As another year comes, another budget proposal comes along it as well. For fiscal year 2010, Congress is proposing a P1.541T budget. Much more than last year’s, but that’s not really the problem here. Apparently, around P65B of the money which was supposed to be for debt service has been diverted to pork barrel funds. Something very alarming considering it’s President Arroyo’s last term in office and being an election year as well. The Palace defends the amount by saying it is essential to service the constituents of lawmakers, but it is known to all that only administration-allianced lawmakers get a taste of the ‘pork’.
Under the government’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) program, each senator receives as much as P200M and each representative receives as much as P70M. It’s a big amount, but there’s really no problem if they would eventually be spent for the welfare of the Filipinos. Some lawmakers made it known as to what they spend their ‘pork’ on, take Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago as an example who spends a large part of the money on new equipment for the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). That’s a cause good enough to be under the “priority development” label. The problem is, some recipients of the funds aren’t transparent enough on their expenditures. Suspicions arise that the lawmakes funnel these taxpayers’ money into their own pockets, giving them extravagant luxuries such as mansions and posh automobiles. And an even bigger fear is that some could fund terrorist organizations with the money.
With the money they get at present, lawmakers are already capable of a lot omight ff shenanigans. Just imagine if they got twice as much? More scandals and controversies are bound to happen. Well, that’s exactly what the new budget is proposing, to almost double the amount of ‘pork’ lawmakes get.
And with that kind of proposal to be done now at this kind of year is obviously a subject of suspicion. As we all know, only the Administration allies are guaranteed to receive ‘pork’. Some opposition lawmakers get no pork at all for the entire year, and if they’re lucky they get about half of the amount they’re supposed to get. And if they do get ‘pork’ the funds are often delayed. So obviously the funds aren’t distributed fairly. Yet barely any amount of the funds are returned as surplus each year, despite some lawmakes don’t get their shares. And in addition to this, the administration allies could get additional funds at any time in the year. Does this mean the money allocated for the opposition are given to the administration?
The concept of a priority development fund is a very good one, as the officials of every area, even as little as a barangay could be powerful enough to implement basic projects themselves such as livelihood programs or basic healthcare to their constituents. Having their own money would cut the delay of making a proposal to Congress for a separate budget. However, people tend to abuse the opportunities they get and use them for the wrong reason. And this pork barrel is a fine example of an opportunity being abused. And even if the recipients of the fund have no results to show, they still get more money. The government should realize that they’re giving too much ‘pork’.