Miyerkules, Enero 10, 2018

How your congressman steals your taxes



 By Mortz C. Ortigoza

On my recent TV interview with Davao City’s Congressman Karlo Alexei Nograles, Chairman of the powerful Appropriation Committee, he told me that congressmen don’t identify the recipients of their projects in their district because it was unlawful.
I disagreed.
I told Nograles, who is rumored to have a moist eye for the Senate, that in my province even the losing bidders get three percent of the allocated funds from the government that is shelled out to them by the winning bidder after the moro-moro or for show’s tender in mockery of the Procurement Law.
Image result for congress philippines
The Lower House of the Philippines Congress.
I said I was thankful between the wrangling of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his erstwhile best friend Davao del Norte Rep. Tony Boy Floreindo many Filipinos learned that their conflict did not zero on the “mani’ (mistresses’ clits to put humor on the pussy, er, poser)” but real people’s “money” that Alvarez muscled out to deprive Floreindo, Rep. Imelda Marcos, and 22 opposition congressmen.

Without their entitlement to identify the recipients of their multi-million pesos projects, congressmen will be deprived with the twenty percent or more S.O.P or Standard Operational Procedure that goes to their personal pockets.


                                    Cut for the Solon
 Here’s a private contractor that would collaborate my thesis that congressmen and his favored contractors rob the coffer that resulted to substandard services and infrastructures to the government.
In ten million pesos farm-to-market road he told me how the Filipino people are fleeced into this perennial malpractice.
 “15 percent lang ang tubo ko diyan. 15 percent bigay ko sa congressman, 5 percent sa DPWH (Department of Public Works & Highway) bigwigs and the boys nila to divide, and 10 percent kay mayor,” he enumerated.
He cited that before he wins the bidding for the project at the DPWH, he first gets the nod of the other two bidders who would quote the first two highest bids to make the project so they would lose while my source, who bids the lowest ten million projects wins.
“I will give them P300 thousand to divide among them or to those other bidders who are interested to the project”.
When I asked him how much he shell-out to the village chief that will sign their approval of the completion work, he told me he gives the “Kapitan” P5000.
“Pag maganda ang mood ko at humirit ang kapitan na bigyan din iyong mga kagawad (members of the village’s legislative council), binibigyan ko sila ng P10 thousand”.
To quantify how government funds are pocketed, the narrations say: More than 45 percent goes to those people I mentioned, while the Republic of the Philippines settle for the more than 50 percent or more than P5 million of the P10 million farm-to-market road from the taxpayers’ monies.
My other sources told me that in other projects if the congressman or congresswoman is greedy, government settles for the crumbs or the 40 percent while 60 percent of the funding is divided by the solon and those other vultures.
This scenario of how the public monies, be it P10 million or 100 million are swindled and gouged, my informant said, are endemic all over the Philippines.

                                  Solons want to tinker with the funds
Here’s the friction in 2016 that ensued between a group of congressmen and former Secretary Judy Taguiwalo of the Department of Social Welfare & Development when she was defending her budget at the August Chamber.
Representatives Rudy Farinas, Alfredo Garbin of Bicol Partylist, and Arnie Teves of Negros Oriental lectured her that the solons have the power of the purse to appropriate funds to government departments like DSWD.
That power, according to them, allows them to identify as recipients their poor constituents.
Taguiwalo, a straight shooter who despised how solons want these funds, told them the DSWD Memorandum Circular 9 she signed does not intend to bar congressmen from endorsing beneficiaries.
The Secretary maintained, however, that the Circular seeks to stop the practice of congressmen getting favored projects in the DSWD after she received information that there was an allocation of projects for lawmakers even after the Supreme Court scrapped the pork barrel.
“Ang point lang namin, ang DSWD ay willing makipagtulungan sa mga representative. Pero hindi po puwedeng parang may entitlement na may milyon kayo,” she told them.
The issue here, son of a gun, is simple:
Congressmen, several of them graduated with Bachelor of Laws at Ateneo de Manila and the University of the Philippines, had stooped too low by asserting themselves to identify tens of millions of projects because they want to get the 20 percent S.O.P (slang for cut) from their favorite private contractors, a source told me.
Despite being mandated by the Constitution that congressmen make laws while those in the executive department implement the law, this old practice persisted because of quid pro quo between Malacañang and Congress where Senators and Congressmen expedite the passing of the bill the President wants in exchange of the “pork barrel” where the solon can get their cut.
                       Execs, solons caught in a hidden tape recorder
Here’s a tape recorded conversation between high executive officials and some congressmen that would refute the denial of the members of congress that unlawful entitlement still ensues in the government.
Pork barrel is alive and kicking, even after the Supreme Court struck off the Disbursement Acceleration Program, if based on the pronouncements in August 2014 of Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Chair Patricia Lichuanan and Health Undersecretary Janet Guarin.
Both said, as taped by the staff of ACT Teachers Congressman Antonio Tinio, that all the P14 million budget for scholarship of the Commission on Higher Education in every congressional district, and all the Medical Assistance Program (MAP) in every government hospital have been intended for the recommendation of the congressman who are the real recipient of that project.
“There are many people out there, who really think I now have P4.1-billion new scholarships. They don’t think it’s the PDAF, they don’t think it’s going to you (lawmakers) … And then I’m supposed to tell them ‘No! No! Don’t do that, because actually the congressmen are all going to get it,’”Licuanan said.
 “We have to go through this kind of semblance. We understand each other. I really want to cooperate,” she continued.
She also confided that her regional directors actually thought they had an extra P14 million in scholarship grants for each district so she had to tell them that this was “really for the congressmen,” as written on August 12 by the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s titled  “Party-list rep presents ‘smoking gun’ on pork”.
The same article said: “Tinio also revealed a recording of Garin, a former Iloilo Representative, during a meeting between officials of the Department of Health (DOH) and House members last May 20 to iron out the “chaos and confusion” on the medical assistance program (MAP) of lawmakers inserted in the 2014 budget.
Garin said the MAP would only be available to individuals recommended by lawmakers or their designated staff.
Now here’s my poser: Have you not seen your congressman or congresswoman and his or her family flaunting their wealth while they don’t have any big business to show how they source those monies and “manis”?
“How can that man buy one thousand pesos per head of vote when he has no conspicuous business while the money I used to buy votes come from my family business?” a then government high official asked me by lambasting an incumbent congressman  when they clashed in a congressional election where each spent hundreds of millions of pesos to buy votes for a position that could not even give one hundred thousand pesos monthly salary.

(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at totomortzmarcelo@gmail.com)

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