MS 30th Anniversary XXX

Why pork barrel will stay

House of Representatives Speaker Sonny Belmonte has advised Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao to run first for senator before seeking the presidency. Pacquiao still has a lot to learn as a leader and lawmaker. It’s not all about popularity. I agree that anybody who is a natural-born Filipino, at least 40 years old who can read and write can aspire to be president.  But it’s got to be more than that—a true national leader must be somebody we can respect and admire, and have faith in. * * * So, should we abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund, more popularly known as pork barrel? Many want it scrapped. It has become a tool for corruption. Still, the sentiment is far from unanimous. Many also claim that PDAF is needed by the constituents of lawmakers. It’s the only way to see their money go back to their benefit. Unfortunately, instead of the PDAF serving this purpose, it has lined the pockets of legislators, local politicians and bogus NGOs. Every senator gets P200 million and every member of the House of Representatives gets P70 million a year. I wonder – how much money has actually gone to corruption, all these years? The P10-billion scam now being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation is just the tip of the iceberg. Still, I don’t think President Aquino can abolish the pork barrel. That would be political suicide on his part.  The system perpetrates a president’s hold on Congress. I think the only way we can ever get rid of this is to change the political system altogether. The Constitution must be amended to shift to the parliamentary system. I also doubt whether the NBI probe will amount to anything. This is sad, because any other president with stronger political will can actually do away with pork barrel.  A leader must think first about the people, before he considers political survival. * * * Manila Mayor and former President Joseph Estrada is really out to vindicate himself.  He is not satisfied with seeing his son JV Ejercito (by San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez) getting elected as senator. Erap is out to make the city of Manila the premier city and restore its old glory. Some may not agree with what Erap is doing, like his latest ban on buses without terminals in Manila, and on illegal buses, taxis, tricycles and pedicabs.  Still, his efforts are laudable. I do agree with his plan to give the Roxas Boulevard walkway a facelift.  But the shore of Manila Bay must first be cleaned up – Manilans have made it their toilet bowl. Many more things need to be done to restore Manila to its former glory.  You have crime, drugs, and prostitution.  Estrada’s only problem is that he was left with a city government that is practically bankrupt. I believe Erap can do it all. * * * A local judge in Dagupan, acting on a petition of the mayor, Belen Fernandez and her people at city hall, has ruled that the sale of McAdore Hotel was illegal. This despite the fact that the Amb. ALC Holdings and Management Corp. already has a title to the abandoned McAdore Hotel in Dagupan City, having complied with all the requirements in a fair and impartial public bidding including the payment of capital gains and transfer fees on the property. This is why the lawyer of the Manila-based ALC Holdings has asked for the transfer of the case venue. The case concerns the propriety of the sale, where even the Commission on Audit had ruled on the floor price. People of Dagupan were actually relieved when the Manila-based buyer won the bid. The building, decrepit and abandoned, had its lighting, plumbing and other amenities cannibalized. Former Mayor Benjie Lim had wanted to make the hotel the new city hall. But he abandoned the idea because doing so would entail great costs. Now the new people at city hall are hitting Lim, who unfortunately cannot defend himself since he remains comatose in a Metro Manila hospital. Lim suffered a massive stroke before the May 13 elections. The lawyer of the hotel buyer claimed that in a court of law outside Dagupan City, the McAdore Hotel case has better chances of being decided on its merits rather than out of mere political consideration. The central point of the controversy is on the legality of the resolution that allowed the sale that authorized then-Mayor Lim to sell McAdore. There are in fact two resolutions that authorized him to sell: One, resolution No. 6738-2012 passed by the Sanggunian Panlungsod or the city council which was superseded by Resolution No. 6809, which affirmed and confirmed not only the authority of Lim about rectified whatever defect the first resolution had. Surprise, surprise, then-Vice Mayor Fernandez affirmed both resolutions as presiding officer. This is strange. So what is the agenda of the new city government?
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