The 2nd Mulat Pinoy Kapihan Session: On Government Resources and Population Dynamics

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by Eva Callueng

Various ways of improving the lives of Filipino electorates have been offered by political candidates for us to basically choose their positions and then eventually vote for them. Platforms are made on the implicit assumption that identification with the majority and their needs can make a candidate appear concerned and responsive to the issues at hand. The second Mulat Pinoy Kapihan Session held at Bo’s Coffee in Makati City had posed its audience many questions, as well as facts that could provide us with the notions of how the political systems can actually veer away from the traditional practices brought by generations. The more popular issues on access to government resources as well as technical procedures to ensure proper disbursements of public funds filled the cozy, air conditioned room with bearable heat, more especially when the issues about access to reproductive healthcare were placed in the limelight.

The attendance of Senate candidates from the Ang Kapatiran party list (Mr. Lito David and Mr. Reginald Tamayo), along with Rep. Raymond Palatino of the Ang Kabataan party list and Dr. Zelda Zablan made the discussions more appealing as they specifically gave their positions on pork barrel funds and population issues and concerns. Rep. Palatino shared that it is quite hard for the opposition to access this specific fund as this can be vetoed by the President. This sharing is evidenced by the fact that Congress representatives who supported the impeachment of the president in each year had not received this specific fund. For hardcore advocates in Congress, services to the people are either held back or had ceased because of this so-called ‘test of loyalty.’

Mr. Lito David, having been part of various government bodies, said that the pork barrel was formerly known as the Countrywide Development Fund back in the early 1990s. Equal sharing is given to all district representatives, regardless of population size and density of the area. The issue of equitability was countered by Dr. Zelda, pointing out that equitability involves significant elements to consider like population size and area density. The audience seemed to agree with Dr. Zelda in this regard. The current practice is recommended for review in consideration of these factors.

From the issue of equitability (which can be graphically described to be horizontal), stemmed out the bottoms-up approach (this time, a vertical one) to public service and goods. This system empowers the people in the local level as they become sources and ends of public policies and services. This approach is highly regarded by the Ang Kapatiran party list, a fact proven by the specific program of actions they envision for it. Rep.Palatino and Dr. Zelda Zablan are also keen on this approach.

Comments and questions from the audience focused on the factors hindering quality of service and development due to corruption. Project prioritization is also an issue, as pork barrel funds, in the history of the country, went to 4Bs (Basurahan, Basketball Court, Bingo, and Beauty Pageants). This practice had called the attention of the Commission on Audit (COA), which finally releasing guidelines as to where these government resource funds should be more justifiably spent. Mr. David added that the COA must be given prosecutorial powers and this was seconded by Mr. Tamayo. In this way, a more empowered check-and-balance agency will be responsible to indict those who betray public funds and trust.

At the end of the session, it was very good to know that the participants, including the panelists, left the room with a sweet smile, giving their commitments to attend the other scheduled Mulat Pinoy Kapihan Sessions until questions are satisfied and until enlightened choices are made as to who among the May 2010 National Election candidates best represent our ideals and aspirations both as Filipino citizens and freedom-loving individuals.

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