If politicians can steal billions, we are overburdened with tax

SOURCE: GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (2018). That they have hundred-billions to steal means we’re overtaxed. The Philippine Star. December 19, 2018 - 12:00am. https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/12/19/1878158/they-have-hundred-billions-steal-means-were-overtaxed

Those inserted or parked pork total nearly P750 billion. That’s one-fifth of the P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019.

Pork barrels have fattened exponentially since 2013, when the Supreme Court outlawed them (see Gotcha, 10 Dec. 2018: https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/12/10/1875664/are-our-lawmakers-so-untrustworthy). Before then it used to be P70 million for each of 292 congressmen and P200 million for each of 24 senators, or P25.24 billion in all. The lawmakers multiplied it 30 times with impunity – because they can and want to.

Kickbacks from pork projects used to be 10, then 15, then 25 percent. One ex-senator now eyeing a comeback notoriously demanded 50 percent for himself and five for his chief of staff, leaving only 45 percent for the infra-work. From the Napoles exposés we learned that senators and congressmen can pocket entire porks by faking the projects and the beneficiaries – even passing off entire published lists of licensure exam passers for the latter.

The P750 billion in pork-for-theft can be better used to shelter the homeless, care for the sick, and build more roads, railways, sea and airports. It can solve the roots of insurgency and advance the country technologically. Then again, officials will only steal from such works. Better to just let us be and stop taxing us any more.

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