UP Kilos Na! and the UP Faculty for the Abolition of the Pork Barrel System and the Presidential Pork Barrel Fund
Pardon the pun, but the pork barrel issue has hogged the headlines once again.
The notorious Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of 5 senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives was allegedly channeled to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) they had allegedly handpicked, through certain government-owned corporations, and supposedly in exchange for handsome commissions (Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 15, 2013).
Currently, the PDAF allocated to each senator is P200 million per year, and P70 million to each congressman per year. For a full term of six years, a senator is expected to receive P1.2 billion, while a congressman is expected to receive P210 million for each three-year term. In practice, some lawmakers receive more, others less, than their regular pork barrel, which is often used to fund infrastructure projects in the legislators' respective districts.
The PDAF or pork barrel is supposed to be distributed to lawmakers to make improvements in their regions. In practice, pork barrel politics is characterized by budget appropriations to accommodate constituents, campaign donors, or potential supporters. It is only one of the lamentable outcomes of family dynasties entrenched in the legislative and executive branches of government whose fraudulent political culture transforms politicians into a powerful syndicate engaged in extravagant spending, institutionalized bribery, massive looting of public funds for private use.
It is not surprising that lawmakers are the most vocal in opposing any move to scrap the pork barrel. Most of these lawmakers claim that they do not have a hand in “hard” projects involving infrastructure. Yet at the very least, they retain influence in choosing the contractors for their share in the pork barrel funds. That PDAF is poised to increase from its current FY 2013 of P24.79 billion to P25.24 billion for FY 2014 is unacceptable.
While the Aquino administration vehemently denies the corrupting influence of the pork barrel system, it cannot deny pork barrel allocations supportive of President Aquino’s agenda. Case in point is the inexplicable delay of pork barrel funds to those who were opposed to the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona compared against Aquino’s allies on the issue who got their pork on time. The pork barrel system is indeed a useful tool to make lawmakers toe the line, and to punish or warn citizens who are inclined to an alternative.
We, the concerned faculty of the University of the Philippines Diliman, therefore stand with those progressive sectors of our society who are demanding the abolition of pork barrel. In solidarity with our progressive lawmakers who oppose the pork barrel system, we demand that public funds must be used for genuine and comprehensive development for the benefit of the underprivileged. We urge our fellow faculty members who care about our nation to support House Bill 1535, or “An Act Abolishing the Pork Barrel System by Prohibiting the Allocation and Use of Funds for Such Purpose” as the most sensible legislative agenda to end the evils of pork barrel politics –corruption, vote-buying, patronage, waste of people’s money, and rent-seeking behaviors of lawmakers.
We demand transparency and prudence from the Aquino Administration and its allies, and the abolition of the Presidential Pork Barrel with an exposed amount of Php 1 trillion.
We demand the rechanneling of the P25.24 billion pork barrel for FY 2014 to subsidize basic social services such as health, education, mass housing, land reform, improvement of mass transportation, and other social services.
We also urge all concerned agencies of the government to leave no stone unturned in investigating the latest pork barrel scam of Janet Lim-Napoles and all those parties involved. Ten billion pesos is no small amount. It could have been used to finance education, health services, and countryside infrastructure. Such scam comes in a bad timing when our economy is supposed to be growing. The illusive trickling down of such growth may be largely due to the dissolute fattening of the pockets of the few who are rich while depriving the poor of the goods and services necessary to keep them afloat amidst the global economic crisis.
As faculty members, we cannot remain socially indifferent and politically inept in the face of this massive conspiratorial robbery going on against our people. Together we stand with our people as we demand transparency, accountability, and honesty from our public servants. For we, too, the faculty of the premier state university, are also public servants. As public servants we are accountable to our people, especially the poor. We are not above the law.
Abolish the pork barrel system now!
Abolish the 1 trillion Presidential Pork Barrel of President Noynoy Aquino!
Junk PDAF and other similar allocations in the 2014 national budget!
Rechannel the pork barrel funds to social services!
Make people and parties involved in pork barrel scam and corruption pay!
Fight for greater state subsidy for basic social services now!