KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS: DBM’s complicity in pork scams PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2014 13:11

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

 

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “…select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials…” (Exodus 18:21, the Holy Bible).

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DBM’S COMPLICITY IN PORK SCAMS: Here is a question for the Office of the Ombudsman, Department of Justice, Department of Budget and Management, and even of the Commission on Audit, in connection with allegations of pork barrel scams involving prominent politicians: who, really, released the hundreds of millions of pesos representing pork barrel allocations to their supposed beneficiaries?

This question is important in determining who should ultimately be held liable for these scams. The truth is that, even if politicians and lawmakers earmarked their pork barrel allocations for any particular beneficiary, whether a natural person or a juridical entity like a non-governmental organization, it is the DBM that has the final say whether the earmarked pork barrel is released or not.

Without the release of the pork barrel money by the DBM to the intended beneficiaries, whether legitimate or spurious, there would be no scam to speak of. Clearly, therefore, it is indubitable that the lawmakers who were supposed to have diverted their pork could not have carried out the scam, much as they would have wanted to, if the DBM did not actually release the money.

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WEAKNESS AND HYPOCRISY IN ACCUSING LAWMAKERS: And here lies the both the weakness and hypocrisy of accusing any lawmaker of anomalies in connection with his or her pork barrel allocations: the lawmaker can simply say he or she was not the one who really released his or her pork barrel allocations to persons or entities who subsequently diverted them or used them for purposes other than those for which the allocations were earmarked.

Since the lawmakers were not the ones who released the funds representing their pork barrel allocations, they could argue that they could not be held liable if, first, those funds were indeed released, and, second, if the released funds were used for purposes other than that which they were intended for, or third, if the persons who ultimately received those funds were legitimate or spurious.

The government entity releasing those funds, which is the DBM in particular, would have the sole responsibility in making sure that the hundreds of millions of government funds it is releasing as pork barrel allocations of lawmakers would be given only to the legitimate beneficiaries, and would be spent only for the purposes they were intended for. If the DBM did not do its duty, it would have no other person to blame but  itself.

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PORK PROBE MUST INCLUDE THE PRESIDENT: Stretching this point a little bit more, another question would present itself for resolution: would the DBM have released the hundreds of millions in pork barrel allocations of lawmakers without the go-signal of the President? In some other countries perhaps, it would be possible for an agency like the DBM to release pork allocations even without the go-signal of the President.

In a country like the Philippines, however, it is undeniable that nothing happens in government, especially releases of hundreds of millions of pork barrel allocations to lawmakers who have the capacity to make life greatly difficult for the President, including impeachment, without the President giving his or her approval first.

It would be the height of political ignorance if an agency like the DBM would undertake something of great magnitude without at the very least consulting or getting the consent and permission of the President. In fact, it could even mean political suicide for the DBM to ignore the President. Consequently, it is clear that in any investigation of any anomaly involving pork barrel allocations, it is important that the President himself or herself should be included.

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REMINDERS: Please tune in: “Tambalang Batas at Somintac”, at 1062 kHz on the AM band, Mondays to Fridays, at 6 a.m., simulcast, real time, over 1080 kHz in Dagupan City, 711 kHz in Naga City, 1260 kHz in Lucena City, 1224 kHz in Davao City, and worldwide, at www.eaglenews.ph;  “Kakampi Mo Ang Batas”, at 103.7 mHz in Don Carlos, Bukidnon, Mondays to Fridays, at 7 a.m.; and “Kakampi Mo Ang Batas” at 801 kHz on the AM band (Panay Island), Mondays to Fridays, at 10 a.m.