If there’s anything to be learned over the past few days about the Senate cash gift brouhaha, it’s this; people in power will always distribute the spoils to their favored few and not to those itching to oust them in whatever way possible.
Thus it was no surprise when Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile give a bigger slice of the pork barrel pie to allies like Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, whose father is with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) camp and a small piece to foes like Sen. Miriam Santiago and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Why this mess reached a point in which Enrile had to execute a gambit by declaring a vote of confidence on the floor and then having to listen to Cayetano’s privilege speech about his chief of staff being “the power behind the throne” so to speak, we can only scratch our collective heads and try to trace back the events leading to this shameful washing of dirty linen.
With so many exposes about how people’s money is being used by elected and appointed officials to enrich themselves one would think that the Senate cash gift controversy is nothing new.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s somber declaration that they are the losers in this latest money scandal could only elicit yawns and “what else is new?” responses from the not so cynical few despite the Aquino administration’s proclaimed mission to pursue the “straight and narrow path” or “daang matuwid.”
At the risk of simplifying things, Enrile does exercise the prerogative of dispensing the Senate funds as he deems it fit by virtue of his post. Senators like Cayetano can grumble all they want about the unfair distribution of “cash gifts.”
But to be blunt about it, that’s how the way it is for people in power and they can only look to their counterparts in the Lower House to see this point.
For local comparison, Cebu City residents need only look at Mayor Michael Rama and his distribution of funds and assignments to political allies and foes in the council and the barangays.
When asked why there were fewer assignments to councilors identified with his former patron Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district, Rama bluntly said “I don’t give assignments to those not interested to work with me” or words to that effect.
One could perhaps draw more similarities between Rama and Enrile, who actually belong to the same UNA camp. But again, it’s very difficult for leaders to extend a hand of reconciliation and cooperation to officials merely interested in expanding their own agenda and this also involves dispensing public funds.
Regardless, if there’s to be an audit of Senate and local funds then so be it. The public should be told how their money is being spent even for cash gifts among their elected and appointed officials.