Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing. — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)
I sit here, in between worlds. I have tried for weeks to understand both the government’s point of view, and the opposition’s point of view on PDAF. I sit in between both worlds simply because the matter of pork, and what we need to do to fix it long term is bigger than any one person.
I have no doubt that the conversation— good and evil— remain valid. The analogy that the Philippines is a broken down house that needs fixing hold true. Four years after we have elected Benigno S. Aquino III to the Philippines we have finally started to open some of the bigger structural problems.
The issue of pork and how the people’s money is managed for one thing is a huge and gapping hole. Money is like oil and fuel. It forms a fundamental part of logistics. Like air, cut it off and anything dies. A person is crippled. A business collapses. A government can not serve and protect its people. So we have all this money lost to corruption.
PDAF comes out like a massive stink. Like a dead corpse found between wall frames, buried by its murderer. It is a stink of selfishness, and greed. Fancy cars, and luxury condos fill the pages of the news. A demand to hold those accountable, and a massive push to uncover the mess.
So the people took to the streets in protest. As I have written before, it bewildered me. Didn’t we expect to find…this? Wasn’t this why in 2010 Aquino won on the basis of Anti-Corruption?
If ever you need to be schooled about the basic process of how the budget works, and how PDAF interacts with it— then no better place than “The Abolition of Pork“.
Undersecretary Manolo Quezon correctly highlights the first step in solving the problem:
Here is step one for anyone interested to solve this problem: “So what is the solution? Two: first, find, prosecute, and punish those who broke the law. Second, stop the flawed system, and replace it with a new system that actually addresses the needs of the public instead of filling the pockets of officials. Any solution, just as a reminder, must conform to the Constitution and the role given to legislators and the Executive; and it is all laid out in the national budget, the most important law enacted by Congress each year, based on the proposals submitted by the President
So three months in… one of the biggest names to have popped out of the PDAF scam, Senator Jinggoy Estrada reportedly left the country… and the Anti-Pork movement at least as of this writing hasn’t said anything.
Over the long weekend, a massive defacement campaign by people calling themselves Anonymous attacked 30 government websites supposedly in protest.
Here’s a screenshot from Interaksyon:
As @ceso on twitter points out:
And leaves sexy's website untouched. "@solartvnews: Pork protesters take their disgust online, and deface several government websites.
— ceso (@ceso) November 3, 2013
Tony La Viña on twitter shares Dr. Nicole Curato’s assessment of President Aquino’s latest speech on the pork barrel entitled, “The President as Spin Doctor“:
Undersecretary Manolo Quezon writes back:
@tonylavs one wonders she can't differentiate spin from campaign platform. Is academic rigor dispensable in favor of motherhood statements?
— Manuel L. Quezon III (@mlq3) November 4, 2013
Earlier, I had a good discussion with Kiko Acero on this.
On one point I do agree with Dr. Curato is that we do need creative solutions. What I disagree vehemently was this from Dr. Curato:
“This is why it is crucial that Malacañang seriously engages the people’s demands for abolishing pork instead of relying on spin. What the Scrap Pork Movement and other citizen-led initiatives against trapo politics exemplify is the shift of the center of influential political ideas. Creative and bolder alternatives for budget reform emerge from discussions among partisan and unaffiliated citizens. People today come out as persistent, not the type that can be “distracted” by dealing with more than one issue at a time.”
To be fair to the Aquino Administration, they did reach out and sought to engage the public after the so called Million People March (but it was in actuality just mere thousands). I think the administration understood the people’s anger. The meeting was held and cabinet secretaries were present. Cabinet secretaries. Nothing came out of it because the MPM folks didn’t engage.
I for one am disappointed.
So I sit here, between two worlds, wondering. Where then does this leave the conversation? Where then does this leave our motivation on how to solve the problem if no one is intellectually honest? Maybe it is time to put up a chair, have nice cold drink in one hand, and watch while the world burns. It is a nice way to shoot ourselves in the foot, isn’t it?