Always legit is da depense

by Teddy Locsin, Jr.

Posted at Jun 23 2014 08:59 PM | Updated as of Jun 24 2014 04:59 AM

Remember the unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel? And, worse yet, the arguably criminal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)?

Yet no executive official today has been indicted, let alone detained, for taking pork when he was in Congress or dispensing it faster now that he is in the Palace.

Instead, members of Congress who have never served in the executive branch are swallowing record levels of vituperation in the media and facing conviction in court for something more than 50 generations of them were led to believe was completely legitimate.

If there was anything wrong or criminal about the pork barrel and DAP (its accelerated realignment and release which multiplied the possibility of its misuse), the legal duty lay only on the Palace to stop it instead of accelerating it. No such duty devolved on Congress.

In short, pork became what it has been in the United States since after the Civil War: legal and expected.

Before the Civil War, there was never enough money in the US Treasury for pork or even for intelligence funds let alone a defense budget.

If you are literate, Henry Adams will have informed you that when the US President believed that the United States needed money to build ships to fight pirates or the British Navy, he had to make a very specific request to Congress for that specific purpose, for the money to build a specific number of ships of a particular design, tonnage and armament. If any ships survived their mission, the US President had to return to the Treasury whatever he got from their privatization into the merchant marine.

Pork has been legal here for almost a century; since the American occupation. It is a tradition completely legalized by repeated the enactments of annual budgets that aside huge sums for members of Congress to spend as they choose, and for presidents to reward their favorites with more.

Oddly, in all the time I wrote Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s sterling SONAs that the Opposition formally acknowledged as indefeasible and brilliant beyond cavil, I never got more than the utter minimum of pork because I had apparently irked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Appropriations Committee of the House with my insults, I mean instructive comments on the floor of the House; and of course because I was too busy showing off my genius to take the time to learn how to get more—lots more which clearly I more than anyone else deserved yet never got.

That all of it was legal until the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional. And, of course, there is no retrospective application of a ruling anymore than of a law.

Insofar as congressmen and senators are concerned, this is a defense that is stronger than any defense the executive branch can put up against the illegality of PDAF and its acceleration by DAP.

The executive has always had its hands on the revenues it collects through the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), while Congress can only appropriate those revenues for specific purposes that the President can anyway change or realign and spend as he wishes on whom he will; i.e., mostly those who like to fellate the executive, politically speaking of course.

Congress, on the other hand, can only hope against hope that he will share a bit of his largesse with the Congress that appropriates it for him; and when I say a bit, I mean miniscule compared to what regularly vanishes from the unaccountable intelligence and social funds of the president.

All cases dismissed—if the courts know any law. And charges of libel lodged against media are upheld for villifying members of Congress.

I am aware that the charge is for the improper use of legally enacted and presidentially dispensed pork barrel funds; but I know that it is the job, nay the duty, of the Department of Budget and Management to make sure that pork it dispenses is, at least on the face of it, properly spent; which the DBM has never done.

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