mere phone call, “no more pork in the budget ha!”

And the budget secretary, even if he hates to do it (after all, he is a former congressman who benefited from pork), will have no choice but to remove the pork from the proposed national budget to be submitted to Congress. Members of Congress, much as they love to fatten on pork, cannot put it there. They have no power under the Constitution to do that. They can only adjust or reduce the budgets proposed by the executive department.

Filipinos chose this man to be their president.
Filipinos chose this man to be their president.
So why doesn’t President BS Aquino do just that?

Who knows?

Perhaps the millions of idiots who voted for him should answer that question for us. For that matter, why did they vote for BS Aquino to begin with considering he was hands down the lamest of the candidates to choose from back in 2010?

That’s the thing with Filipinos. When it comes to facing the hard questions all you get is kamot ng ulo — mere head-scratching. Filipinos simply do not think.

Filipinos talk, Filipinos act, Filipinos emote (often loudly).

But Filipinos do not think.

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41 Comments on “There’s just nobody left in the Philippines to turn to for solutions to the pork barrel crisis”

  1. Sad but excellent piece, benignO! Our national hero, Jose Rizal, also wrote about the Filipinos’ troubled persona even back then (19th century). Consider these things that he wrote:

    “…Long live then your ideas of a happy life, long live the dreams of the slaves who only ask for a rag with which to wrap their chains so these won’t make so much noise or bruise the skin. Your ambition is a cozy little home, a woman of your own, and a handful of rice. Behold the model Filipino!” – Simoun, El Filibusterismo

    He really understood the Filipinos very well, didn’t he? And it’s obvious that he also became exasperated with his fellow Filipinos at a certain point, driving him to sarcasm. That’s exactly how many of us feel right now, I suppose….

    1. Thanks! That’s a very timely quote from Rizal. Indeed even back then he understood the Pinoy Condition quite well — which makes the way the nation looks up to him as a National Hero quite ironic..

      1. Ironic indeed, benignO. We know, of course, that it was the Americans who made Rizal our national hero, but it all makes sense, really, how many of the present Filipinos look up to him despite themselves. After all, Rizal was and is well respected even in other countries. Sadly, many Filipinos don’t even know his ideas and convictions, just the fact that he’s supposedly a playboy. A mirror of the Filipinos’ propensity for rumor mongering, love for international adulation, emphasis on Pinoy pride, and lack of substance. Very sad….

  2. Aquino will never abolish the Pork Barrel. It is his way of enticing politicians, to get their votes, on what Aquino wants. This is “Pork Barrel Dictatorship”, pure and simple. If you don’t follow the line; Aquino will not give you any Pork Barrel allocation fund.
    It’s a form of control, to get what he wants. The crux of the matter is: it is our taxpayers money, not his money. We as taxpayers, are entitled to it; to fund projects for development…Aquino is blocking the development of this country, by his childish attitude..

    1. I agree, Hyden. And notice how very few Filipinos take issue with Aquino’s “childish attitude”? It’s actually almost a non-issue on the whole. Could it be because (sorry to the mature guys out there!) many Filipino males are also very childish, and many Filipinas let them get away with it and even find it “cute”? As Rizal said in his “Message to the Young Women of Malolos,” to a certain extent, we can blame the women of our country for the kind of men they have raised….

  3. Well said, BeningO, there IS NOBODY left . . , but Senator Drilon had the best idea 2 months ago. Abolish the Pork Barrel (include DAP and the Presidents Social Fund) and dissolve Congress.
    The Money goes to and stays in the General Fund (it never benefitted the people anyway)and Politicians go home without pay. Let them keep what they’ve stolen, just go quietly

      1. That, again is a failure of the Aquino version 1.0. Since she was clueless on how to run a country, opted to listen to “advisers”. In the US they needed that structure, but in the Philippines, its is obviously not needed. To keep things simple, the “evil dictator” was right in his government structure. Aquino version 2.0 is making good what her mother started…..running this country to the ground. As an OFW, I am forced to work in one the most hazardous jobs just to insulate my family from the government’s greed and mismanagement. I hope they send the senators and congressmen, even BS himself for a stint at my job or any other OFW job, so that they know what “earning a living” means.

