The New, Improved PDAF

                        “A rose by any other name is still a rose.”

                                                -0-

Citing time -and not necessarily public outrage- the President announced he was abolishing the PDAF, the boon to the nation that DBM Sec. Abad earlier declared could only be taken down by Congress. The program would be replaced by PDAF 2, a new and improved version that contains novel safety and styling features approved by the FDA  and Homeland Security.

To launch the new product, the Presidential Communications Group Et Al. kicked off a nationwide contest for best tag line (Submissions should be made to Go.Go.Go.PDAF@Malacanang.org.). Entries so far received are:

       PDAF 2: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

       PDAF 2: Senators and Congressmen may re-apply. No prior experience needed.

       PDAF 2: Killing you softly.

       PDAF 2: All the gain without the pain.

       PDAF 2: Satisfaction guaranteed or money back, bathtub included. Service fees may apply.

       PDAF 2: All the pork you can eat, Ombudsman free.

       PDAF 2: How to win Congressmen and influence people.

       PDAF 2: All the things you wanted to ask a Senator but never dared.

       PDAF 2: Your business is important to us. Please stay on the line and a Senator will soon be with you.

The first prize is dinner with Lady J, wine included, at the Ritz Carlton in LA. Second prize, subject to availability, is a modest meal with one Mom Naporkless, wine prohibited, at an airconditioned location in Makati.

PDAF 2 retains the basic feature of its predecessor, namely, Congressmen still get to pitch their personal charities for public funding. However, these will now be submitted in the Budget as “line items” as opposed to the previous lump sum allocation (P200 million per Senator and P70 million per Representative) so popular with our politicians. Assuming each of the 289 Representatives and 24 Senators endorses say, 10 projects, Congress will vet 3,130 PDAF proposals. At five projects per business day, the list and the 2014 Budget should be done by 2017 which really is not a bad thing.

PDAF 2 will now be implemented by Government agencies and private contractors rather than by NGOs i.e. the cookie jar will be transferred from non-accountable non-profits to civil servants and non-accountable for-profits. Incidentally, these are the same civil servants who made possible the fertilizer, Malampaya Fund and alleged Napoles billion peso scams. Members of Congress can continue to collect their share of the loot with a little bit of imagination and coddling of suppliers.

PDAF 2 will no longer be available for “soft projects” like thrash deodorizers and school meals for kids. It will be restricted to “hard projects” like roads and schools.

Legislators can now only endorse projects in their districts. While this makes sense for Congressmen, it does not for Senators whose mandate is national. On the contrary, the latter should be prohibited from recommending funding for their bailiwicks. As is the prevalent practice, a Senator should not be able to allocate his PDAF to his province to support his relatives running for local office. This is how family dynasties are perpetuated.

PDAF 2, it is said, is now fully transparent since pork proposals will be on public display. In practice, however, neither the public nor our hard working politicians are likely to scrutinize the thousands of line-item proposals. So we will continue to be mugged but this time, thank goodness, with advance notice and in broad daylight.

 It is unclear whether the President is philosophically enamored with pork as a developmental tool or his advisers are financially and politically endeared with this means of sustenance. PNoy recently fired a Palace consultant hired by Exec. Secretary Paquito Ochoa with reported ties to Napoles (coincidentally the same Ochoa who Mrs. Napoles claims, without prompting, had nothing to do with anything) suggesting that the tentacles of PDAF have penetrated the inner circles of Malacanang.

If the President wants to recover from what so far has been a train wreck, he should shut down PDAF, in whatever form. Congressmen (or anybody else) can “suggest” projects for Executive funding but understand it is not an entitlement.

There is some good news. Earlier this week Mrs. N surrendered to the President (It was nice of him to motor to the PNP HQ to receive her). She fears for her life, she claims, while professing she has nothing to say. So why the glum? Perhaps it was to collect the P10 million bounty. Otherwise, the lady seems ready to do what she does best, make a deal. The first hint is the air-conditioned cell and the sofa. Senators and Representatives, I would start lawyering up, times ten.

The other good news: In what can only be a miracle, the PDAF has shrunk from P27 billion when DBM Sec. Abad proudly unveiled its budget prior to the Napoles’ revelations last month to now P25.2 billion, a drop of P1.8 billion.

People, if we hang in there long enough, maybe this thing could disappear altogether.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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One Response to The New, Improved PDAF

  1. Arthur says:

    “Complicated” may be a gross understatement !

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