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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Political Dynasty and Pork Barrel as Cause of Corruption in the Philippines

Image from pinoyexchange.com

I read this article on the Philippine Inquirer today. The article has supported my contention that if the pork barrel system is eliminated, only the public- service oriented politicians will run for public office. In another article recently, I learned that there are now more than 260 political dynasties in the Philippines.

In my province, Marinduque, the Reyes family ( mother and son) is the political DYNASTY that had ruled the province for the last 40 years or so. If they win this May election, their political clout will extend another four years. Hopefully, Marinduque voters will elect the candidates that will improved the economy and lives of its residents.

Today's article is titled "Political dynasties are Increasing" and written by Neal Cruz, dated 4/29/10. Here is the article for your reading pleasure. Comments anyone?

"IT IS ONLY 10 DAYS TO ELECTION DAY, AND to give local candidates a chance to air their programs of government, we have shifted our invited guests from the national to local candidates. Last Monday, the guests were Pasay mayoralty candidate Peewee Trinidad, Parañaque mayoralty candidate Eduardo Zialcita, vice mayoralty candidate (and actor) Anjo Yllana, and Edwin Olivarez, candidate for the congressional seat to be vacated by three-termer Zialcita. Olivarez, a member of the Olivarez family dynasty of Parañaque, was vice governor of Laguna. He ran for governor in 2007 but was defeated. He faces a member of another political dynasty, the Bernabes.

Zialcita, Olivarez and Yllana denounced the shady contracts that the Bernabe administration entered into and the funds that it cannot account for. Judging from the amount that Parañaque paid for lampposts and the number of lampposts actually put up, each post cost Parañaque taxpayers P450,000 each, Zialcita said. There are millions of pesos more that have been spent by the Parañaque government but which it cannot account for, Zialcita added. He promised a clean government if he becomes mayor.

Curiously, the three Parañaque leaders kept praising Pasay’s Peewee Trinidad, saying they want to model Parañaque after Pasay, which has its own government-operated hospital and university, while Parañaque has none. Ironically, Trinidad has been suspended as Pasay mayor and is now running to reclaim his seat.

“Why don’t you just make Peewee your mayor?” the Parañaque trio was asked.

“If that becomes possible,” Zialcita answered, “I will welcome it.”

Trinidad has long been a political leader of Pasay (working in the shadow of Pablo Cuneta, Sharon’s father) but he has no political dynasty. On the other hand, many of Metro Manila’s cities and municipalities have political dynasties fighting it out.

In Pateros, the Cayetano and Tinga dynasties are fighting for dominance. Dante Tinga, a former congressman and retired associate justice of the Supreme Court, is running for mayor against the wife of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano. Alan’s sister Pia is running for reelection as senator. Dante’s son, Mayor Freddie, is running for congressman.

In Caloocan, Baby Asistio, son of long-time Mayor Macario Asistio and brother of former Mayor Boy Asistio, has just been cleared by the Commission on Elections to run for mayor.

In Quezon City, Joy Belmonte, daughter of Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, is running for vice mayor. The Mathay dynasty is fielding three members: Ismael for mayor, son Chuck for congressman, and granddaughter (and actress) Ara Mina for councilor. The Defensor dynasty has father Mat running for reelection as congressman and son Mike for mayor. However, a strong contender in the mayoralty race, Rep. Annie Rosa Susano, still has no family dynasty to speak of.

In Valenzuela, hometown of the future first lady, there are the Gatchalians, in Malabon the Oretas, in Muntinlupa the Biazons, in Makati the Binays, etc., etc.

The Constitution, prohibits, very clearly, family dynasties. But because no lawmaker has introduced any bill to implement the constitutional prohibition, family dynasties have increased all over the Philippines as the Inquirer series on the front page has shown. It is as if the politicians are in a hurry to establish their own dynasties before the prohibition becomes reality. (I think this will never happen. Who will present or vote for an implementing bill as almost all the legislators, senators and congressmen are members of political dynasties?)

* * *

By the way, do you know that councilors now have their own pork barrel funds, the same as that enjoyed by members of Congress, although in smaller amounts? If reports are true, each Quezon City councilor has a pork barrel of P43 million a year. Wow! And all the projects that we see are waiting sheds.

This is clearly an abuse of the council’s budget-making powers, in the same way that the congressional pork barrel is an abuse of its budget-making power. If we do not protest this abuse, very soon even the barangay councils will have their own pork barrel.

This is not the only abuse. Most city and municipal councils and provincial boards also buy, using taxpayers’ money, vehicles which they give to their councilors and board members for free.

I don’t see why it is necessary to give them free vehicles. Councils and provincial boards meet, on the average, only once a week. All of them already have their own vehicles (many of them more than one), they go to the provincial capitol or city hall for their sessions only once a week, so why do we taxpayers have to give them free vehicles?

Ever since I became a journalist in the mid-’50s, media and the public have been denouncing the pork barrel system. The president can stop it by not submitting any budget for pork, disguised of course for some other purpose, such as poverty alleviation, etc. In reality, it is only the poverty of the lawmakers that is alleviated while the taxpayers sink deeper into poverty.

But presidents want the pork barrel system to continue because it is a means by which they bribe legislators to do what they want. The hundreds of millions of pesos in pork that each lawmaker gets is too much a temptation for them to forego. Some lawmakers don’t get them, but 99.9 percent of them do.

The pork is spent supposedly on public works projects. Legislators become duplicate public works departments. Read the Constitution and you will not find any provision giving this power to lawmakers. What the Constitution says the lawmakers should do is to make laws, nothing else.

The pork barrel system is the cause of most corruption. It should be abolished".

Amen, Amen I say to the last sentence in bold!

1 comment:

Sidney said...

Political dynasties and pork barrels will never disappear since the politicians will never vote for this...
I guess most of the people want to become politicians to become rich.. :-(

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