imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

IN MY EYES: Boot out the kapal muks!

The late graft-buster Miriam Defensor-Santiago, asked about her reaction to her outspoken anti-corruption tirades in the Senate, said: “I eat death threats for breakfast!”

Miriam, of course was not gunned down; she died of cancer.

Miriam was a known graftbuster when she was at the Bureau of Immigration. She would have been perfect for the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the 3 most corrupt agencies in the country according to President Rodrigo Duterte.

We terribly miss Maid Miriam these days. She would have stamped on all these pork “insertions” passed by the 17th Congress and the Senate in the 2019 national budget before the senate went on recess for the midterm elections. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives voted in favor of the budget. The Senate voted 15-5 while the House of Representatives approved the measure via viva voce voting.

Why am I discussing these things, fellas?

Because you and I own those money. Those money come from our taxes which the BIR collect for the national treasury.

And how much do we pay?

Government employees are deducted almost 10% from their salaries and a little bit than that is the mandatory deduction by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Then here come also deductions for Philhealth and Pag-ibig.  But primarily, all those “porks” come from our taxes. We also pay taxes when we load our vehicles with gas, when we buy anything in the market or when we avail of any service. In other words, everything we buy or spend is taxed and all these taxes are to be put into the BIR coffers for government disposal. And who decide where these taxes all go? Right, fellas – to be decided by our honorable congressmen and senators.

 Of course, not all of them are honorable as some of them have been indicted, charged or jailed for plunder.They allegedly plundered millions of our hard-earned taxes intended for government services, and some of those who were charged and jailed for plunder are again in the limelight of election campaign for the midterm elections.

To which Mang Maing exclaims: “Mga kapal muks talaga! Talagang wala na silang hiya!”

How much is the national budget for 2019?

It’s P3.757-trillion with “pork” insertions made by lawmakers amounting to P75 billion.

And what are these “pork insertions?”

The ratified version made by lawmakers amounts to P75 billion — P70 billion for senators and P5 billion for House members excluding the P75 billion worth of projects allegedly inserted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) fund.

If there is somebody who is decent enough to cry foul to these pork insertions, well, it’s Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

Lacson has expressed his disapproval of pork barrel funds and has repeatedly asked President Duterte to use his veto power to disapprove the proposed budget.

“Even if it were enacted into law, the budget is expected to be scrutinized after the Supreme Court declared the practice of inserting pork funds as unconstitutional,” he said.

The SC handed down the decision after it was exposed that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was being used to fund non-existing or bogus companies and non-government organizations such as the pork barrel scam of Janet Lim Napoles.

In August 2018, Lacson revealed that there are “hundreds of billions” in the proposed budget which may be used to fund pet projects of government officials.

“If you think pork has left, no it hasn’t left. It runs to hundreds of billions of pesos,” Lacson said.

This is the reason why DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno is mum in attending a congressional inquiry. If he is not hiding anything, there is no reason to evade.

Lacson said this 2019 budget is “cholestrerol-rich” saying that the members of the House members allocated for themselves P160 million in discretionary or “pork barrel” funds where each lawmaker would each receive an additional P60 million on top of their P100 million allocation under the National Expenditure Program (NEP). He said that the additional allocation came from the excess P75 billion in proposed funding for the DPWH allegedly inserted by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno in connivance with the former House leadership. Lacson noted that the spending ceiling for the agency was at P480 billion, but the proposal under NEP was at P555 billion, higher by P75 billion. 

“With the new House of Representatives’ leadership distributing P60 million more to each congressman, the total new ‘standard’ reinvented pork per congressman is now a staggering P160 million, thus creating a ‘NEW NORMAL’ in the pork barrel system,” he said.

The “pork barrel” system was institutionalized through the Priority Development Assistance Fund and was abolished in 2013 when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional – followed by the discovery of the Napoles syndicate, where she and her cohort lawmakers allegedly syphoned these funds to non-existent or bogus non-government organizations.

And so, where do we go from here, fellas?

Let’s use our precious votes this May 2013 to boot out these candidates with a history of graft and corruption.

Mang Maing concludes: “Nanengneng la unayen dagiti saan a makaam-ammo kadakuada!”

We know them well.

And we’ll be sending them to nowhere.