Yesterday, Speaker Prospero Nograles, based on accounts of several newspapers claimed that as part of his effort to improve the image of the House of Representatives, he would push for making the congressional “pork barrel” system more transparent. In line with his effort, he will request his fellow congressmen to inform anyone who cares to know where the pork barrel funds allocated for the district are going to. While this is laudable, given reports of ghost projects and ghost deliveries, this hardly scrapes the bottom of the “rot” that goes in the implementation of most projects funded by the pork.
It might have gone unnoticed. But it is not uncommon that a new District Engineer usually takes over after a new Congressman assumes his post. The District Engineer, who owes his appointment to the Congressman, is now of course hostage to the biddings of his “real boss”. What follows are rigged biddings, bloated estimates, favored contractors and a patronage laden payroll. (Until now, five months after we have submitted our PMC Report on bloated estimates of DPWH projects implemented in Naga City, no action has been taken by concerned government agencies —Milking them dry, December 26, 2007 ). The fault lies not in the pork but in the manner that it is programmed, dispensed and disbursed. Of course, this will always be denied. But ask anyone who has dealt with DPWH district offices, he will tell you this is public knowledge. It is unfortunate that DPWH bears the brunt of the public’s condemnation(willingly, in many cases, as they also are beneficiaries ). When things go wrong, the Congressman can easily point a finger to DPWH. How can one who is part of the problem be not part of the blame?
If Speaker Nograles is truly interested in refurbishing the image of the House, he may want to consider doing more than just issuing press releases. He can do what no other Speaker has done. He will tell his colleagues in the House to lay off their hands in the implementation of their pork-funded public works projects. Speaker Nograles might lose his post. But he can best be remembered for doing something worthwhile for one of the least admired institutions of our government.
Can the Speaker hack it? Or is this just another press release?