Lunes, Marso 17, 2014

How Senators, Congressmen, Mayors Steal

By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA, MPA

Are members of the 16th Congress still illegal recipients of the 10, 20 or more percent cut (S.O.P in the vernacular) from every project they interceded for in Malacanang?
In the March 6 page 2 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer “ Pork” still working for lawmakers” Leila B. Salaverria wrote: “The PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) was then realigned to six executive agencies – the Commission on Higher Education (P2.66 billion); Department of Education (P1.022 billion); Department of Health (P3.69 billion); Department of Social Welfare & Development of Social Welfare & Development (P4.71 billion); Department of Labor & Employment (P3.69 billion); and Department of Public Works and Highways (P9.654 billion)”.
Does it mean if a subservient congressional ally of Malacanang can chalk up P10 million from one of this government entities through the imprimatur of the power-that-be, it is still monkey business as usual between the solon and his favorite private contractor?
As you know, one of the motivations for politicians in running for congressional office is the S.O.P they can get from the private contractor or supplier that implements a government project they scored. Before the evil Janet Napoles brought them to hell, the greediest of them I know in Region 1 pocketed up to 60% of a project allocated in a dredging operation of a river. This anomaly ensued through a conspiracy with the private contractor, members of the DPWH and Commission on Audit, and the lawmaker. Only 40% or P4 million goes to the haphazardly made operation while the P6 million of the P10 million projects have been divided by these vultures where the Lion share goes to the heartless solon.
With Malacanang needing the votes of members of Congress for important bills, it can marshal these vulnerable solons by ordering the heads of these departments and agencies to implement some of the billions of pesos of projects at their disposal to the district or constituency of the ally congressman or senator.
A hundred of millions of pesos project for the district of a congressman could make a difference between a pork-less solon and a gluttonous solon that gets P20 million kickback a year from the conniving private contractor.
Has pork barrel indeed returned with a different name, different system of distribution, and with a vengeance?
“Sa akin iyong P200 million pork (2014) ko pina re-allign ko sa calamity fund,” Senator Alan Peter Cayetano told me in Pilipino when I told him about my above observation when he dropped by at the Dagupan City museum in March 10.
“In case a congressman who has clout with Malacanang chalked up say P10 million projects from DPWH, can the solon ask his favorite private contractors to bid and give him his 10-20 percent cut? Has the pork returned?” I posed to Cayetano.
“Maybe it has returned,” he retorted.
***
If a senator and congressman pocket government funds through the pork, here’s how the mayor mumbo jumbo government monies that go to their pocket.
A city mayor in a local government unit (LGU) with a P700 million appropriation for calendar year 2014 can stash away 10 % (or 20% if he is rapacious) of the 30 % infrastructure funds from the P700 budget.
30% of the P700 million is P210 million. 10% of his S.O.P from the 30% (P210 million) in infrastructure projects is P21 million. In a three -year term the lucky enterprising son of a gun corrupt mayor gets P63 million!
Opps, mukhang malaki ang kurakot ng mayor sa congressman dito sa illustration ko. And I'm not talking how much a governor earns a year or in three years.
The  stealing binge would be more exciting if the LGU would be as big as Quezon City that  has a yearly budget of up to P14 billion.
And it does not stop there. He can still get a kickback or percentage from the private garbage collector and 5% monthly from the illegal number game jueteng or Jai-Alai of Meridian Corporation whose legality is pending for years now through an injunction at the Court of Appeals (mukhang pati sila justices ng C.A may S.O.P na din?).
When Oscar Rodriguez, the former mayor of San Fernando City, Pampanga, visited two years ago the Stadia in Dagupan City, he told the attendees of a convention in good governance that probably he was one if not few of the mayors in the Philippines who did not accept goodwill money from officials of the Top 500 Corporation in the country that wants to build shop in a city or town.
He said the practice was Mall A or Corporation B greases first the hand of the hizzoner with millions of pesos before getting the permit to do business in his turf.
Sabagay iyong mga ordinario at uhugin na municipal or city councilor dito sa Pangasinan kumikita ng kalahating milyon bawat isa sa mga business entity na pumapasok o sa loan na pampagawa ng palengke o terminal, iyong mayor pa kaya na pumipirma  with finality sa documents ng investors.
I remember a city councilor two years ago confiding to me that in case a giant retail mall enters the city each of his colleague in the august chamber would be a beneficiary of a P3 million goodwill money from the mall owner just for them to convert through a resolution the site of the mall from agricultural to commercial.
Anak ng baka, who says that being a public official is a thankless job?!
(Send comments to totomortz@yahoo.com)

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