Pork by Any Other Name: Can We Simply Remove Pork Barrel Allocation?

August 25, 2013

“The public cannot appreciate what it does not understand,” says then House Speaker Prospero Nograles and then Chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations Edcel Lagman in their paper ‘Understanding the Pork Barrel’. Their paper attempted to correct popular notions of PDAF and argued about the impact of pork barrel funds to improving the life of Filipinos. Despite their efforts, however, PDAF is still publicly vilified; and the recent case of Janet Lim-Napoles went beyond the usual nail in the coffin for the pork barrel issue.

Ever aware of the risk of being labeled a pork barrel apologist, a defender of corruptible fund, or even a recipient of ill-gotten wealth, the author believes that a second look at the pork barrel fund is appropriate. In order to fully appreciate the issue there’s a need to look at the other side of the coin. To understand PDAF is to appreciate not only the problems of the fund, but the context it operates on as well.

This paper takes the position that while abolishing PDAF is politically expedient, its effect would not be as significant as envisioned. The reasons for this rest on the context of its abolition: putting an end to PDAF will happen in virtually the same politico-institutional context that makes public funds (PDAF or not) vulnerable to corruption or patronage. Abolishing PDAF would not change the fact that one, legislators can still endorse programs and projects under old and new PDAF system; two, the executive officials (and to a certain extent, local government officials) are neither more accountable nor more transparent than legislators; and three, PDAF is not the only avenue where legislators can ‘endorse’ programs and projects. Towards the end, the paper provided some means to improve the system already in place for pork barrel releases. Read the rest of this entry »

The Band-Aid Administration: 525,600 Minutes Under the PNOY Administration

July 20, 2011

The first year of President Aquino III’s administration is a struggle of some sort. On the one hand, the government that they would take over is predictable and consistent – if you talking about corruption and public anomalies. On the other hand, it is mandated to govern a mix of people who have lost faith in government, who want to go against the thieving government officials, or who simply want to have a better life. Essentially, this political dynamics created a ‘Band-Aid Administration’ out of a government trying to put a sense of closure to the decades of looting public coffers and twisting realities.

The idea of a Band-Aid Republic is two-prong. On the positive side, being a Band-Aid Republic attempts to provide quick solutions to existing problems, to protect the country vulnerable points and to prevent social conditions from deteriorating. On the negative, a Band-Aid Administration could also connote the non-existence of a strategic and forward-looking plans and programs, the limited application (and effect) of government intervention, and the continued existence of social maladies despite government interventions. The Situationer opines that such idea could sum the discourse the government has taken under the first year of Aquino Administration. Read the rest of this entry »

Of Fists and Fits: The Case of the Punching City Mayor

July 19, 2011

This is in reaction to Mr. Richard Dy’s ‘Why I’d Punch the Sheriff too’ as published in the Philippine Collegian on July 5, 2011.

The mythical Athenian hero Theseus once said that ‘there is no worse enemy than he who keeps the law on his own hands’. A tyrant finds it hateful when people reason with wisdom and live with a sense of justice because he fears they will shake his power. A tyrant leads with the force of fear, far from a system of legitimate power and institutions a democratic state enjoy.

For the democratic system to work, rule of law must exist and be preserved. For rule of law to be sustained, the law that the people has crafted must apply to all; be it to the poor (who should have more in law) or the ignorant (who knew nothing of the law).

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Travel Advisories: The Unnecessary Addend of Unfounded Fears

November 9, 2010

Travel advisories are usually handled by the government in a not-so-controversial manner. Of course, the government personalities express some resentment over the issuance of such advisories. But most of the time, government would take the travel advisory in a stride, enforce most of the time temporary high-alert status on usual suspects and mitigate travel advisories by featuring neutralization of terrorist leaders or capture of terrorist camps and/or retrieval of the enemies war materiel.

However, when something that could have been passed off as a regular response to security threat situation was taken in an excessively belligerent manner, certain security concerns would be undermined. More specifically, partnerships against the growing war on terror are strained and the security administration capabilities of a country is undermined.  This article looks into the concerns that are uncovered when something as trivial as travel advisory become politically critical.

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Back to 1989: The Implications of a Presidential Amnesty

November 5, 2010

On October 11, 2010, President Noynoy Aquino signed Proclamation No. 50. This proclamation grants amnesty to uniformed personnel and civilians implicated in the Oakwood Mutiny, the Marines Standoff, the Manila Peninsula Hotel Incident and other related events. However, would this act by the President result to the intended end-state? Would the move be consistent with the Daang Matuwid advocacy, or would it circumvent it?

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Ang Daang Matuwid: Under (de)Construction

October 12, 2010

A year ago, I published “Beyond the Amber Ribbons”, a blog article that tackled my own set of personal observations and concerns over the whirlwind candidacy of then Senator Noynoy Aquino. During the time when emotions seemed to undermine reason, I posed serious questions on his candidacy. I have done so amidst allegations that I’m a paid hack of other candidates.

We already know what happened after May 2010. Noynoy won with a significant margin over the second placer Estrada. With the way things turned out in the campaigns and in the administration, a serious query was posed on the Philippine Political Situationer. What happened a year after? Do the questions posed to the then-presidential-candidate Aquino remain relevant and valid now that he is the sitting president? Here is a look on what have happened a year after.

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The Day the Music Died in Manila: Part 2

October 8, 2010

Discussion of the various aspects of the  hostage-taking situation illustrated a number of problems emanating from the scenario. These includes some of the most critical errors that made a relatively manageable hostage-taking incident  turn from being under control into a raging drama that caught many, even non-Chinese  and non-Filipino, in a time lapse. Philippine Political Situationer observed that these grave errors were committed:

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