04 October 2013

Be a Lawmaker, Not a Plunderer

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Lawmakers are expected to write new laws, review and amend existing laws. There is nothing more that is expected from and definitely nothing less. Life would have been simpler if they just follow this dictum, but obviously greed creeps in.

There is no plausible explanation or justification why the legislators should be involved in identifying if not implementing government projects. Who told them to provide scholarships or medical allowances to their constituents when it is clear as day it is the role of the executive branch.

It is disappointing to hear that President Benigno Aquino III justified the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the pork barrel system as a viable mechanism that "enables your representative to identify projects for your communities that your local government cannot afford." This is a flawed argument.

Firstly, the lawmakers were not technically equipped nor formally trained to identify the most appropriate projects for their respective communities. Who are they to "play Supreme Commander" when they were initially voted to enact laws. They should prove their worth to their electoral constituents in the halls of Congress and not in basketball games, beauty pageants, fiestas and wakes.

Secondly, there are local development councils that act as an advisory body to the local executive and implementing agencies that is mandated to undertake this function. There are even sector-specific collegial bodies such as the local health boards.

Thirdly, funds for projects and programs can be coursed through the regional offices of line agencies to implement the priority needs at the local level. Not the non-governmental organizations. Not the people’s organization and certainly not the cooperatives.

If the local development councils at the provincial, municipal and barangay levels are non-functioning, then the local executives are compelled to organize them now. Give the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) the powers to remove erring or non-performing local officials.

If the regional implementing agencies complain that they cannot operationalize the program or project for one reason or another, then remove their regional directors and ask the head of the agency to resign if he or she cannot discipline their mid-level employees. A line agency that does not know what is needed and required in their respective area of responsibility does not have the right to be called a government body and therefore, should be cut and cauterized.