Monday, August 19, 2013

Workers to Malacanang: Why pork doubled under PNoy?

19 August 2013

Wary of mixed signals where investigations on the pork barrel scam will lead to, the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) is asking Malacanang why, instead of disappearing under the tuwid the daan, appropriations for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) notoriously known as pork barrel, more than doubled under President Aquino.  

Citing figures available in Department of Budget and Management’s website, the group disclosed that based on annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) allocations for PDAF more than doubled under President Aquino, from P10.9-B at the end of Gloria Arroyo’s term in 2010 to P24.6-B in 2011 as shown in the table below.

in Php billion
Proposed 2014
Source: DBM website

“While we laud the efforts of the Commission on Audit in exposing the colossal extent of this pork barrel scam, we are likewise sceptical on where the campaign is leading to,” stated PM Chair Renato Magtubo, pointing to the mixed signals the people are getting from different branches of government.

Magtubo said, people who have no access to basic information like this may have assumed that PNoy’s tuwid na daan has already made efforts to cut or get rid of the pork barrel. 

“It shows otherwise with appropriations under the proposed 2014 budget increasing to P25.2-B, a billion higher than the previous year. Pork under PNoy turned into beef,” said the former party-list representative and whistle blower of the controversial power bill payola scam in 2000.

And such increase, Magtubo continued, happened even with the admission from DBM Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad that there never was a study stating positive economic impact resulting from the use of pork barrel.

The group likewise observes that the hunt for pork scammers is quite selective and centers on Napoles rather than on personalities who really have control and power over the purse.

PM, which joins other groups in calling for the abolition of the pork barrel, called on the workers and the people to put more pressure on the government by joining direct actions like the all-sector march to Luneta being organized for August 26 or initiating other forms of protest. 

Magtubo said the Filipino people is facing solid and organized resistance from the gatekeepers of this traditional political (trapo) system, with members of Congress closing ranks against the mounting movement calling for the abolition of PDAF and other perks.

He also called on all anti-pork advocates to join hands in developing alternatives to the pork barrel system.

One option, he said, is to pool all funds intended for social services and put them into an institutionalized system of universal social protection such as universal healthcare, education, farmers insurance, employment guarantee, or subsidies to essential services such as water, power, mass transport system, housing, among others, with determination of the needs of social classes done in participatory budget process.

“In this way social services are provided by the State as a right or entitlement of every citizen rather than as charity from politicians under the system of patronage politics,” explained Magtubo.

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