The billion-peso PDAF scam continues to unfold like a giant, stinky flower; its cloud of stench permeating a wider area of government institutions as the days pass. This is not a report on the details of the scam. This issue has been in the news so much that it is impossible to be ignorant about it.
From my understanding, the PDAF or ‘pork barrel’ has always been like a double-edged sword. It was created to finance projects or initiatives that will benefit the constituents of a particular politician, to fill the gaps that national programs have overlooked. On paper, it sounds like a good thing. However, its implementation is anchored on an inefficient system that makes it vulnerable to misuse, abuse, and corruption. Small wonder people are fighting tooth and nail (spending millions of pesos in the process) to be elected in the Senate and House of Representatives. This also explains why people, once elected, become addicted to their posts, causing them to hold on to it for as long as they can.
I always thought that they were hooked on power. As it turned, the object of their addiction is a tangible one.
And now, there is a growing movement that is calling for the abolition of the PDAF. I’m not one to quickly jump into the bandwagon, even if it seems to be the ‘right’ one. I’m just saying, the PDAF by itself is not a bad thing. Like I said, it was created to benefit the un-reached and un-served portion of the population. The problem is in the implementation. I think the system of accessing, disbursing, and accounting for the fund at all levels of implementation need a lot of work in terms of process, transparency, and accountability.
If we have an efficient system in place, the PDAF will reach its intended recipients and fulfill its purpose. I’m not 100% sold on abolishing the PDAF because to me it means that we have given up on our government. And I don’t think we should just give up.
In an interview, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said it’s not his office’s responsibility to verify the status of the NGOs that receive PDAF. I think it should be. I think there should be a system that scrutinizes the potential recipients of funds. Coming from the development sector myself, I know that even legitimate NGOs with documented track record still have to substantiate their claim to funding whenever they submit project proposals to donors. I wonder why there isn’t one when it came to the PDAF.
Either the conspiracy theories are true: that the PDAF scam resulted from the collusion of many people from various institutions and agencies, systematizing their modus operandi to a sophisticated degree that it eluded detection until now. That, or people weren’t just paying attention to what his/ her particular office/ agency should be doing. Neither, to me, is acceptable.
So while I’m not fully supportive of the calls to abolish the PDAF, I fully support holding all the people involved in this scam accountable for plunder. I think prosecuting the perpetrators should transcend political party lines and allegiances. We shouldn’t only focus on finding the fugitive, but also pay attention to those who sit in political posts, silently despairing that the fallout bypass them–diverting our attentions by crying political demolition job.
The fugitive is small-fry compared to these men. We shouldn’t let them out of our scrutiny.