The other side of the pork barrel
MANILA – Inside a hospital room, there isn't a lot you can do for the ones you love, except maybe hold them to try and take some of the pain away.
The patients at the Quezon City General Hospital are undergoing dialysis. Every last one of them are being poisoned by stage 5 chronic kidney disease.
"Napakasakit...Napakahirap ng sakit namin,” said one of the patients, Angelina Manaluz.
The mother of one of the patients, Violeta Paloma, can’t help but become emotional each time she hears her son William groan in pain.
"Hindi ko naman ginustong magkaganito ang buhay ng anak ko...Pinapanalangin kong magkaroon sila ng magandang kapalaran,” she said.
Patients undergo dialysis 2 to 3 times a week. Each session costs more than P2,000.
So those whose pockets have been swept clean by the disease turn to the pockets of their politicians.
Paloma was given a guarantee letter they got from the office of Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco.
The letter gives them P3,000, enough for one dialysis, with change left for medicine.
She also has vouchers from councilors which she can use in drugstores.
The Office of Vice President Jejomar Binay, meanwhile, has given them P5,000 extra.
“Kapag pinatigil [ang pork barrel], matitigil din ang pagda-dialysis nito. Wala kaming pagkukunan eh, pang-mayamang sakit ito eh,” said Paloma.
Manaluz also pays for her dialysis through guarantee letters from the offices of Senators Chiz Escudero, Franklin Drilon, Bong Revilla, and Jinggoy Estrada.
And for those who are calling for the abolition of the pork barrel, she has this to say:
"Sana huwag na alisin ‘yung ganyan kasi wala naman kaming aasahan, sila lang. Maawa naman kayo sa amin.”
According to Professor Randy David, Filipinos have gotten so used to asking money from politicians that we've forgotten how this isn't even part of their job.
"Hindi mo naman dapat kailangan ng sulat para ma-endorse at makapasok diyan at makakuha ng serbisyo,” he said.
David says this culture of dependence prospers all the more because government institutions lack the proper funds to provide services to many.
This forces the poor to run to the rich until they learn to depend on them, until they begin to believe that the only way for help to keep coming is for them to keep voting for the politicians who give them aid.
David believes that the nation would be better off if the funds that go to pork would go directly to the government agencies themselves
“Kulang na nga ang pera ng bayan para malunasan lahat ng mga sakit, eh ninanakaw pa,” he said.
While investigation continues on the alleged theft of public funds, the time has come to determine where the rest of these funds should be placed, so that they may not be stolen again.
The only thing that the poor are asking now, is wherever these funds will be transferred, that they may still be able to reach it.