MANILA, Philippines – The lawmakers’ pork barrel is now 115 times larger than when it started in 1989, said Professor Winnie Monsod in an ambush interview Wednesday.
“The amount that went to Congress went up by 115 times. Do you know how much the price of commodities increased [since 1989]? Four times only! Eh di syempre talagang magagalit ka sa sakim. Hindi ba? (Of course you will get mad with this gluttony),” the Inquirer columnist told media during the “EDSA Tayo” prayer vigil.
Although she canceled her lecture for the day, Monsod tackled how the pork barrel started in 1989 as a P720-million development fund for Visayas and Mindanao.
“Those [legislators] from Luzon got jealous and it became the Countrywide Development Fund. It became P2.3 billion…When Aquino [came into power]…, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), VILP (Various Infrastructure including Local Projects), and the congressional insertions [totaled] P83 billion. P83 billion from P720 million,” said Monsod.
The former socioeconomic planning secretary said the problem now is what to do next.
She said the different forms of protest, such as rallies, are important but the final judgment is still the vote of the people.
“The final form is our vote in 2016,” she said, hoping that Filipinos do not have short-term memories.
“Can you imagine if there is no more PDAF? Not just PDAF but the pork barrel…there will be no dividends for congressmen. Maybe those corrupt politicians will no longer run. Who will run? Politicians who really care for the country,” Monsod added.
Monsod said the pork barrel system “has become like a cancer in the body polity.” She said even those in the local government units have also started to ask for their own form of “pork.”
“In the first place it is not efficient. It is a dissipation of our resources. Our resources are being wasted,” she said.
Monsod said the funds should instead go to agencies such as the Department of Education or to local development councils who know what the people need.
The University of the Philippines professor earlier decided to cancel her lecture on the pork barrel system after the Catholic Church prohibited the use of EDSA Shrine’s enclosed area.