  4. IN MARCOS TIME, he controlled everything. If someone stole something without his knowledge, or one of his cabinet secretary’s knowledge….you had hell to pay.

    Today, the leaders allow the underlings to steal, as long as a tribute is paid. There is no longer a ‘disappearing act’ if you do something corrupt and that is why it is more widespread now. Marcos was not as generous, and kept all the proceeds for himself & a small circle of military. BUT do not be fooled, corruption back in the day was just as bad. It just had fewer people involved.

  5. That’s why i say again and again….
    1.The only clear solution is for the Armed Forces to Step in.
    2. Conduct a Snap Election without using the PCOS machines or use the damn things, but with ALL security measure implemented to prevent manipulation.
    Otherwise, the country is going to hell, and the hapless people can’t do a freakin thing about it.
    3.We can go a bit further and since we’re cleaning house anyway, convert the government to a Parliamentary System.

    1. I used to think that, too, Bienb, until I realized that the GRP bloggers are correct: What for are we going to do all that when at the end of the day, the Filipinos will again vote for the likes of Aquino (or Estrada, who was proven beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law to have committed plunder)? It has become clear to me that no amount of reform will work in this country unless and until the Filipinos’ character changes, which cannot happen overnight. Frankly, I’m inclined to think that what we really need is a benevolent dictator like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, who can work on reforming not only the country’s systems but also the people’s characters while curtailing some of our freedoms whose exercise is not working for our good, because democracy won’t work for us considering what we are today. But then I really don’t know how that can happen. It’s really all so confusing and sad….

    2. MAYBE the country needs to be ruled by a military junta that will not steal everything for a few years. Say, five years, just to get everything in order again. then start all over again.
      it is obvious that what has resulted in the last 50 years is a FAILED STATE, so….Filipino’s have nothing to lose at this point.

  6. “There’s just nobody left in the Philippines to turn to for solutions to the pork barrel crisis…” EXCEPT OURSELVES. The Sovereign Filipino People. We are a moving force and we can make the difference when all else fails. BSA and his followers cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

    1. Don’t forget, though, that it was Filipinos marching million-strong in 1986 that propped up the Aquino-Cojuangco dynasty, then did it again in 2001 to oust Erap and catapult GMA to power. They did it again in 2010 when they elected The Prayerful One to the presidency. And they do it EVERY election time, electing the same morons to Congress.

      Can the “Sovereign Filipino People” really be relied upon to give the nation the “right” leaders? I think that very notion needs to be re-evaluated.

  7. Hopeless and helpless, where do we go then? In those days, Marx and Mao were perfect companies. Their isms led many young men and women to their graves — all for naught! But not for today!You can no longer distinguish the foxes from the sheep, the straight from the cooked. The situation arising today is a perfect ground for dissent. Temperature is heating up…who protect us from the protector? HEY IS THERE SOMEBODY UP LISTENING?

    1. it is often said, and it is correct that when people have nothing to lose, they become dangerous.

      Dangerous to who? what? can it be themselves?

  8. I think it all boils down to the Propaganda Machine of Malasyañang and the mainstream Yellow Media na kayang kaya i brainwash ang Masa kaya naililihis ang issue ng talamak na corruption ngayon. Di tulad nung panahon ni GMA na pinag tulungan siya ng mga Yellow Zombies at Yellow Media na i demonize at i senensationalize ang issues.

