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‘Pork barrel politics’ very much alive in Congress - BMP

Press Release
November 21, 2018

QUEZON CITY – Militant labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) assailed members of the House of Representatives claiming that “pork barrel politics is still alive and kicking”. This, after Senator Ping Lacson disclosed at a press briefing Monday that insertions by congressmen have stalled the budget hearings.

The group further disclosed that the practice of pork allocations is more prevalent this year because of next year’s midterm elections.

The Supreme Court in 2013 ruled that pork barrel is unconstitutional after allegations that Janet Lim-Napoles and several legislators siphoned public funds to bogus and ghost non government organizations.

In a statement, Leody de Guzman, chairperson of the group and senatorial aspirant said, “We are certain that these congressmen are aware of the 2013 SC ruling and yet they have continued the anomalous practice of allocating funds and projects to perpetuate their dynastic rule over their respective districts”.

“Their mandate is to legislate laws, oversight and deliberation. Budget insertions by congressmen for their pet projects has the same effect on the entire fiscal process as with the previous practice of direct and blatant congressional pork barrel. Both practices strengthens political patronage, where grave abuse of discretion most likely leads to graft and corruption,” he adds.

BMP says it is not surprising that the public perceives Congress as a corrupt institution, filled with traditional politicians who earn their living through kickbacks, horse trading, and authoring laws for corporate interests.

"Obviously, our legislators are severely detached from the people that they rely more on sharing their loot of the national coffers to their constituents. It is a share in the public pie that only increases if they enjoy the good graces of the Executive branch,” De Guzman opined.

The concrete needs of the people, the labor leader asserted “towards wholistic and genuine national development should be the primary basis in the allocation of government funds, not the selfish motives of politicians who label completed projects as part of their achievements. Credit should be accorded to where it is due, to no other than the taxpaying public who do not owe anything, not even “utang na loob” to these unscrupulous trapos”.

“Labor reminds our legislators that the ink on the five-year old Supreme Court ruling has not dried. The people’s righteous anger against the pork barrel is still alive and fresh on our collective memory. If they fail to exercise prudence, this indignation by the voting population will be reflected in next year’s elections.

De Guzman, meanwhile, emphasized that the congressional craving for budget allocation to their districts is goaded by the austerity measures of the budget department to the much needed social services, which is essential to providing decent lives to the workers and the poor.

It has been reported that the several departments will suffer from severe budget cuts. The DepEd’s proposed Basic Education Facilities Fund for 2019 will lose P69.4 billion compared to 2018, while DOH’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) fund was clipped of P30.3 billion under its cash based budgeting system.

“It is utterly disgraceful that we have congressmen who fight tooth and nail for every penny of budget allocation to advance their selfish political motives, while the public suffers from runaway inflation caused by anti-poor tax reform packages,” he lashed out.

The BMP says the taxpaying public have been hit by a triple whammy. “First, the poor are overtaxed with VAT and excise taxes on petroleum. Second, the budget cuts to national government agencies providing social services to the people has led to a shift in fund allocation towards the discretion of self-serving government officials. Lastly, these politicians will profess to being pro-poor as they use public funds to woo the voters into reelecting them into office”.

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