Bernardo M. Villegas
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More on Pork Barrel Scam

           I do not agree with those who want to remove access to PADF for the President, Vice President and other officials of the Executive Branch.  This reform would be counterproductive and would not be in keeping with the Constitution.  The PADF, in addition to line items in the annual budget, is a means of channeling funds for priority projects that need instant attention because of the extreme or extraordinary circumstances faced by some people in urgent need of help.  There is nothing wrong in members of the Executive Branch having access to these funds for priority allocation and disbursement, as long as the same rigor in auditing and monitoring is exercised as in the line items in the annual budget.  There is also nothing wrong in part of these PADF money being channeled to legitimate nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) if in the judgment of the appropriate authorities, these NGOs are in a better position to implement projects more wisely and expeditiously.  I still remember the instruction we received from then President Cory Aquino when she sent the late Roberto Villanueva and a group of private sector representatives to Japan to tell the officials disbursing ODA earmarked for the Philippines that she preferred that a large portion of ODA funding should be channeled through certified NGOs because "she was not yet sure that her own government had already been totally cleansed of the corruption inherited from the previous Administration."  Who can question that NGOs like the Red Cross, the Sisters of Charities of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the Gawad Kalinga and similar philanthropic organizations are safer conduits of ODAs than some still-to-be-reformed government agencies?

          Finally, let me rejoice that another long-term institutional change can be gleaned in an email I received from some high school students from a private school in Alabang that expressed the indignation of the youth about the corruption they perceived in the Napoles affair:  "The pork barrel scam that is rocking our nation today has opened our eyes to the grave injustice done by the very people whose main job is to serve our country.  We, the youth, are disgusted by the corruption found in the government.  The taxes our parents pay are hard-earned and should rightly go to projects that aim for the development of our nation.  Instead of uplifting the lives of the Filipinos, the taxes are being pocketed by greedy government officials.  Money that is supposed to go to quality education, sufficient healthcare services, financial assistance to the poor, better infrastructures, innovative technology or to any other worthy cause of making the Filipino lives better, is being stolen by those in power.  Their immoral actions are depriving our nation of progress....May we remind the government officials that you were elected by the people to serve, not to plunder.  The people have placed their trust in your leadership hoping that you can make a change. We, the youth, are disillusioned with our country leaders.  We are quickly losing faith in you.  All we ask is that you be true leaders of this nation and do your duty of serving not yourselves but the people."  (Signed Nicola Arcenas, Monina Elazegui, Franky Guerrero, Nica Jaucian and Kamile Tapia of PAREF Woodrose).  For comments, my email address is