    1. I agree, Beawolf. Aquino and his diabolical media team are really highly successful in using social and mainstream media to demonize whomever they want to demonize (Arroyo and anyone associated with her) and to fool the people into believing the best of Aquino, but if the majority of the Filipinos weren’t as unthinking as they are, no amount of efforts on Aquino’s part to fool us would succeed. Besides, if the majority of the Filipinos were so principled as not to condone bribery and other acts of corruption under any circumstance whatsoever, they’d be so scandalized at Aquino’s crimes that they’d be in the streets by now, demanding his resignation.

      1. The problem Crissie halos monopolize ng Yellow Media tulad ng Abias-CBN ang Masa viewers pati na nga Overseas Filipinos na bilog din ng husto ng Dyed in the Wool na Yellow Media na yan palibhasa nakinabang sila ng husto nung panahon ni Cory. Kung sakaling may magkalakas loob sa Militar dapat una nilang i cripple ang station na yan.

        1. Mukhang malabong mangyari yan, Beawolf, dahil nagsalita na sa FB ang mga junior officers na they’re extremely loyal to Aquino…. About the media, I understand what you mean. Malaki talaga ang pananagutan ng ABS-CBN at Inquirer sa nangyayari sa bansa natin. Di ko na talaga alam kung anong mangyayari sa atin.

    2. Politicians and Media are of course fully aware and taking advantage of the fact that the Filipinos void of critical thinking and can be easily manipulated by some shitty TV personality (specially maputi & tisay/tisoy) and the mass media.

  9. “Filipinos talk, Filipinos act, Filipinos emote (often loudly).
    But Filipinos do not think.”

    This is absolutely the root of all evil. The Filipino himself (the fundamental, the foundation, the basic unit, the atom that composes the matter) is a major fcuk-up beyond repair. And the very same Filipinos were entrusted with heavy responsibilities. So what do we get? EPIC FAIL-IPPINES!

    1. the root of all evil is MONEY, for if it were not involved…the problem of corruption would not exist.

      How the Filipino can run his fellow countrymen into poverty is even more mind-boggling.

    2. What I mean is the Filipinos lack of critical thinking is the root of all evil. The Filipinos is of course the fundamental of the Filipino society – if he is fuck-up so is the Filipino society. If the root of the problem is impossible to fix (which is the Filipinos) then all solution is just a patch, a temporal solution. Until we fix the very root of the problem which is the Filipinos themselves – then that’s the only time we can start hoping. But to put it bluntly – Filipinos are hopeless case, a malignant tumor, it infects and spread.

  10. I’d like to see the current government in flames and the officials tortured slowly using the old Spanish methods until they beg for death, letting them live will only sprout seeds of corruption. Its better to kill the weed before it kills everything else. Peace may be a humane option but if it has been 30 years without any form of change, then violence is sure to follow.
    My only desire for this country is that our people wise up and actually mature and learn to take responsibility for their own actions, no more of this “bahala na” thing or this hierarchy thinking we have. If we have a new government, restrictions on who should vote need to be implemented to allow stable control of who can be elected. For the elections of our officials, careful analysis of their backgrounds and an evaluation of their character. Another thing is no more barangay chairmens or officials, it should be controlled similarly like the states with governors for each province and an age limitation. Something like that would be good to have.

    1. If you kill the current officials – what’s next? An election? Then the Filipino will surely get to elect another set of nincompoops to position. Next thing you know back to square one. 🙂

      1. If you have a plan to kill the officials, then you’ll also need a plan to fix the problems so that your efforts will change things instead of just landing you in prison or continuing what you killed people for.

        There’s a difference between murdering people and a violent revolt (not really, but one is justified and the other is not). There are a lot of people with ideas on what comes next if the Filipino people should ever develop a backbone and fight for what’s theirs… one needs to figure out the first step of the plan though..

        Do you kill the politicians and start a revolt? If so, who’s going to start it and how do they plan on seeing it through?

