Archive for August, 2013

against porkThe increasing middle class of the Filipino society comprise those privileged with access to technology, connections to the affluent, gross income taxed by 30% or so, small to medium scale entrepreneurs, and have one more dollar-earning family member from abroad. They are active in the society being members of several clubs, associations and other organizations, as members and leaders.

In the history of class struggle, Marx and Engels argue that it is the proletariat – the working class who should strive to win the revolution against the existing economic system that rules the social and political spheres of nations. They pertain to those in the lower strata of the economic and social system, the underprivileged and marginalized. However, the role of the peti-bourgeoisie is also critical.

The middle class is assumed to be educated, well informed, economically able and influential in the community. Historically, the illustrado’s in the Philippines propelled the 1896 Philippine revolution. In modern times, EDSA revolutions were led by the prominent middle-class men and women. Such events are material evidences of the role of the middle class to lead their own and those in the lower strata of the society towards a political cause. All driven in the context of upholding democracy.

The poor and the underprivileged proletariat of the Philippines comprise the masses, a huge number in terms of population distribution. They include the farmers, the fisherfolks, the skilled labor, the contractuals and those taking mean jobs. They are huge in number and yet their political maturity doesn’t hold as a power to reckon with the ruling class. Their struggle is on a daily basis, food and the basic necessities of life.

Their knowledge of the larger economic and political system is also limited. Their access to information is scarcely by oral tradition. Their disposition about politics is distant to having participation in the democratic processes. They are trapped in the culture of patronage.  They elect those who they feel popular and winnable or those who have given them the crumbs of what politicians have scoundrelled from the taxpayers’ money.

The Filipino proletariat are the same people used and abused by politicians and so by the capitalists. They work on minimum daily wage while the capitalist earn the bulk from their labor. They seek politicians who could give them a penny when they are in need. They rely more on others than in their own capacity. They are passive players in the political drama because they are apathetic to politics.

The Filipino proletariat are hardly politicized to draft their course in the history of revolution. The heroes in the annals of Philippine history are mostly members of the middle class. They lead the proletariat in the successful revolts, against colonizers and against authoritative and dysfunctional governments. True, they have their participation when the Filipino took arms against Spain, or against dictators like Marcos, but those were reactionary to the leading of the middle class.

The middle class is an in-betweener group of the Filipino society. Their political role is pivotal to steer the proletariat into action, and they can shake the ruling class to reconsider decisions. If they could think for the greater good, they can lobby the cause of the poor people in this country. They can draft the course of development of this nation. They can reshape the form of democracy the Philippines has. Yet, their success will only depend on the support they could get from the masses.

The Marxist dictum on the people’s revolution, is that the proletariat should takeover the modes of production from the capitalist, from the ruling class. Unions operate with this dictum in mind. Such has never succeeded in the realms of Philippine history.  One could only suspect that the European formula is not culturally sensitive to the Filipino’s political dynamics. The solidarity that is expected from the proletariat do not come out naturally as a manifestation of political consciousness but an upheaval to vent emotion – a reaction to a direct threat to their existence.

Today, the Philippines celebrates National Heroes day, at the same time, a march against the pork barrel system is held. Numbers are huge to count, but accounting for which social class do the participants came from is another thing. What does the ordinary Juan De La Cruz say of the pork barrel? What can be thought now about the role of the peti-buorgeoisie in the Filipino democracy? What should the politicized mass do amid political turmoils?





pigsThe fat politician is a metaphorical portrait, of greed and corruption. Pork-barrel creates such politicians.

Infrastructures, livelihood, social-welfare, scholarships and other developmental projects for a district or for the country are not to be expected from congressmen/women and senators of any democratic country. The primary function of legislators is to strengthen the country’s legal system by reviewing, filing and passing pertinent laws that will ensure the nation’s growth and stability. With those premises there is no need to allocate priority development funds or country-wide development funds that disguise as pork barrel to any member of the Philippine Congress.

The executive government has in itself the institutions to provide the basic services, build the needed infrastructures, and extend assistance for community development. However, the needed budget is not adequate, because those who pass the national budget will have to scour for means to sustain their perks from the pork that they allot for themselves. Such breeds corruption.

The legislators also need their budget, but this should only be allocated for their office operation; i.e. research, caucus, investigation related to policy development. The role of the legislators is in the area of policy development for national stability, and this should not be confused with other forms of development projects.

The cost of meeting other purported needs of a legislator’s constituents should be taken off the congressman or a senator’s budget, since ensuring the nation’s developmental needs is bound only in their responsibility to create the necessary laws.  Thus, the pork barrel system is never needed by a statesman/woman. It only works to sustain corruption and maintain greed among the members of the legislative government.

At the moment, a senator gets P200 million every year, while a congressman gets P70 million every year under the Priority Development Assistance Fund. This is over and above their allotted maintenance and operating and other expenses (MOOE) budget. Each member of the Philippine Congress operate using the MOOE. Every oversight committees and commissions in the congress are also covered by the MOOE. For 2014, operation budget for the senate is P2.998 billion while for the house of representatives P6.248 billion (Diaz, 2013) is allocated.

“Per type of expenditure, the MOOE is specified in the GAA to be used for travelling, communication, repairs, and maintenance, transportation and delivery, supplies and materials, rents, utility, training and scholarship, extraordinary and printing and binding, advertising, representation, subscription and membership dues and contributions” (Mendez, 2013). Should the legislators be using their operation budget wisely, they can manage without the pork-barrel.

With PDAF still included in the 2014 budget, P27billion of taxpayer’s money is passed on to the use or misuse of legislators, just like when the country loss P10billion in the exposed pork-barrel scam but the President is still unfazed with the issues on pork barrel (Esguerra & Cabacungan, 2013). Very few legislators  (Bacani, 2013) would like to scrap the pork-barrel, but the Filipino taxpayers would like to see and feel where their taxes go.

In this case, the Filipino people should know who among the legislators stand for what is right and just for the nation. We have yet to see a fat-free legislative agenda: a policy that is lean and never mean.  That can only happen when the Philippine Congress scraps pork-barrel out of its system.