The Supreme Court as the final arbiter and savior

The Supreme Court as the final arbiter and savior

This is a perfect situation where the system for checks and balance was put into place. The Executive and the Legislative have corroborated (to use a milder term than “conspired”) to tweak the budget process and allow them to abuse and misuse public funds. True, the people have a role to play in rectifying the wrongs, but the system is so corrupted that the voice of the people is rendered out of tune. The electoral ballot, the only weapon ordinary citizens have to bring about change, has been debased by vote-buying fed by this abuse of the system. Hence, in this situation, only the Judiciary stands as the institution capable of saving the nation.

Plunder and unexplained wealth complaint versus Senate President Franklin M. Drilon

Plunder and unexplained wealth complaint versus Senate President Franklin M. Drilon


It’s not enough to be angry, again

We are missing a point in debates about which way the anti-pork rallies are headed. We should not even be having those debates — whether it’s just anti-pork, or it’s straying into “anti-PNoy”.
The people are angry, period. But wait! We need to bring perspective into what is happening.
Is it enough to be angry? Do we just go through another cycle of protests?
I think the turn of events should jolt the Filipino people into wakefulness. The problem is that we easily get lulled into letting our vigilance down. After EDSA, we rode on the crest of a belief that evil has been booted out, and decency will be restored. We put down our guard until Erap’s abuses became intolerable. Then came Gloria. it took so long before we found our collective voice again and propelled PNoy to the Palace in 2010.
Again we went back to sleep, thinking “matuwid” will take us to our destination quickly. And now this.
We must realize that we have civic duties as citizens. We can’t trust government, no matter who leads it, to carry out its work with utmost sincerity and devotion without us constantly riding on its back. The temptations for abuse abound. It is our duty to keep a round-the-clock watch. The people can’t delegate that role to the bureaucracy.

Nothing good about the pork barrel

Nothing good about the pork barrel

Comedian Juana Change dresses up like pork in a barrel to express her indignation, and that of the Filipino people, against the pork barrel system in the country at the Luneta on Aug. 26. (Photo borrowed from FB wall of James Mangun)

Iloilo City fries on pork lard

There’s been a bonanza of infrastructure projects in Iloilo City which give the appearance of quickened growth and development.

The Benigno Aquino Jr. Ave. (better known as Diversion Road) is being widened with uneven surfaces. As this is being written, traffic jams are a daily occurrence just before the bridge crossing to Gen. Luna and Infante Sts. as work is implemented to add one lane to it. These projects have a total budget of P350 million. The Iloilo Esplanade, with a total length of 1.2 kilometers, was developed for P70 million. Across the river is Esplanade II, with a slightly smaller budget of P45 million.

The Elliptical Road which serves as a peripheral road that connects Leganes to Oton, passing through Pavia and San Miguel, was constructed at a cost of more than a billion pesos.

Many people are impressed at the slew of projects. Indeed, at no time in the history of Iloilo City has it witnessed a cascade of roads, bridges and other infrastructure in a short period of time. Credit is given to Senator Franklin Drilon, who allocated a huge portion of his pork barrel, and exerted his clout as then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to make this possible.

But little is being said about the cost efficiency and rationality of the projects. Nobody has challenged the pricing despite insinuations that these are grossly overpriced. There is also the issue of whether the expansion of the Diversion Road, and the bridge, are necessary in the first place. In the light of the pork barrel scam, I think the Ombudsman should investigate the issues about overpricing, and need, for the projects.

It’s hard to understand why the Diversion Road was expanded to eight lanes. It’s just a short stretch of road, although it’s become one of the busiest thoroughfares in Iloilo City. The road widening makes no sense.  At the end of the highway going to Molo is a four-lane bridge. The current configuration of six lanes makes it a formula for congestion by the time vehicles reach the foot of the bridge. The classic bottleneck problem arises.

Now that the highway is being widened to eight lanes, DPWH decided to add one lane to the bridge to make it six lanes. The first casualty of this project are commercial buildings on the southern bank of the river, including one where PAG-IBIG is housed. Moreover, the vehicles coming off this bridge will still head into congested roadways on General Luna and Infante Sts. It doesn’t make sense.

