Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pork: The Culture of Palusot

The on-going issue about pork caught my attention in more ways than one.  For starters, there is that statement of the PMAyers against it.  Did I hear anyone shout: Inventors and propagators of corruption in the AFP and PNP?  But that is just for starters.  The pork issue is simply the reflection of the current Philippine society where corruption is almost expected and definitely tolerated and accepted in all sectors.  Why is it that despite its obvious illegality and the President not acting against it pronto and with decisiveness, nobody is protesting against the President and insinuating his complicity in all this mess?  Yes, I believe that the President also has grease in his hands.  Why?  Because it is expected and tolerated.

People will say Pulis na Pogi is out of his mind.  But wait, take a moment and look around:  do you still remember of the following issues that blew in the media in the recent past?

1.        Corruption in the Church – Pajero bishops, priest of Bong Pineda, pedophile priests…the issues are so numerous that only a fool would say that there is no corruption in the church—financial or moral.

2.        Corruption in the Media – AC/DC columnists like Tulfo, envelopmental journalism, media practitioners (kuno) making a beeline to my office asking for gas and lunch money.  Media is another corrupt sector that only a bigger fool would say otherwise.

3.        Private Sector – Recently in the news: homeowners associations employing an agency that is not registered with the SAGSD-SOSIA.  The agency itself is employing unlicensed security guards.  Now one of these guards killed a homeowner who happened to be a scuba diver who helped in the search and retrieval operations of Sec. Robredo.  What came to my mind?  Corruption in the homeowners associations, which is supposed to be among the smallest units of governance in our communities, just a bit bigger than the family.  How did that situation happen?  Answer:  may kumitang mga opisyales ng homeowners association.

This list will go on and on and on and on if I do not stop.  Corruption in the Philippines is not only in the customs, immigration, police, public works or in the government in general but it is very much alive in the private sectors as well.  Lawyers, doctors, teachers, janitors, tricycle drivers, executives, name it, and I will tell you while looking straight in your eyes that many of these people will commit corruption given that smallest chance.  Why?  Because being corrupt is almost accepted in our society and is nothing to be really ashamed about.

How many of us had seen the palatial house of a neighbor working in the customs bureau as a clerk yet told nothing to our children.  Some of us may have encouraged our children to join the customs bureau!  How many of us PNP personnel saw a chief inspector driving around in a brand new Pajero yet say nothing about it?  Most of the time, we even admire the guy as somebody who is magaling! 

The Culture of Palusot

From my pulis point of view, one of the major contributors fuelling this culture of corruption is the culture of palusot that we see everywhere: in the streets, in the schools, in the church, in the offices, and everywhere else, including the anti-pork rally.  It is the culture that allows us—with a grin—to “just let pass” or just let go the “small things” like parking in front of a no parking sign because everybody else gets away with it.  This includes the attitude “hayaan na lang natin si Robin Padilla” to get away with violation of Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines during the anti-pork rally.  The law says: "Art. 179. Illegal use of uniform or insignia. — The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period shall be imposed upon any person who shall publicly and improperly make use of insignia, uniforms or dress pertaining to an office not held by such person or to a class or persons of which he is not a member." 

This is the same law that Joseph Estrada violated during his stunt at the Welcome Rotunda about the bus access to Manila issue just a few weeks ago. 

"Hayaan na lang natin sila tutal maliit na bagay lang naman yan.And this is where the problem starts.

It has to be realized that “maliit” and “malaki” largely depends on perspectives.  What is small for one person may be enormous for the other while what is everything for another may be totally insignificant for the others.  Like money…

For the AFP generals, P50M is just pabaon.  But for other AFP personnel, P50M is an amount that they can only dream about.  For the PNP generals, P7M in euros is just pocket money for their wives gallivanting in Moscow while for other policemen, it is more than double than their retirement pay after serving the police for 35 years.  People kill for P2 in cara y cruz but Mrs. Gutierrez, the wife of PDEA Director General Jose Gutierrez Jr., does not mind losing millions in the casinos—and her husband does not mind getting this money from drug lords.  Carlos Gadapan, the whistleblower was kicked out by Mr. Clean Pnoy!  Yet where was the collective outrage in that just like what we show against the pork barrel? 

The culture of palusot also spawns another deadly malaise:  the “hayaan mo na culture.”  The culture of apathy and indifference.  The general shrug of “walang pakialam.”  We see this everywhere.  We know that importing used clothes is illegal but ukay ukay stalls are everywhere.  Where is the rage?  We know that newly built roads like the one from Bicutan to Rizal passing at the side of Laguna de Bay is not supposed to melt like chocolate at the first rain, but heck it did in 2010.  Where was the rage?  And for the PNP, we know that the salary of the generals is just around P60,000 per month yet we see them wallow in luxury—houses in Corinthians, White Plains, Ayala Alabang, and Blueridge, condo units in Makati, late model luxury cars just to cite a few.  We know that most of their money are not from their salaries, yet, where is the rage?

This culture of palusot and hayaan mo na is actually very much alive in the PNP.  This can be seen by the current attitude of officers compared to the past.  Before, the position of confidence is the intelligence office.  Most commanders, when assigned to his major command, brings along with him his trusted intelligence officer.  But now, it is not the case.  The bitbit is the comptroller.  Wow!

I can somehow pardon corruption by the intelligence officer because generally, the dirty money that flows in intelligence is not the organizational funds but rather the protection money and bribes of the operators of illegal activities like Bong Pineda and Atong Ang who pay off key officers of PRO 1 and PRO 3 to insure that their Jueteng and Jai Alai are not being “bulabog.”  Compare that to the comptrollers.  They are entrusted with the organization’s money intended for MOOE and other programmed and unprogrammed expenses.  But is it not supposed to be a work for a lowly civilian?  This is supposed to be the work of a paper pusher because all monies released are already identified with object classes.  01 for personnel services, 02 for travel, etc.  How difficult is that?  Well, here is what makes it difficult.

The PNP annual budget is around P60B.  Yes with a B.  According to the PNP ITP, 90% of this budget goes to personnel services.  That is a cool P54B.  In my simple pulis mateksmateks, if you divide that amount equally to all 140,000 policemen, that will allow the PNP to give a cool salary of 32,000 a month. to every policemen.  But how many policemen are paid 32K?  Up to the rank of SPO4, the base pay is less than 30K and for PO1 to PO3 who compose 80% of the force, the average pay is just 16K monthly.  By my estimates, the PNP only needs around 30B annually for pay and allowances.  What about the other 24B?  This is where the comptrollers come in.  This is the equivalent of pork in the PNP.  And that will be the subject of another article.  And yet we will just be talking about Object Class 01 only.

In closing, I remember that last scene in the movie CHiPs where the lead actors (who were both police officers and partners to boot) had just made up after clashing for most part of the movie over the pettiest of things.  One guy made an illegal left turn in an open street.  Despite the new found goodwill, the other guy chases him, presumably to give him a ticket.

No palusot.