We Filipinos thought it was enough to topple a dictator. We thought we could rest easy after that. We thought wrong.
Some of those who helped unseat the tyrant Ferdinand Marcos were tempted to do what he did – use political power to enrich themselves, live comfortably on the people’s money, get ahead of the rest and to hell with everybody else.
It was something that we Filipinos did not foresee – that good men could turn bad, sometimes very bad. And bad men could become much worse.
It was morphing time and I witnessed a lot of it as a young political reporter covering the Senate.
Among the things I witnessed began innocently enough and was packaged as something good. As something that would ease poverty and spread the dividends of democracy.
This was the congressional pork barrel.
It has taken me close to seven months to write this piece because the Senate holds a special place in my heart. It is where I witnessed the blooming of democracy. But it was also where I learned how Philippine politics really works. It is where I saw Filipino politicians up close and personal – how they can be noble and selfless one moment and downright mean, vindictive and greedy the next.
Senate was where I personally witnessed in 1987 the revival of the present pork barrel in our country’s history.
The recent, unprecedented outrage over the grand theft of this pork is another rare chance for Filipinos to reboot our democracy. Let’s not waste this chance this time, as we did after the Second World War, and after Edsa People Power 1 and 2.
I write this with the hope that the Senate will cleanse its ranks and finally consign the pork barrel – in whatever form or name – as a relic of our colonial past.
Congressional pork and its repeated theft by our lawmakers throughout our history – starting with the American colonial era – is at the centerpiece of our defective democracy.
It is a top-down kind of democracy where ordinary Filipinos have no say. Where the bosses are the lawmakers. And they expect us to thank them for spending our tax money.
The scandal over pork is the most damaging issue since 1987 to smear the credibility of Congress as an institution. With this issue unresolved, congressmen and senators have lost ALL MORAL ASCENDANCY to investigate corruption in government.
There are calls to abolish Congress. Personally, I’m not for that.
What I want is for the conspirators inside Congress to be hauled to court; resign their offices; have the equivalent amount of what they “lost” in the pork barrel scam frozen in their personal assets; and be detained in regular jail while facing court cases.
The crime they are being accused of is betrayal of the people.
Those senators who say it is not part of their job to see to it that their pork barrel is not stolen by bogus NGOs (non-government organizations) have no business staying in office for ONE MORE DAY.
[for the rest of the blog entry, click on this link: Pork and the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution]