Presidential hat trick: The pork is intact

President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III seems to have mastered the art of the sleight of words.

scrap porkIn a nationally televised address on Friday, Aug. 23, Pres. Aquino told the Filipino people in so many words that “it’s the time to abolish the PDAF” and that he wants to set into a motion a mechanism for stricter guidelines in the dispensation of public funds for development. The well-crafted turn of phrases, however, couldn’t hide the true nature of the President’s intentions. The pork barrel will be there to stay, to be managed under new rules. The President’s trick failed to fool the people.

Listening to Pres. Aquino deliver his address was torture. It was hard to capture his drift, so to speak. I even missed that particular one line that became the headline, or misleading headline, about his plans on pork. “It’s time to abolish the PDAF,” he said. It was carefully tucked midway into his speech. It ended a paragraph, and in writing parlance, didn’t get the prominence it deserved.

As the President droned on, I was feeling short of breath. I tweeted: “Did he or didn’t he abolish pork?” or something like that. I saw tweets from the networks saying he had said it, but he said more things that left me confused. It was only later when the full text of the address was posted online that I saw for myself, the cheering was premature.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Pres. Aquino didn’t abolish the pork barrel. It’s still there in his 2014 budget proposal. What he said was that he wanted to institute safeguards to make sure the funds are properly spent. His vague point about each and every district getting a fair share for projects was the give away. When you talk of legislative districts getting equal share of the pie, that’s pork barrel. It still gives the congressman and senator a say on where the money goes.

This is the problem with Pres. Aquino. He thinks he can just explain away things and people will swallow every morsel of it. He is misjudging the mood of the people. He may have succeeded with Houdini tricks in extricating himself from tight situations before. He should heed the lessons of history: you can’t fool the people all the time.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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