pork barrel, corruption, poverty (updated)

 “The President has said that PDAF is the share of the people … In theory, PDAF is really a good thing.” 

that’s abigail valte speaking for the prez (i wonder who fed her those lines).  and here’s senator chiz saying the same thing in other words:

“The PDAF system is a way to listen to the opinion of those on the ground – what each district and barangay needs and not just dictated by the secretary (of the various departments).

but but but, clearly, the benefits of the pork barrel that the people get to share in, aside from dole-outs and scholarships for the relatively few lucky ones, are quickie projects without longterm impact on the people’s economic well-being.  read interaksyon.com‘s analysis: From waiting sheds to roads leading nowhere, pork barrel leaves trail of waste 

Human Development Network Foundation coordinator Toby Monsod said pork barrel has created the “divide-by-N” syndrome.

“The divide-by-N syndrome is the mechanical and feckless dissipation of government funds across localities instead of their rational allocation to where these might have the most impact,” Monsod said on the sidelines of yesterday’s launch of the 2012/2013 Philippine Human Development Report.

Among such wasteful uses of public funds are the construction of countless bridges that lead to nowhere, dirt roads interrupted by occasional concrete paving and half-roofed schools, she said.

…”The congressman will always give pork barrel to something that they can see immediately, and people can say ‘thank you,'” Monsod said.

“In other words, the projects become segmented in that sense. For example, if you have P100 million, you can build a strategic road connecting two municipalities. But if you have to divide it up between 20 mayors, it becomes P5 million per mayor. What you have is welcome arches all over the place,” she said.

…The latest Philippine Human Development Report cited the country’s 87 airports, many of which are within two hours away from each other. The report also pointed to 140 seaports, 40 of which hardly have any traffic.

“This results in an annual allocation of maintenance funds so spread out as to be ridiculously small,” the report said.

“The consequence is you give up projects, you give up connective infrastructure and other interventions that have … spillover effects, have longer term benefits. That’s the consequence. So if you want to keep the pork barrel, this is what you’re giving up,” Monsod said.

indeed.  it should be obvious by now, into the pork barrel’s third decade post-EDSA, that whatever they call it — countrywide development fund, congressional initiative allocation, or priority development assistance fund — pork barrel by any other name stinks just as bad.

it should be obvious by now, even to the president’s fanclub, that the pork barrel scheme is an epic failure as aid to national development.  whether it’s the president’s or the senators’ and reps’ pork barrel, it’s spent mostly just for show and short-term gratification of constituents, and such an extravagant show at that, in aid of papogi points for the next elections.

even if there were no bolanteses or napoleses, even if no one were diverting the monies into ghost ngos or sticky legislative pockets and private bank accounts and ritzy condos and grand mansions here and abroad, palpak pa rin ang pork barrel as “share of the people” because it is a scatter-brained disorganized affair that encourages corruption while failing to address the people’s long-term needs.

the senators and congressment addicted to pork could say, of course, that long-term development isn’t their mandate, after all,but the president’s.  and they do need funds to dole out to poor constitutents who are forever asking for help pang-ospital at panlibing, pangmatrikula at pantawid.  but really, magkano ba ang napupunta sa ganitong gastusin?  surely just a small fraction of the 70 M that each rep gets, and even a smaller fraction of the 200 M that a senator gets, EVERY YEAR.

take note: in cory’s time

With an initial funding of P2.3 billion, the CDF was supposedly designed to support small local infrastructure and other priority community projects, which were not included in the national infrastructure program of massive and expensive projects.

… each lawmaker was assigned P12.5 million of CDF every year. In succeeding years, the amount grew steadily as “special purpose funds” and insertions in the budgets of executive departments and agencies started to creep into the national budget. At the time, legislators drew amounts for their pet projects from at least five different sources of pork barrel allocations.

The first of these funds is the School Building Fund, which was originally part of the budget of the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS, now the Department of Education or DepEd). Created in 1995, the School Building Fund allowed each legislator access to P4.5 million a year, supposedly for the construction of school buildings in his or her district.

and then in fvr’s time:

In 1995, each legislator was also allotted P500,000 for the construction of farm-to-market roads, using funds from the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA)

In addition, the legislators also allotted themselves P30 million each per year from the Public Works Fund (PWF).

Each lawmaker also had at least P15 million in Congressional Initiative Allocation (CIA) every year.

CIAs are budget items incorporated in allocations for various agencies over which legislators exercised the power to direct, how, where, and when these amounts were to be disbursed. Most of these funds were inserted in the budgets of DepEd, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Health (DOH).

Parreño wrote that the higher the rank of the legislator, the bigger the CIAs he could get. Senior committee chairpersons, for instance, could then draw up to P100 million per year in CIAs, he added.

and then in erap’s time:

In the year 2000, the CDF morphed into what is now known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF. Under the PDAF system, each district and party-list representative gets P70 million a year, while each of the 24 senators, P200 million a year, of pork allocations.

