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Circle

After the death of Joker Arroyo in 2015, Sen. Panfilo Lacson has found himself alone in the pork barrel wilderness that is the Philippine Congress.
He could be the only lawmaker consistent in his stand against receiving pork barrel — in whatever name and form, and from any Malacañang benefactor — that he could smell one from afar, including this latest avalanche of funding inserted into President Duterte’s first national budget by their own recipients.
Lacson is alarmed over the insertions in the P3.3 trillion national budget, the first under the Duterte administration and also given the populist name “budget for change.”
Lacson does not want lawmakers ro have a say in manner of spending the budget they have approved. This, he says, constitutes pork barrel, illegal and unconstitutional according to a Supreme Court ruling in 2013.
Pork barrel, as always, is a magnet for corruption.
Losing the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has caused former President Noynoy Aquino to lose his once tenacious hold on the majority of the lawmakers, who were quick to jump ship when the Liberal Party’s started sinking.
But Aquino did not give up pork just easily. He did try to keep it in various forms of his succeeding national budget after Janet Napoles was exposed and sent to jail, but his influence was no longer the same.
Today, the change President Duterte has vowed to bring has come under fire from Lacson as there seems to be none coming.
Lacson says he can only hope change has come, but says he sees more of the same salient policies unchanged.
Other than his war on drugs, which has resulted in the death of more than 6,000, majority of which was alleged as extrajudicial killings, many sectors have found Duterte’s vows for reforms mere lip service and aimed at merely gaining populist points.
These include President Duterte’s now seemingly soft stand against “Endo” or contractual labor, the increase on the Social Security System benefits, the new taxes and the pork barrel, among others.
Lacson almost caused a deadlock during the plenary debates on the budget when he insisted on the removal of P8.3 billion lawmakers took from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) budget and redirceted toward the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), where the lawmakers would have a say in the indentification of projects which will bear their names, for sure.
Lacson said several congressmen from the ARMM have expressed regret of not having more than P1.5 billion each in projects.
Favored lawmakers, Lacson revealed, would get P5 billion and this incensed the veteran lawmaker even more, saying: “Filipinos are made to believe that PDAF is dead after the SC ruling. I am not stupid. Filipinos are not stupid. They are just resigned (to this), I think. After all these years that I and my staff scrutinize the budget books year in and year out, I know pork when I see it. Our people, especially our taxpayers, should know the real score behind all these pretenses and denials about the existence of pork.”
Malacañang has been silent on the pork barrel issue. It has left its congressional allies to defend their grease.
And we know when needed, Philippine lawmakers can  find more ways to circumvent the laws — even SC rulings — than there could be many ways to skin a cat or a pig’s carcass.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, for one, reiterated there’s no pork in 2017 budget.
Pimentel said lawmakers have  identified their pet projects before the approval and enactment of the budget, so there was no post-enactment intervention  that the SC had earlier declared unconstitutional.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, another veteran Senate hand and a member of the LP, also said lawmakers are no longer given lump-sum and discretionary funds like in the past. He would receive his, of course.
Lacson sees the old and the same, and for them he asks: “Change is coming? Maybe, pero (but) it’s (pork allocations) changing hands from LP congressmen to those from Mindanao.”
But Lacson is alone.
And like the presidents before him, President Duterte can only keep a tenable hold on the majority of congress if he can keep them well-oiled and running almost unobstructed.
Everyone who passed by Malacañang has mastered this art.
And the circle runs like that.

2 comments

  • Akoy Pinoy

    So what's the solution? Get rid of Congress that stifles the President if they don't get their share of the loot? The "honorables" occupying the house are a bunch of blood suckers that needs to be eradicated.

    Akoy Pinoy Thursday, 12 January 2017 02:08 Comment Link
  • lindy

    what else is new?

    lindy Wednesday, 11 January 2017 01:10 Comment Link

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