Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 18 August 2018


My very dear friend Menchu Bautista wrote the prayer below when her son-in-law briefly joined the government under PNoy (for less than three years, because he couldn’t afford the income loss; he is one of the relatively few government officials I know whose SALN decreased while in the service).

The prayer says it all, I think, and it  was adopted by my Walking Group, and we have been praying this collectively once a week since then. And maybe, if more Filipinos prayed it, President Duterte would be less sickly and frustrated, as he is at present. And we wouldn’t be so beset by problems. So, Reader, please consider saying this prayer for our country—with, it is to be hoped, the greatest fervency and sincerity:

“Dear Lord, through the intercession of our dearest Mother Mary, Queen of Peace, convert the Filipino people into peaceful, God-fearing, honest and responsible citizens.
“Lord, help us to remember that we, too, must do our part to make our country the peaceful and progressive nation that we want it to be, by following the laws of God and our country, by caring for our environment, and by sharing our blessings of time, talent and material goods with so many of our needy countrymen.

“Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we entrust President Duterte and our country to you. Dearest Mother Mary, take all of us Filipinos under your mantle of love and protection. Amen.”

Now, to the more mundane issues—my comments on some of yesterday’s news, not necessarily in the order of their importance.

On the 24 potential senatorial candidates of the PDP-Laban as presented to the President by Senator Koko Pimentel, I am concerned because: 1) out of the 24 potentials, 10 belong to political dynasties, six of whom are more than likely to be chosen as part of the final 12 candidates. What does this augur for political dynasties?  And our country? Also, if anyone wants to bet on whether Sara Duterte will be included, my bet is she won’t (but then I very often lose my political bets). 2) Six of the 24 are women—or only 25 percent. What happened to gender equity? Moreover,  most of the six are dynastic (except Poe), so the likelihood is that they will win, making the proportion of women senators higher than the proportion of women candidates. That gives me comfort, but very cold.

On the pork barrel issue: Sen. Panfilo Lacson is correct, of course, that there is pork barrel—ask any congressman off the record. The reason for the controversy between Lacson and the Palace/Ben Diokno is that they use different definitions. Lacson uses the standard definition (look at any dictionary, Reader). In fact, the NGO Citizens Against Government Waste outlines seven criteria by which spending can be identified as “pork,” such as: requested by only one chamber of Congress, not the subject of congressional hearings, serves only a local or special interest, etc.

The Palace, on the other hand, takes the 2013 Supreme Court ruling declaring the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) unconstitutional as its definition of pork barrel—lump sum allocations to as yet unknown and unidentified projects.

If the appropriations were to be constitutional, ruled the Supreme Court, they have to be identified before the budget is approved. Therefore, says the  Palace/Diokno, if a Congressman’s pork barrel project was identified before the budget was passed, that doesn’t make it pork barrel anymore.