Thursday ∗ 31 Oct 2013

PNoy and that legal card

this was published in The Manila Times on October 17 2013. on October 30 2013, PNoy went on live television to defend the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) by saying that it’s all legal. this piece was entitled “Legal.” 

The spin is clear, and for once the PNoy government and its allies are right. All of this is legal.

Right now, as I write this on Tuesday morning, Senator Franklin Drilon is on television. “What crime did we commit?” he asks with regards the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The inquiry he says should be: “Was it <the fund> used properly?”

The premise of course is the notion that corruption is only about the improper use of public funds. To Drilon, there is nothing wrong or corrupt about the process that the DAP went through, because unlike the pork barrel scam, which involves an entity like a (fake) non-government organization, the fund for DAP went through the correct and legal process. He can account for every single cent, Senator Drilon says.

Of course we’ve heard this line from every other senator and congressman. We have yet to have any of them actually releasing a breakdown of where these funds go, to the last cent. It might do Senator Drilon well to know that we’re calling his dare: show us where that money was spent, and while you’re at it, break down your PDAF allocations, too. The same goes for every other senator, every other congressman, who insists that they’re spending the people’s money correctly and properly.

After all, if all of that is being spent legally, and if none of the money is being … ehem … pocketed, then those papers should be in order, filed in some folder in your offices. It’s easy enough: make those files public.

Because while we keep hearing that money was spent on a school building, no one has showed us a breakdown of exactly how much any school building costs. I want to know how much our good congressmen and senators pay the workers who build those schools, who their contractors and architects are, where are raw materials bought? I want to know if these school buildings are needed at all.

PNoy himself has recently invoked the thousands of scholars that the pork barrel, funneled through congressmen and senators, sends to school. But where is this list of scholars? You’ve got every other congressman from Lani Mercado to every nincompoop saying that they will now cease to help the poor, they will now have no money to help indigent patients, they will now be unable to put poor kids through school.

All that is legal and above board they say. The money goes to the people.

So tell us which people. Give us a list of names of your scholars and how much you spend on each one. Give us a list of those indigent patients you have spent hundreds of thousands on. Give us a list of names of those you’ve helped. If all that pork barrel money actually goes to the scholars that PNoy likes to invoke, then pray tell, give us the names of these scholars, tell us how much it costs to put each one through school.

You’ll say, oh it’s hard to keep track, we give them lump sums. And my answer to that is this: who are you kidding? You know who you’re helping because that ascertains votes for the next elections, for you or your wife or son or brother who might be running for office, too.

If all this is above board, if all this is legal, those files should be easily accessible. It goes without saying that these should be made public.

Look at the Social Security System (SSS) and PhilHealth executive bonuses! All of it is legal, they tell us. All of it is above ground. As such there is nothing wrong now that these bonuses have been made public.

Perfectly legal, and not at all problematic, because look at how these two offices have performed its services for the people! You know the service is better because you now only have to fall in line for two hours versus three at the SSS main office in Quezon City. And last year, I was going to file the SSS of my yaya, as I have done yearly since 2007. And oh boy, the process is now so much easier! I only need to fill-up four copies of her R-3 form – one each for the four quarters of the year – that’s only 16 pages! And then I need to fill-up three copies each of her two R-5 forms, because her year of contributions begins in September of the present year and crosses over to the following year. There was a PDF file from the SSS website that I could fill-up with my computer, but it wasn’t working. But it’s okay, that’s only a total of 22 pages that I need to fill-up by hand.

That’s 22 pages that I need to go back to, so I can fill up that blank for the bank receipt number after I pay for yaya’s contributions for the year. It seems counterproductive and tedious, but it’s okay!

Last year yaya was the one who went to the SSS office so she could learn to pay and file for her SSS when she retires and have her status changed to self-employed. But the woman on the second floor of the SSS Mandaluyong office was mean to her, made her feel stupid, kept complaining about how I had filled up the forms, and why it was that her year began in September and ended in August, instead of just being January to December.

Maybe that lady didn’t get a bonus.

The same might be said of the people over at the Philhealth in Mandaluyong. They probably need more bonuses, seeing as the last time I went there to ask questions about continuing my contributions, they told me: sa website. Which is true, there is the Philhealth website, and oh boy, the kind of information it will give you! Methinks the website developers should be given a bonus, too!

And yes, those bonuses for Philhealth and SSS executive are all legal. I believe that. I believe too that were these government officers given bonuses too, and better benefits, that that would not only be above board, that would mean that the services they deliver will get better, too.

What’s wrong after all with billions in bonuses for SSS and Philhealth executives? Certainly it is important to reward those who do their jobs well, and why can we not do it for government companies, even as these are being run like private corporations? After all, private sector executives get even bigger bonuses when their companies perform well. They get bonuses from their profits. SSS and Philhealth executives get bonuses because of the Filipino people’s contributions. It’s the same banana.

Most importantly, all of this is legal. All of this is above board. All of this – the DAP allocations, the pork barrel disbursements, the SSS and Philhealth bonuses – all of these are legal.

This is the spin of PNoy’s government: all of these are legal, and that means it is not corrupt.

Of course now we know that without valid and easily accessible accounting for PDAF and DAP; and without considering the impoverished many, the working class, that contribute to the bonuses of the executives of Philhealth and SSS, legal does not necessarily mean moral.


In the case of billions in unaccounted for PDAF and DAP funds, and billions in bonuses for government officials, legal just means swapang, dupang, gahaman. 

Posted in: bayan, gobyerno, komentaryo, pulitika, the elite

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