It’s clear that a number of former President Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives are loath to give up the perks they enjoyed under Arroyo’s nine years in office, despite the fact that these perks were either self-aggrandizing, or symbolic of the corruption that characterized the Arroyo administration.
The newest perk to be removed is President Noynoy Aquino’s order to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that politicians’ names and faces should not be placed on billboards advertising their supposed sponsorship of DPWH projects.
Arroyo’s allies were quick to protest this move, and it’s interesting to note those who were reported to have spoken out. Of particular interest are Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, who spent $10,000 wining and dining former President Arroyo during a U.S. trip, and Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco, who, as TESDA head, apparently spent millions on a TESDA ad featuring himself and singer Sarah Geronimo. Throw in Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros Magsaysay, and one can see a pantheon of those who supported and probably encouraged corruption during the Arroyo administration.
Perhaps their various reasons may make sense in their ears, but, to the discerning public, their reasons are simply pathetic and stupid. Suarez’s assertion that placing the cost of the project and the contractor’s name in lieu of the politicians’ mugs will only make it easier for the New People’s Army rebels to demand revolutionary tax suggests that the Quezon representative has been funding the rebels and is guilty of helping perpetuate the insurrection. Syjuco’s desire to be recognized ignores the fact that his public works projects are funded via his pork barrel funds, which are, in fact, taxpayers’ money. If that’s the case, maybe Syjuco should erect a billboard with his constituents’ faces, since ultimately, they are the ones paying for the project, not him.
The problem with politicians’ faces on billboards is that it perpetuates the corrupt practice of patronage politics, wherein the politicians, through the billboards, reminds the constituents who their patron is, and that they should be grateful to the politician for the assistance, especially when the next election comes along. The constituents forget, though, that it isn’t the politician who is paying for the project; they are.
The current administration’s order to place the contractor and the cost will make it more difficult for politicians to hire shady contractors and make questionable deals wherein the politicians are able to skim some of the funds for their own use. By placing the name of the contractors, it will be easier to go after them should the project turn out to be faulty.
I’m glad that President Aquino has been working to remove the vestiges of corrupt practices. He started out with the ban on wang wangs, and has shown that he is consistent as he goes after other symbols of misguided importance. From the looks of it, the Filipino people are supportive of those moves. Those in the minority who cannot let go of the past will simply marginalize themselves further as they attempt to hold to practices that are no longer viable. With any luck, these idiots will marginalize themselves out of Philippine politics.