For me, the project is a big waste of money. It is also a source of big-time graft. The money allocated for this road widening could have been put to better use to build first-class roads in key sections of the city. Iloilo City isn’t just that burgeoning business district in Barangay San Rafael, Mandurriao. In fact, the neglect in other parts of the city, including the old downtown area, is causing economic blight in much of the city. An eight-lane 3-kilometer highway serves no good purpose. It’s only an excuse for more kickbacks to its patrons.

As the nation simmers in collective anger over the pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim Napoles, our people should also start looking at infrastructure projects like the ones we’ve seen in Iloilo City. These are huge sources of corruption. We should adopt a circumspect attitude when our public officials make a spectacle of ground-breaking for projects and ask: How much do they cost?

Ilonggos just don’t realize it. The city is being fried on its own lard.

Is PNoy listening to the people?

There’s no mistaking the fact that public outrage over the pork barrel scam has breached the roof. If it can be compared to a scream in the movie, “Monster University”, its volume would have overshot the meter and damaged it. The frustration, the disgust and the anger were simply too much that Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was overcome with emotion and cried. Everybody is enraged, and rightly so.

What was exposed is the P10 billion pork barrel that was disbursed through fake NGOs identified with Janet Lim-Napoles. A number of senators and congressmen have been linked to the scam, with money intended for development projects allegedly going to corruption with NGOs put up by Napoles as conduits. The cruelty of this act is palpable to everybody. In a nation where about three-fourths of the people live in abject poverty, a handful of people have schemed to siphon money that should have gone to their welfare.

But the President of the Republic, Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” C. Aquino III is unperturbed. Until now, he doesn’t seem affected by the public outrage. Noynoy is “deadma” as the conflagration of collective anger and frustration rages outside of Malacanang. This leads one to wonder: Is PNoy listening to the people?

Remove the pork, save our nation

The cauldron is boiling. Filipinos are aghast, and mad, over the insensitivity of our political leaders over the issue of the pork barrel. Both Houses of Congress have refused to conduct investigations into the scams that enabled a few people to rake in billions of pesos in pubic funds. Even the President of the Republic has shown no interest in the issue.

Is it because, as these officials claim, they are innocent? My answer is “no”. Everybody in the business is equally culpable. The corruption in the misuse of the pork barrel doesn’t end with Janet Napoles. It goes all the way up to the palace.

Let’s not kid ourselves anymore. The pork barrel is the number one reason these men and women want to be congressmen and senators. More than half of them can’t even understand the basics of legislation. Making laws, or doing things that would advance the welfare of the people, are the least of their priorities.

It’s clear the pork barrel will have to go. That’s the best course of action for this nation to survive. Remove the source of corruption, and the picture will change drastically. The rich and powerful will have less motivation to aspire for public office. Without the prospect of earning from kickbacks, they will be forced to work, as in really work.

The quicksand of corruption

PNoy is only fully aware that the pork barrel is a vital component of his carrot-and-stick strategy to controlling the Congress. He understands that corruption is a necessary evil to serve as magnet to congressmen and senators to toe his line. Without the pork barrel, PNoy knows that he will be helpless, because in the first place, he doesn’t possess the leadership to steer the ship on the basis of principle and the common good. The corruption of the pork barrel is like a quicksand from which the PNoy administration can find no escape, and the entire nation will be swallowed with him.

Scams and more scams

The people shouldn’t really be shocked at the magnitude of the P10-billion pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles.
We only have ourselves to blame. This didn’t happen overnight. We allowed it to happen. Nobody, except for a few, really complained. The majority of the people, an overwhelming majority, took things for granted.
Pretty soon, Ilonggos will come to realize that a billion-peso scam has been taking place, and continues to take place, in the Iloilo City Hall.
The facts are only starting to emerge, and the Ombudsman is having a busy time trying to follow leads with help from the Commission on Audit.
When this blows up, Ilonggos will have nobody to blame but themselves.
The media tried to open the can of worms, but many Ilonggos even put the lid back on.