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On the pork barrel system

TRUTHFULLY, Justice Agustin S. Dizon (ret.)

Ten years ago or exactly on March 11, 2003, the then Senator Panfilo M. Lacson delivered a privilege speech in the Senate calling for scrapping of the so-called pork barrel system which he described as a very corrupt and corrupting system in our political institutions. Our nation did not listen then. Nowadays, the call of ex-senator Lacson for said scrapping has been revived and is presently gaining strong support from many quarters. As Mr. Lacson ably pointed out, “Pork Barrel” every year runs to billions of pesos which our people lose. They lose these billions to the many deep pockets of corruption. He gave the breakdown as follows:
• 2% goes to the Commission of Audit as S.O.P.
• 10% is given to the district engineer and other officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
• 2% is passed on to the barangay chairman.
• 14% goes to the contractor – 10% in profit and 4% as value-added tax, thank God!
• 5-10%, if mayor or governor so demands.
• And – hold your breath – 20% of project cost is earmarked for the legislator who identifies the project.
Shares sometimes vary depending on greed.

In his privilege speech, ex-senator Lacson called the lawmakers of the Senate and the House of Representatives to voluntarily give up their pork allocations which if heeded can help alleviate the burgeoning budget deficit. By way of buttressing his arguments, he stated thus:

“Mr. President, it is a simple choice between self-respect and self-aggrandizement.

That is exactly my point. Those among us whose hands remain untainted and unsoiled by the fruits of corruption from the evil “pork” must now be insulated from the temptation it may bring upon us. How? Let’s try scrapping the “pork.” There is life without it!

We all know who we are and what we are on this issue. That is one thing we are all sure about. Mine are not speculations – I definitely have my own sources. The figures I brought out earlier are never a figment of my imagination.

If the “pork barrel” stinks, how much longer must we suffer the stench? I believe it is time to abolish it altogether.
Mr. President, we were elected by the Filipino people to make good laws for the common good and never to make gold under the “pork barrel” system. We are here to make laws, not to build roads and bridges.

We were voted into office to provide check and balance under the principle of powers; and not to accept fat checks to enhance our bank account balance.

Former French President and Prime Minister, the late Jean-Raymond Pompidou, was correct. There is a whale of difference between politician and a statesman. He said, “while statesman places himself at the service of the nation, a politician places the nation at his own personal service.”

With the “pork barrel” system, we are all perceived as dirty, corrupt and greedy politicians. Without it, we can all become better statesmen and public servants.

Whenever our committees investigate anomalies in government, does it not occur to us how equally guilty they think the legislators could be?

Mr. President, pardon my asking. There are all kinds of arguments to defend the “pork.” Its advocates invent new methods and formulas to make every legislator happy. Ironically, in the mind of every Filipino, they are all mad and madly corrupted by it.
I know that the park barrel system has never been legally flawed. In fact, the Supreme court has ruled on its constitutionality. But the Supreme Court never ruled that scrapping the “pork barrel” system would be unconstitutional either.

I can only hope the Senate leadership will take a serious look at this proposal and not simply toss it to the dust heap of the Philippine Senate history.

I am sure to lose some friends and create more enemies in this 12th Congress. I am sure skeptics will taunt me and the cynics will mock me without end.”

Capping his arguments, Senator Lacson courageously said that “It is time to bring the “pork barrel” system down. Or, we all go down under.”

Considering that the rationality and soundness of the proposal of then senator Lacson ten years ago has never been disputed soundly by those who favor and are profiting with the pork barrel allocation system, I do believe that ultimately Mr. Lacson, even though he is now a private citizen only will succeed in his desire to abolish the pork barrel system for the sake of upholding honesty and integrity among our lawmakers.

Hep! Hep! Hooray for ex-senator Panfilo M. Lacson. I salute you sir as well as those who favour the scrapping of the pork barrel system!

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