First there was Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF. This is a fund distributed to the officials of the government who are political allies of the President, helping them implement projects for their constituents. These allies could be a senator, a congressman, a governor, a mayor, etcetera. Meanwhile, the elected officials who belong to the opposition get their PDAF, too, but since they’re the opposition, there is delay in receiving their PDAF. To some, they don’t get to receive it at all. In short, PDAF is a prerogative of the President.
PDAF is a repackaged name for pork barrel. Previous presidents have this but they have a different name for it: National Aid to Local Government Units or NALGUs, Mindanao/Visayas Development Fund which became Countrywide Development Fund or CDF, Congressional Initiative Allocation or CIA, Rural Development Infrastructure Fund or RUDIF, etcetera. But at the end of the day, they’re pork barrel.
And since we are talking about funds, it is common sense that the one disbursing it (I’m referring to the senator, congressman, or any other politicians) should be meticulous in monitoring the amount of money being released and to monitor where it is being spent on. Because it’s a taxpayer’s money. Not a politician’s money. It came from the blood, sweat, and tears of every Filipino.
Last year, our whole country was outraged when whistleblower Benhur Luy revealed to media about the unscrupulous dealings of some senators, congressmen, and other politicians in making repetitive fund donations to the same NGOs for years. NGOs that are bogus. NGOs that Benhur Luy revealed are all owned by Janet Lim-Napoles, his second cousin. These fake NGOs made it possible for them to give huge kickbacks to the government officials involved. People trusted Benhur Luy right away because he admitted his crime to the public, that he worked for Janet Lim-Napoles as her personal assistant and that he got involved in those underhanded dealings.
There may be a lot like Janet Lim-Napoles in hiding, masterfully crafting mechanisms to earn huge amount money from government officials who are vultures in human forms. Janet Lim-Napoles then became one of the faces of corruption and Benhur Luy, because of his disclosure and his promise to tell more, was accepted as state witness.
Revelations came one after the other that shocked us all the more, thank God we didn’t die of heart attack. Instead, angry citizens went to the streets to protest PDAF and demanded for its abolition. For those of us who couldn’t participate, we watched on TV about the comings and goings of the rally. We listened to news, we watched closely about the turn of events. There were also angry protests in cyberspace particularly in Facebook. And because of our rage in different ways and forms, PDAF was removed.
Meanwhile, the state witness went all out naming names who were involved in those underhanded dealings and they were Senator Enrile, Senator Revilla, and Senator Estrada. But they denied the allegations. They said it’s not their responsibility anymore to monitor what happens to the money they donated to NGOs. They said the allegations are politically motivated. One of them asked why he is being singled out in this controversy when he is sure that there are other corrupt officials in the government. Why him? Or only them, the three of them?
And then they were arrested for further investigation. They were charged of graft and plunder over the P10-billion pork barrel scam, together with Janet Lim-Napoles. Their cohorts were also arrested. There were many others names that were revealed by Benhur Luy and these other names denied his allegations. Because the three main suspects are incumbent senators that belong to the opposition, and one of them is a senior citizen, President Noynoy (or P-Noy) detained them in a decent detention, out of fear of being accused of abuse of power by the opposition.
Justice-seeking people cried foul, they thought this unfair when there are a lot of innocent inmates languishing in jail, waiting for their trial to prove their innocence, and these senators are given special treatment as they await their trial to prove their innocence.
Senator Estrada fought back to defend his innocence, armed with so many bullets to shoot at P-Noy, as if he had already anticipated this was going to happen to him. His first shot: about the subtle ways of P-Noy in accomplishing his agenda that the general public do not know about. One of them was the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona. He revealed that senators (including him) who voted Yes to his impeachment were then given P50 million each. When the media asked Senator Drilon for confirmation if that P50 million were given as a form of “reward” for voting for impeachment of Corona, looking confused he then said, “They were meant to help the government meet its spending targets.”
Another bullet he tried to shoot at P-Noy was the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP. This is also a fund, just like PDAF, but under a different name controlled by the President through Department of Budget and Management, if I’m not mistaken. And it hit the target because the people are now questioning P-Noy about this DAP. Even if this has caused him conflict with the Supreme Court, P-Noy is strongly defending it. That it has a noble purpose. Later, we’ve learned that its existence was the idea of Budget Secretary Abad.
The media invited Secretary Abad for interviews. One I caught was this interview by Karen Davila. It was only a snippet of the interview where she asked the same question. And Secretary Abad, despite his explanations, despite his eloquence, added more to doubts than give reassurance when he said that even previous administrations have it. I won’t ever forget the face of Karen Davila. It was a face of disbelief. I thought it was a lame excuse. Oh dear, the Aquino administration is hiding something and they’re not telling it to us, his boss. Remember? He said that during his inaugural speech. P-Noy said we are his boss. Remember?
What I know about the PDAF and DAP controversies are very limited. PDAF’s gone. DAP is there, just there for Secretary Abad to spend on. But regardless of whether DAP is “unconstitutional” to the Supreme Court and DAP is legally and morally right according to P-Noy, my questions are these:
If they were true that they were spending through DAP to help Filipinos, why can’t P-Noy use that money to improve the facilities and medical equipment of our public hospitals which, since time immemorial, are of pathetic conditions. Up to now, you’ll be scared of going to a public hospital that lots of sick, poor Filipinos go to for medical healing. Just by merely visiting its comfort room, you’d be very afraid to enter because of its filthiness, its bad smell, and there is no running water.
If they were true that they were spending through DAP to help Filipinos, why is it that in our public schools we still have these cramped, poorly ventilated classrooms, why is it we still have teachers that are overworked and underpaid? And why, for God’s sake, there are still no homes for the homeless, no electricity and water for those in the faraway provinces, no jobs for the unemployed and so many underemployed? (People like me have jobs. But salaries are only enough for food and transportation fare. As a result, ordinary workers like me have to request for loan to augment our other needs like clothing, education, hospital expenses, and any emergency that may arise.) And why is it that riding an MRT is a test of our sanity? Passengers are made to suffer inside the train like sardines in a can.
I can’t feel any improvement. The picture remains the same.
WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY SPENDING ALL OUR MONEY? Obviously, they are spending it for their selfish interests. Like giving the fund to benefit those who’ve helped them during their candidacy for election. I could be wrong. But I could be right.
To President Noynoy, we may be poor, even look dumb. But inside, we think, observe, and analyze. We are not morons. We want transparency.