*this post is not mine. for the sake of updating this blog with the current issues, i decided to repost this blog since it contains an insight that is so essential. feel free to comment on this. 😉 -gj
The Pork Barrel and the Demon-Possessed Man
By: Bryan Maga | LLB, UP College of Law | Lifebox UPLB |
We know how to be concerned. We are capable. We just have to change the headline.
If you are one with the public outcry, you are a national hero even though it’s past August 26. You are a hero without even dying A national hero since you are concerned with a national issue- one that affects you and your family and your future; one that affects you directly even if you are not yet earning, by the mere fact that you buy a pad of paper or a drink for your thirst. For sure, you have bought much more expensive things than that. Then, you’re in, you’re paying taxes to the government.
Even if you consider yourself a black sheep of society, is not your beer being taxed? And even if you don’t feel directly affected, would you not care for that boy you see on khaki shorts challenging the distance from school towards home, who could have been a beneficiary of OUR money? And the loss of money is not actually the point, the bottom line is- is not the Lord the God of justice and is exalted if justice is achieved (Isaiah 5:16, Isaiah 61:8, Psalm 50:6)?
There are a lot of angles to the present issue, and a lot more tentacles. There are investigations here and there. The issue on the alleged misuse of 10 billion pesos of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), derogatorily called “pork barrel” (Imagine how big this is- there will be no billions if there are no hundreds of millions, if no tens of millions, if no millions, if no hundreds of thousands…if no thousands…if no hundreds, if no tens, if no 8 pesos which is equivalent to one jeepney ride. Now, enlarge.), accumulated allegedly in a span of 10 years, is only based on the NBI probe, thanks to the whistleblowers (former employees who became whistleblowers because JLN did some acts due to threat that they may put up a competing pork barrel leakage business). May not be good whistleblowers, but whistleblowers anyway. In fact, other people connected to the fake NGOs are one by one revealing themselves and spilling the beans since, for one, it was said that it is the only way to atone for their sins for the people. To count, there were some 5 Senators and 23 Congressmen implicated on this.
And there was the special audit of COA for PDAF used in 2007-2009. This is another report, aside from the NBI’s, coming from the constitutionally-mandated watchdog of public fund disbursements. It showed irregularities or “misuse” of some 6 billion pesos by some 200 lawmakers. Then, there was recently a news that some 400 million plus of PDAF was channeled to fake NGOs by some 26 lawmakers sometime in 2010-2011, the foundations not even being linked to JLN, an indication that the scam is bigger that just her involvement. Not to mention there is the issue called “pork swapping.” With that, the public can anticipate the findings of the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC), headed by the DOJ and Ombudsman, which will conduct the more comprehensive investigation on these matters.
Then there is the issue of the surrender of JLN to the President. Contrary to some criticisms, that situation, I think, was wise and in order. It is to ensure the safety of JLN who is logically subject to death threats of former padrinos and it is a clear signal that the government is taking the matter seriously, no matter what the publicity cost is.
Then, there is another angle that our Senators and Congressmen were prejudged. I do agree. While we must maintain watchful and informed eyes, we must avoid an equal evil- hasty generalization that all are corrupt and that all funds were misused. The reports, whatever source, needs to be validated. We cannot discount the fact that like what the Bible has said, it is not money which is a root of all kinds of evil; it is the love of it (1 Timothy 6:10). We cannot neglect the truth that so many people, so many students, so many patients, so many far-flung barangays, so many schools, so many children benefitted from the pork barrel, even from the President’s Social Fund, for decades. It is not the pork that is bad, it is the chopper (parang porkchop, but treating it separately hehe). Pork is good. What is evil is to love the “pork” as to “chop” the lion’s share out of it for personal interests. It is injustice.
My stand? Pork is public money and it is good. It is a source of needed proteins and vitamins for the schools, communities, families and those whose concerns are not immediately addressed by the national government, with its bureaucracy and varying priorities. Pork is somewhat like a direct grant, with few safety nets, easy to be given when time and life is of the essence. Not all needs of the nation can be itemized and listed in the law.
So what is evil, or correctly, who are evil? The choppers, the lovers of money. The pork is like a car, it is very useful until it gets into the hands of a drunkard. Not all lawmakers though. So it is okay to scrap the pork barrel, but with the right perspective. Not that it is the source of corruption but that it is being misused by corrupt hands.
I do agree that instead of pork barrel with the discretion to recommend projects with predetermined NGOs under the hands of Congress, the prerogative must be given back to the Executive branch which is the proper and constitutional department which implements laws, including the financial edicts. And proper mechanism must be put in place to still have the pork or some say the “pig” subject to effective, transparent and preventive safety nets, and use it still to finance lawful worthwhile causes. The lawmakers who presumably know the heartbeat of their respective constituent districts may be allowed to suggest and defend their proposed projects, without having a hand on whoever will be tapped to implement. It is also the time to remove the fakes since being an NGO is really a very noble endeavor. And it is time to punish the guilty with the power of the sword divinely delegated to our government.
Now, at this juncture, while I blabber on the pork barrel this long, where is the story about the demon-possessed man? Well, the demon-possessed man is the one reading this article.
Joke It is a pity that we can see and read and watch the current events but fail to recognize a much more important headline. We are so concerned about the “pork.” In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus freed a man from his long bondage to sin and demon-possession. Doing this consequently costs the lives of two thousand pork. A large herd. A large source of profit. For the people at that time, the pigs were more important so they pleaded for Him to go away. But for Jesus, one man freed and reconciled to His love is far greater, much more exciting news. The man’s freedom is more important than the loss of the pigs. Not that He permits the wastage of resources but that He loves people so dearly that He looks at the deeper, more important, in fact, the basic issue. Only Him can set us free from whatever that binds and entangles so we can be laudable civilians not just spiritual stalwarts.
People say that scrapping the pork barrel will eliminate opportunities for corruption. Well, scrap everything and corruption will still remain- in the hearts of people. We scrap just the opportunity not the real problem. Funds will still be misused as long as there are greedy public officers and an electorate that is willing to be deceived by the glitters of gold and empty promises. There will still be fake NGOs. There will still be liable whistleblowers. There will still be JLNs.
Our response to the issue on the pork barrel shows that we know how to be concerned. We are so capable. We just have to change the headline. What people need is spiritual freedom.
The headline is, we need Jesus.