Cartoon by Roni Santiago
Cartoon by Roni Santiago
The “pork barrel” scam is a mess we cannot simply put under the rag not only because it involves congressmen and senators but also because the amount involved, P10 billion, is huge when viewed from the standpoint of poor Filipinos.

If this big amount were used to bankroll anti-poverty projects, it would have alleviated the plight of thousands of poor people. If the P10 billion were used to fund the construction of water-impounding dams, it would have improved a lot the living condition of thousands of farmers, whose farms are rain-irrigated. If the enormous amount were used to build schoolhouses in remote areas, the children would not have to hike several kilometers daily to go to schools.

Seen against the backdrop of suffering Filipinos, this particular scam gives us a hint of the moral bankruptcy of those involved, particularly the lawmakers. That they have the gall to pocket their priority development assistance funds (PDAF), also known as pork barrel, is disheartening. They were elected to serve the people, particularly the poor, but it now appears that they have their own selfish agenda.

We’re not saying that the 98 congressmen and senators linked to the scam are guilty as alleged, but the fact that their PDAFs were channeled to ghost non-government organizations (NGOs) shows that there is prima facie evidence against them.

If they claim that they did not know that the NGOs were non-existent, they don’t deserve to stay a minute longer in their positions because it would mean they are soundly sleeping on the job.

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The Aquino administration should exert all efforts to pin down these lawmakers if only to prove that its “matuwid na daan” battle cry is real, and not a mere slogan.

It is heartwarming, though, to note that the Department of Justice (DoJ) is readying charges against those involved in the scam.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lim has expressed DoJ’s resolve to file charges against the people linked to the scam, saying the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is now validating the accuracy of the list of the lawmakers involved.

She assured that the complaints will be supported by “enough evidence.”

“There are complaints we are now preparing to file most probably with the Ombudsman,” De Lima told reporters.

She also said, “There are names being mentioned, but as I said it is undergoing a process of validation. Yung puwede naming sampahan ng kaso ay ‘yung mga suportado ng sapat na ebidensya, both testimonial and documentary.”

Earlier, five senators and 98 congressmen were mentioned as among the people implicated in the mess.

The DoJ should leave no stone unturned in the preparation of the charges. This will ensure that the long arm of the law will finally catch the big fish.