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A smokescreen not a bombshell

The special audit that the Commission on Audit (CoA) did on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was billed as an explosive document that will reveal the systematic misuse of the legislators’ fund known commonly as pork barrel.
It was a telling piece of document but it was a disappointment when it was clearly confined to the final two full years of former President Gloria Arroyo which were the usual target years when Noynoy cites practices from the crooked past.
If it was pork barrel, the clamor for the removal of which had reached full crescendo during the term of Noynoy, the audit should have not spared the first half of the term of Noynoy in which the abuse of the PDAF had reached the point that the public has said enough.
Instead of an objective report, it was a veiled shame campaign for the usual targets of the Palace who are the perceived political nemesis of Noynoy.
The campaign on the P10-billion pork barrel scam of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to link senators who are not expected to toe the line of Noynoy and the report on anomalous PDAF transactions of the CoA were practically identical.
The names referred to in the CoA report and the supposed fictitious recipients of the PDAF were also the same entities used in the demolition campaign against key opposition leaders at the start of the campaigns for the elections held last May 13.
The senators involved then said the CoA should investigate the recipients of the PDAF since legislators only identify the beneficiaries of the pork allocations but the CoA came up with the same report running down the name of the legislators who were issued the PDAF allocations.
Going through the document, the conclusion on the findings was that the Budget department had a lot of culpability for the spiriting of PDAF to ghost non-government organizations (NGOs) and funds were even disbursed to fictitious legislators during the years of audit.
A purge of government-accredited NGOs was also recommended which Noynoy should have ordered from the start of his administration only that such a move may imperil the image of yellow NGOs who are now raking in money from the conditional cash transfer program, courtesy of Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman.
The report, nonetheless, was very exhaustive in that it seems to have identified the manner by which government is being manipulated in the Executive department the agencies which implement the PDAF projects including the bidding for projects.
In one part of the CoA report, a simple dredging project for the Marikina River undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways worth P38 billion was divided into four bids of two phases for each project or a total of eight contracts.
The scheme was done to place each of the contract bid out below P5 million, which according to CoA is the threshold for the requirement to have the auction announced in a major publication.
The CoA suspects that three of the contractors for the four projects are inter-related.
The report would have been commendable, nevertheless, had it not been limited to the term of Gloria, which makes it very convenient for those in power.
The public outrage against pork barrel happened now during the term of President Aquino who had insisted that “pork is good.”
It seems that everytime a scandal blows up under Noynoy, the whole government machinery moves to dig up muck against Gloria preferably dirt which includes the current political opponents of Noynoy.
Lately, the call has been for Noynoy to give up his own pork which is much more than the total funds that all members of Congress combined receive.
The special CoA report looks like another elaborate smokescreen.

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