House members may spend a maximum of P30 million on “soft” projects (education, health, and other social services projects), and the remaining P40 million, on “hard” or infrastructure projects. The senators, meanwhile, may spend P100 million on soft projects, and another P100 million on hard projects.

tama naman si miriam, we voted them into congress to craft laws and serve as check and balance to the executive and judicial branches.  what business do they have with roads and bridges at kung anu-ano pang infrastrucutre na madalas ay sub-standard naman ang kalidad dahil nga napupunta sa mga komisyon ang mas malaking bahagi ng pondo?

and take note how the PDAF has grown by leaps and bounds from arroyo’s time to aquino’s now.  here is agham.org‘s compilation based on data from the dept of budget and management website:

PDAF through the years
2008      7,892,500,000.00       7.89 B
2009      9,665,027,000.00       9.67 B
2010     10,861,211,000.00      10.86 B
2011     24,620,000,000.00     24.62 B
2012     24,890,000,000.00     24.89 B
2013     24,790,000,000.00     24.79 B
2014     27,000,000,000.00     25.2 B

and what about presidential pork?  read ‘President has P1-trillion pork barrel,’ or so former national treasurer leonor briones and bayan muna partylist rep neri colmenares reportedly suspect, based on the palace’s proposed 2.6 T budget for 2014 that’s more than 500 B larger than the 2013 budget of 2.06 T.

such gargantuan amounts for spending and nothing to show for it other than a people increasing in number and in poverty, and, worse, a national debt that has ballooned to P5.325 trillion ($129.2 billion), rising by some P400 B per year since 2010.

this is not to say that it’s because of the pork barrel alone that we remain a poor undeveloped basket-case of a third world country.  rather, it’s because the larger development strategy, i.e, the import-dependent export-oriented development program imposed on us since the foreign-debt crisis in marcos times, administration after administration, simply doesn’t work, the benefits do not trickle down, have never trickled down, to the masses.  yumayaman lang lalo ang mayayaman na, forget “inclusive growth.”   and this is where, i suppose, the pork barrel scheme comes in, the president’s as well as the legislature’s, as compensatory mechanisms?  while waiting kuno for the benefits to trickle down to the poor, pork barrel na lang muna, sabay conditional cash transfers at kung ano-ano pang dole-out gimmicks?

what a waste of good money.  what if, instead, the president channelled all that cash into an economic development program inspired by the vision of a sustainable, modern and diversified, domestic industrial economy.  read giovanni tapang’s National industrialization is not passe:

Having a sound industrial policy that focuses on modernizing agriculture and shoring up our capability to locally produce capital goods is key to the establishment of a modern and diversified industrial economy. We need to build, among others, our own base metals industry, chemical industries, machinery manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, electronics, industries for food processing, textile, garment, mass housing and agricultural commodities. Having these built here in the country would not only address the problem of producing our basic needs but would also secure jobs for many so that they will stay home instead of going abroad.

The objective of building these industries is to maximize self-sufficiency in the local industrial production of capital, provide intermediate and consumer goods for domestic needs and to ensure food security and self-sufficiency in the country. In generating and mobilizing domestic capital, we create real jobs and ensure rapid and sustained economic growth.

National industrialization is the opposite of the current pattern of production, investments and trade where it is the export of extractive raw materials and agricultural products that is a primary activity in the country. In turn, we import most of the things that we need as finished goods as well as agricultural commodities and capital. Local value added is usually only on labor done in reassembly or repackaging of manufactures for export most of which have a very large import component.

The large service sector and the ever growing number of overseas Filipino workers signal the urgency of our need to build domestic industries in order to stem unemployment. Manufacturing is as small as it was in the 1950s in terms of percentage at slightly less than a quarter of the total economy while services rose to its current levels of nearly 50 percent of GDP. In this sense, the need for national industrialization is really decades old. This historical need does not make it passe, it only makes it more urgent.

alas, the powerful ones that we elected into office are obviously, yet again, not up to the challenge.  we really should all level up, choose more intelligently next time around.  a senate investigation of the pork barrel scam should help enormously, especially if it’s televised.  says conrado de quiros   :

… televised congressional hearings and impeachments are an education unto themselves. The Erap impeachment, which had the deepest impact on public consciousness, shows just how deep that can be. For the first time, people began talking like lawyers. For the first time, the citizens got to have an appreciation of law, not as lokohan but as an instrument of justice. Unfortunately, Gloria replaced Erap and that education swiftly unraveled, the lessons went for nothing. What lessons may be imparted by a televised hearing of the pork scam can always be conserved, strengthened, and promoted, over the next three years. P-Noy will still be president then.

Particularly today, with the Internet, cellphones, the social media, and other instruments of rapid and mass communication, the prospects for the public weighing in on the hearings multiply tenfold. I repeat my proposition yesterday: Government alone cannot stop corruption, it needs the public to help in it. It needs the outrage of the people to stop it. It needs the fury of the people to stop it. It needs the condemnation of the corrupt by the people to stop it. It needs the people marching in the streets, or its modern equivalent in Facebook, text messages, and blogs, shouting at the top of their voices, “Tama na, sobra na, tigilan na,” to stop it.

Alongside an ardent campaign launched by government or civil society, or both, to make people realize that taxes are their money, that the corrupt are kawatan, no more and no less than pickpockets and snatchers, that corruption is in fact stealing from them, who knows? Maybe that televised hearing can rouse enough public interest and indignation to spark a cultural upheaval. That’s what an education is.

hear, hear!