Congress has been branded “the Philippines’ biggest criminal syndicate.” Taxpayers bear the government budget bloated by pork barrels. With the PhP13.02-trillion national debt, each Filipino is in hock by PhP112,600. Since the proposed budget and debt repayments come from Malacañang, only the president can stop the bleeding. Warrior-intellectual Hector M. Tarrazona pleads for Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to stop the plunder.
Retired Colonel Tarrazona, 78, was a scholar of the Asian Institute of Management, where he earned his Master in Development Management degree in 1991. He was a financial and management consultant and a former Air Force F-5 jet fighter pilot. A member of Philippine Military Academy class of 1968, he participated in the 1986 People Power Revolution. Following is his “Open Letter to the President,” September 2022, printed with permission:
“As a concerned Filipino citizen, I write because of an urgent need to stop the continuous plunder of our taxes and government-borrowed money.
“In the last 57 years we have seen two of our past presidents listed second and tenth most corrupt world leaders by Transparency International Global Corruption Report, 2004. One allegedly embezzled US$5 billion to US$10 billion, while the other US$78 million to US$80 million. The Sept. 30, 2013, cover of BizNewsAsia magazine headlined ‘The Philippines’ biggest criminal syndicate,’ referring to our senators and congressmen. And on May 26, 2014, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that ‘Twenty senators, 100 congressmen, and all of their agents in the pork barrel transactions were named in the affidavit of Janet Lim Napoles submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.’
“In 2020 the national budget deficit was PhP1.37 trillion, followed in 2021 by another deficit of PhP1.67 trillion. Despite these alarming historical figures, the proposed very bloated national budget for 2023 is PhP5.268 trillion, higher by 4.9% than the PhP5.024 trillion in 2022. I say very bloated because the current 2022 budget is already bloated to accommodate the whims of the past administration.
“House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto questioned the PhP588 billion unprogrammed appropriations in the proposed 2023 budget. On Feb. 14, 2019, the Philippine Star reported that, ‘Senators and congressmen will share a total of nearly PhP99 billion in pork barrel this year – that is, if President Duterte ignores the appeal of anti-pork Sen. Panfilo Lacson to excise fat in the administration’s proposed PhP3.757-trillion budget.’ All this happened despite the 2013 Supreme Court declaration that pork barrel is unconstitutional.
“With the above observations, please stop the plunder (especially in the form of pork barrel, PDAF, insertions, unprogrammed appropriations, or any other creative name) of our taxes and government-borrowed money. In addition, please direct the Department of Budget and Management to use the ‘zero-based budgeting’ in the preparation of the national budget with detailed itemized expenses. It’s not too late to do that, to reduce the 2023 national budget by 20 to 30 percent. This prudent measure matches the low government revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You have a golden opportunity to make history by stopping the insatiable greed of some people in government. This patriotic act will somehow assuage the feelings of betrayed taxpayers who bear the PhP13.02-trillion national government debts — a burden of PhP112,600 on every Filipino.
“I wish you more wisdom and the best of health during these challenging times.”
Jarius Bondoc is an award-winning Filipino journalist and author based in Manila. He writes opinion pieces for The Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon and hosts a radio program on DWIZ 882 every Saturday. Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).
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