- A senator is entitled to P200 million in pork barrel, a congressman P70 million. Provincial governors and city and municipal mayors have access to the Internal Revenue Allotment, the local governments’ share from national taxes collected.
- Many political families whose members hold national and local posts thus can lay their hands on billions of pesos in taxpayers’ money.
- Twenty political families with many incumbent government officials elected last May have in their influence a total of close to P20 billion for this year.
- At least nine families have access and influence over more than P1 billion each in government funds for 2007 alone, i.e., the Marañons of Negros Occidental, the Plazas of Agusan del Sur, the Garcias of Cebu, the Garin-Cari-Petilla clan of Iloilo and Leyte, the Espinos of Pangasinan, the Zubiris of Bukidnon, the Maliksis of Cavite, the Marcos-Romualdez clan of Ilocos Norte, Leyte and Navotas, and the Reyeses of Palawan.
- Nine political families have members in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Thus, they have in their discretion P2.7 billion in pork barrel for this 2007 alone.
- The legislators assign their pork barrel to their favorite projects. Some senators and congressmen, however, do not use up the entire amount they are entitled to.
- Prof. Leonor Briones of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance noted that powerful clans can call the shots when it comes to expenditures such as those on health and education. “The hanky-panky depends on how powerful they are… Total control by a dynasty is more possible in very remote areas like the Dinagat Islands or Masbate or Maguindanao," says Briones, former national treasurer.
That's a lot of money in my book! Or in anyone's book, mind you. With all the talk about the funds allocated for the honorable members of the country's political clans, I couldn't help but think about and ponder on the need for, and importance of, check-and-balance in governance. More often than not, an active civil society or the presence of a strong opposition council promotes a level of transparency in the local government. Thus, less graft and corruption. After all, public office is not private graft! Tsk.
And oh! Prof. Briones hit the bull's eye with:
- "But certain political families managed to keep up with the changing times. There are so-called dynasties where younger ones are professionals, highly educated. They are not blatant. Mas subtle, hindi garapalan."