Lost in so many zeroes PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 December 2014 13:48

By REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO

I am not used to writing billions in numbers, let alone trillions. So when I read that the Philippine national budget for 2015 comes up to PhP2.6T I had to google that to see what would be the correct way to write this in numbers. What I got was this:  PhP 2,600,000,000,000.  Eleven zeros no less. WOW!
A quick google search on the estimated amount of the budget lost to corruption gave the answer of 20%.  So you don’t get lost in the forest of zeros, 20% of the budget  would mean PhP52, 000,000,000  and that reads “fifty two billion”.
If we there are 100,000,000 Filipinos now per the latest population count, if the PhP52 B lost to corruption were allocated pro rata to all Filipinos  instead, I would get something like PhP5,200.00. And so would each Filipino. Now that is an insignificant amount for many people.
If we identify by a raffle a million Filipinos who would each get equal shares of this PhP 52B, each one would get PhP52,000.  Now that is not too insignificant to most of us. But it would still be peanuts to the likes of Napoles and the Honorable Senators now in detention, they who are more used to millions per deal.
We do not encourage people to wish that they could get their hands into this loot. We encourage them to think instead of  a sum like 20% of the budget being kept intact and used as intended. If we can be the watchdogs over public finances, we might move one small step into making this country more responsive to the needs of its citizens and move this country nearer to the status of the more successful countries in this part of the world.
Let us also remember that this 20% of the budget that gets looted is not something that happens once in an administration but every budget year. If we extend our imagination a stretch we can see how much can be done with this 20% to improve public services in terms of  education, public health, better roads, improvement of agriculture productivity, improving the capability of our military and police forces in carrying out their jobs, etc., etc.
In the past few weeks there have been comments about how slow the judicial process is in the Philippines is. There are many reasons for this, we must admit, but one obvious reason is that there is a need to appoint more prosecutors, judges and justices. But this move requires more money for the appointments.
If some of the loot that gets carted away at present were used more effectively instead, one immediate outcome may be that the looters can have their cases processed faster with more judges and so the culprits get sent away to where they deserve to be. And hopefully, the looting is diminished. Hopefully.