Saturday, October 19, 2013

Urban poor want pork retained

Letter to the Editor

How can government leaders afford to enrich themselves with public money?

More or less, 21 million informal settlers are struggling to survive because they don’t have jobs or access to healthcare, education, potable water, etc. Meanwhile, those who are supposed to help them, as a matter of law and duty, are stealing billions of pesos that are intended to liberate them from poverty. Without the whistle-blowers, the extent of their plunder would have not been revealed. We have always suspected so much taxpayer money was being lost to corruption, but we never imagined the extent revealed so far.
Prominent politicians have been implicated in the pork barrel and Malampaya Fund scam, as well as in the DAP (Disbursement Accelaration Program) scandal. But now the blame has shifted to President Aquino. And aside from the pressure to abolish the pork barrel, there are now calls for his resignation, even threats to impeach him.

What happens now to those who stole people’s money? President Aquino is not perfect, but he is definitely not a thief. Are we really serious in our effort to rid government of corruption? If we are, then we should start presenting solutions so public money doesn’t fall into greedy hands. If the President has any explaining to do, so be it but, first of all, let’s go after and punish the thieves.

A week ago we gathered leaders from the Tondo area, from the  esteros  and relocation sites to get their opinion on the pork barrel. Unlike most of the elite that joined the Million People March in Luneta, they feel the pork barrel can stay as long as there are checks and balances to ensure that money allocated for development would be spent properly. They asked: “If you remove the pork, where will the poor get the money to spend for emergencies?”

The people suggested that fund allocation and implementation of the projects be removed from the hands of the legislators and new mechanisms be set up for close monitoring of the disbursements and projects. Fund allocations should also be made public so that the intended beneficiaries can monitor the disbursements in their respective areas.

Urban Poor Associates,

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