Put Aquino in the crosshairs of the anti-pork barrel protests

Ang Bayan
October 08, 2013

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Over the past several days, the Filipino people have continuously been expressing their disenchantment over widespread corruption in the use of pork barrel funds and the rottenness of the entire ruling system. They have launched protest actions nationwide, marking the breadth of their disgust and disappointment with Aquino's failed promises of "good governance."

Disclosures about the Aquino regime's creation and use of the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) have only succeeded in further stoking the fires of the Filipino people's anger. The DAP is a system of releasing public funds that is not in accordance with the approved budget and is dependent solely on the president's discretion.

Aquino used the DAP to provide hundreds of millions of pesos to senators who sided with him in convicting and ousting former Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona. The DAP was also used to accelerate the release of funds for congressmen and senators to secure their support for bills that Aquino personally campaigned for.

The DAP and Aquino's other pork barrel funds have been met with a swarm of criticism. A number of lawyers have already petitioned the Supreme Court to put a stop to this illegal system and others are now seeking Aquino's removal from power either through impeachment or resignation.

All this proves that the people are no longer fooled by Aquino's "good governance" slogan, which so obviously serves as a thin veil for widespread corruption. His endless accusations and constant hoopla about the former Arroyo regime's corruption now rankles the people. These are all clearly aimed at shouting down criticisms of corruption against his own regime.

The Aquino government is now scrambling to deflect and stifle people's protests against the pork barrel even as it maintains the corrupt system of budgeting, which accommodates huge unprogrammed funds directly under Aquino's control. In the face of undying protests against the pork barrel and corruption, Aquino has been frenziedly maneuvering politically to cover up the fact that he is at the top of the totem pole of the rotten pork barrel system and corruption. Nonetheless, he could hardly conceal his  annoyance at being aptly dubbed the "pork barrel king."

Aquino continues to exploit the big scandal involving Janet Lim-Napoles to selectively persecute political rivals, especially those who are set to challenge the ruling clique in the 2016 elections. To further infuriate the people about Napoles, Aquino has exposed her transactions with anti-Aquino politicians even as he closely controls her to prevent her from disclosing her dealings with politicians within the Aquino clique.

After the Department of Justice's much-publicized move to file plunder cases against key opposition politicians failed to silence the people's protests, the Aquino regime slapped Gloria Arroyo and Napoles with an additional complaint for squandering the Malampaya funds. But this is all a grand publicity gimmick. The ruling Aquino clique has yet to prove that it is capable of seriously subjecting members of its own class to criminal prosecution and punishment.

The Filipino people, however, are keenly aware that corruption involving the pork barrel funds goes beyond the Napoles scandal. Politicians from the reactionary ruling classes have been routinely engaged in bribery, kickbacks and other pork barrel-related corruption long before Napoles came into the picture. Aquino himself received pork barrel funds in 2005, when his clan was still in good terms with the Arroyo regime. Since 2010, it has been Aquino's turn to use the pork barrel as an instrument to ensure political support for his regime. His use of these funds emboldens Aquino to immediately preempt any move by Congress to impeach him.

The Filipino people have clearly expressed the conviction that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (the congressional pork barrel) , the Presidential Social Fund, the DAP and all other unprogrammed funds whose disposition is entirely in the hands of the ruling clique in MalacaƱang must be abolished.

They have spurned the so-called new budgeting system which still grants congressmen the privilege of identifying infrastructure projects to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways--a system long ridden with corruption in the form of kickbacks and manipulated bidding. As before, it is a system that promotes patronage politics.

In advancing their struggle against the pork barrel and corruption by the ruling state, the Filipino people must train their sights on Benigno Aquino III. Not only does he sit at the top of the rotten state, he is first and foremost its main beneficiary and apologist. Aquino uses his control over billions upon billions of pesos worth of funds to buy the support of politicians and secure his rule. After three years of corruption under Aquino, it has become clear that he merely rode on the people's rage against the rottenness of the former Arroyo regime in order to conceal his own filthiness.

The Aquino regime's corruption must be exposed in more detail. We must show how he used the pork barrel funds to obtain political support in the last elections. Aside from the pork barrel, we must likewise expose how Aquino has been using his power as president to cancel contracts entered into by the Philippine government under the past regime, only to create new contracts favoring his close relatives, family members and cronies.

We must expose information regarding the clinching of big public infrastructure contracts, tax incentives and other privileges to the detriment of the people. A striking example is the demolition of urban poor communities to give way to projects of Aquino's big businessman-cohorts.

The ruling system presided over by Aquino, his fellow big landlords and the comprador bourgeoisie is inherently corrupt and rotten to the core. The socio-economic system is backward and decaying. It is unproductive and incapable of sustaining itself except through capital infusions from foreign debt and investments. The ruling classes are anti-progress and parasitical and rely merely on their political power to sustain their profligate lifestyles.

The Filipino people must put a stop to the pork barrel system. They must likewise demand the end of the bureaucrat capitalist corruption of the ruling classes of big landlords and big compradors. The Filipino people must overthrow the rotten semicolonial and semifeudal system that is at the foundation of this system of corruption.