        1. Sorry, my message was partially a rant, the other being an idea which shouldnt be taken literally. Its just that, we constantly put ourselves deeperin a hole with no ways of escape, if we try to change our gov. officials, we still have the large majority of uneducated who take up a large quantity of the vote. Then you have the universities who do little to nothing to improve their methods of education, look at UST, although behind the prestige lies the incompetence of the facualty, the use of funds, technology and even resources. Up to now we still have to depend on bulliten boards or class gov. to ddessiminate information when we already have a school website (which is totally unused by any of the facualty) with an email that could potentially be faster to get a word out, yet they have no general conceptnof time management. Then we have the misused funds, do you know that foreign med students have to pay 10, 000 US for their tuition? Yet none of it is used to benefit the students and instead goes to usless projects like the UST hotel when an extended UST hospital could have been put to better use. They even have to use Samplex, which are old exams to study, this goes against the school because they see it as cheating yet they facualty themselves refuse to give handouts or even copys of powerpoints. Even for some students to talk to a profesor at a equal lvl is impossible, you have people who treat you as a kid and brush you aside. This is just an example of incompetence for the school. Now looking at the bigger picture, how are any of us going to get any word out when people with power bluntly brush us aside or just half listen. Nothing will ever get done because of the lack of structure, organization and credibility we have. We will always follow a pattern of people who refuse to do anything for the majority.

      2. Anti-Pinoy has some… large-scale solutions – balkanization… or… complete system dissolution in favor of informal systems of government.

        1. Who are the “anti-Pinoys” you are referring to and what do you mean by “complete system dissolution in favor of informal systems of government”?

  11. Remember the French Revolution was lead by leaders, who were idealists. Then, they fought each other. Sent each other to the French Guillotine. The French King and Queen were also beheaded. Most of the French Monarchy perished in the French Guillotine. The confusion, lead to the Dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte, who invaded nearby countries and crowned himself Emperor. Same during the short-lived German Parliament government. It lead to the rule of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party. “Those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it.”This was from George Santayana, the famous Harvard Univ. Historian and Philosopher.

    1. Very true, Hyden, very true…. Consider also the following words that Rizal put in lips of Padre Florentino in El Filibusterismo:

      “I do say that we must win our freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual, loving what is just, what is good, what is great, to the point of dying for it. When a people reaches these heights, God provides the weapon, and the idols and the tyrants fall like a house of cards, and freedom shines in the first dawn. Our misfortunes are our own fault; let us blame nobody else for them….”

      ““…If Spain were to see us less tolerant of tyranny and readier to fight and suffer for our rights, Spain would be the first to give us freedom because, when the fruit of conception reaches the time of birth, woe to the mother that tries to strangle it!…”

      “…But as long as the Filipino people do not have sufficient vigour to proclaim, head held high and chest bared, their right to a life of their own human society and to guarantee it with their very blood; as long as we see our countrymen feel privately ashamed, hearing the growl of their rebelling and protesting conscience, while in the public they keep silent and even join the oppressor in mocking the oppressed; …

      “…as long as we see them wrapping themselves up in their selfishness and praising with forced smiles the most despicable acts, begging with their eyes for a share of the booty, why give them independence? With or without Spain they would be the same, and perhaps worse. What is the use of independence if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow?”

    2. the leaders the French revolt despised a monarchy and its opulence/affluence (and rightfully so, IMO). The Nazi’s hated the bankers of Europe at the time and saw them (and the people they were part of) as the oppressors of the German people/state (along with the treaty of Versailles).
      Hitler was a wildly popular guy and many of the national social projects he started in the early 1930’s brought the German economy out of the depression. It was so successful that FDR practically copied everything the Nazi’s did up until the time that Hitler decided that Germany was apparently to small. Had Hitler not turned around and done what he did, Germany would have remained a prosperous country, a model state.

  12. napansin ko lang, kung talagang may malasakit ang mga nagko comment dito sa bansang Pinas, ay ni isa walang marunong mag Tagalog.

    we are all preaching to the choir here. If we want genuine change, we must reach out to the ground, the masses which through this platform is quite ineffective.

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