The stinging attack by a large group of call center workers on President Benigno Aquino’s defense of his own pork barrel funds – about P600 billion for next year and an undetermined amount under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) – is understandable.
Lack of transparency and accountability is the single biggest problem or gaping hole in his defense of his pork barrel funds.
Yes, a sitting president needs quick and easy access to large amount of funds
which can swiftly and readily be deployed to help victims of typhoons and other natural calamities.
Yes, sitting president simply doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for the cumbersome process of getting Congress approval for much-needed funds for use in emergencies.
But there is absolutely no reason even for a sitting president who declares “hindi ako magnanakaw at hindi ako magnanakaw” (I’m not a thief and I won’t steal taxpayers’ money) not to subject large amounts of public funds under his office to proper checks and balance.
If a lowly civil servant is asked to account for miniscule taxpayer’s money put under his or her care, why should the most senior official in government be spared from this practice and standard? Why should there be double standards, i.e. one for the rank and file in the civil service and another for senior officials?
Aquino espouses good governance.
Disbursement of taxpayers’ money, large or small, should therefore be subjected to diligent scrutiny and audit to ensure their proper use. Afterall, these funds belong to the people, not to officials who are merely handling these monies on behalf of those whom these officials are meant to serve, not abuse.
In his prime time televised speech on Tuesday, Aquino effectively asked the people to continue trusting him in how the pork barrel funds of the office of the president are being used. He cited certain development projects and boosting the growth of the country’s economy as a result of his administration’s prudent and wise use of the pork barrel funds of his office.
He buttressed his appeal by staking his personal integrity as a sitting president who has never been accused of being involved in any shady government transaction, unlike his predecessor Gloria Arroyo and her husband and henchmen.
However, how can Aquino guarantee that people around him are not stealing taxpayers’ money in the absence of any checks and balance in how these monies are used? In the absence of transparency and accountability, how can Aquino convince the people that monies are not being wasted away or stolen by thieves in the civil service as his administration pursues various development projects?
Good governance is always accompanied by transparency and accountability.
If Aquino is really committed to what he says, why hasn’t he recognized and seen the merits of subjecting his own pork barrel funds to proper scrutiny and audit.
Subjecting his own pork barrel funds to proper checks and balance and doing away with all forms of patronage politics is the only way to silence his critics and for his administration to make great strides in his avowed fight to curb well-entrenched and institutionalized graft and corruption in the government.
Putting in place proper and effective checks and balance in the disbursements of large amounts of funds under the office of the president is very, very important.
Commission on Audit and other government reports have indicated that Arroyo pillaged with impunity the Malampaya, PCSO and other public funds, aside from the pork barrel funds under the office of the president, due to the appalling and inexplicable absence of controls.
There is absolutely no guarantee that the Philippines won’t have a kleptomaniac, like Arroyo, for a president in the future.
It is therefore most imperative for Aquino to ensure proper and the most effective use of taxpayers’ money, and to eliminate all forms of patronage politics.
If he fails to muster ample guts and courage, he can well expect more political turbulence the rest of his term and inflict irreparable damage to his legacy as a reform-minded president.
For more info, please see link below:
BPO group to Aquino: We are not stupid