As people step out of the shadows to reveal themselves as the source of the so-called cash gifts that were distributed to select congressmen and provincial governors last October 11, the issue gets more and more muddled, and the actual source of the funds murkier.
Twelve days after the incident occurred, two members of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) claimed that the LPP was the source of the P500, 000 cash gifts that were given out notably to the neophyte Pampanga governor, the former priest Ed Panlilio and Bulacan governor Joselito Mendoza. LPP Spokesman Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and LPP secretary general, Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone, said that the money was an amount normally given to first-term governors. However, several governors also claimed that they knew nothing about such a program.
Yesterday, almost a month after the incident occurred, the President’s own party claimed responsibility for the P200,000 that was given to congressmen. Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (KAMPI) regional head Rep. Amelita Villarosa confirmed that KAMPI was the source of the cash gifts that were given to selected congressmen, saying that this was KAMPI’s way of helping congressmen who needed financial assistance. As to why money was given to Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Villarosa explained that her party “party provided assistance on a case-to-case basis, whether they were with the administration or the opposition bloc.” As to why it took so long for KAMPI to come out into the open, Villarosa said that the party did not want everybody to seek financial aid from it. She went on to say that, since the money given out came from a private fund, there was no need for an investigation.
The fact that the two admissions came out so long after the incident occurred is an indication of the effort of the administration spinmeisters to create a plausible reason for cash gifts to be given within the very halls of Malacañang. Unfortunately, the time gap between the “gift-giving” and the admission creates the impression that the LPP and KAMPI are fall guys in this mess. If there was nothing wrong with the cash giving, why did they only come out now? Furthermore, why haven’t those governors and congressmen who received cash gifts come out, if there was nothing wrong?
Considering that majority of our countrymen wallow in poverty, the cash gifts are obscene gestures if they actually came from LPP and KAMPI. These entities have that much money to throw around? Wow. Couldn’t they have used the money more judiciously, like actually assist the poor?
Supposedly, these gifts are for the benefit of the governors’ and congressmen’s constituencies. However, like the pork barrel funds, they cannot be audited, so who’s to say that the money actually reaches and benefits the people? More likely, these cash gifts are obvious symbols of the corruption that pervades our political landscape because they simply line the already deep pockets of our government officials. The fact that they are distributed openly, and that officials, notably Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, see nothing wrong with such gifts, only tells us that the corruption in the government is so bad that officials can openly say that they see nothing wrong with it.
Unfortunately, we ourselves have become so jaded and cynical about it that we simply shrug our shoulders and say, “So, what else is new?” And, since we stand by and do nothing, these officials, elected and appointed, continue their corrupt ways with impunity.