Lacson Deplores ‘Marriage of Convenience’ over Pork Barrel Funds

Corruption will continuously feed on more than half of pork barrel allocations for as long as officials of the executive and legislative branches of government avail of it, Senator Panfilo Lacson said today. 

‘It’s a `scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours’ thing between the executive and the legislature when it comes to pork barrel funds,” Lacson said.

He said Congress would not mind Malacanang’s unprogrammed funds and lump sum appropriations in the budget only because it doesn’t want the executive prying into legislators’ pork barrel allocations and department insertions.

“With this shameful situation, the legislature would never have the moral ascendancy to effectively perform its check-and-balance role over the budget submitted every year by the executive branch,” Lacson said.

Quoting the findings of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Lacson said only less than half of the taxpayers’ money actually goes to the programs of work funded thru the pork barrel system.

“More than half habitually goes to the pockets of corruption. Occasionally, depending on the insatiability of the corrupt, a shameful twenty percent of the fund is left to finance the project,” Lacson said.

He gave the `nasty’ break down in the corruption list as follows: two percent goes to the Commission on Audit; 10% is given to the district engineer and other officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways; another two percent is passed on to the barangay chairman where the project is; at least 10% goes to the contractor as profit; 5-10%, if the Mayor or Governor so demands and 20% of project cost earmarked for the legislator who identifies the project.

“Legislators who allocate funds for so called `soft projects’ like for purchase of medicines and other pharmaceutical products, as well as school supplies get bigger takes,” Lacson said.

He said such corrupt practices manifest itself to ordinary Filipinos in the form of substandard roads and bridges and poor, or lack of, basic social services in health centers and public schools.

Expecting the denial of congressmen, Lacson said, “There is no saying here that every senator or congressman is corrupt. It is only to say that we have all become suspect. The public has every basis and right to suspect.”

“With the “pork barrel” system, we are all perceived as dirty, corrupt and greedy politicians. Without it, we can all become better statesmen and public servants,” he added.

He said while the Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of the pork barrel system, any unilateral move on the part of congressmen and senators to forego their pork funds would be a welcome legal effort towards addressing this image problem.

Lacson said if all legislators would give up their pork, more than P17 billion would be saved annually. “With twenty-three senators, at P200 million each, at least P4.6 billion will automatically be deducted from the national budget,” he said.

“And if congressmen equally display this act of statesmanship, with more than 200 congressmen, at P70M each, that would be another P14B at least,” Lacson added.