Pork Barrel Plunder: What is the Next Step?

Today, the Government will be filing charges against those suspected (first batch) of stealing from the Filipino People. From here the law takes over one aspect of the case. Then there is the matter of pork barrel itself how do you reform or exorcise it from the system? And amidst these there will be rallies and other forms of mass action on-line that will highlight the problem and call attention to the Government.

What bothers me a bit is does it all end there?

The case trapped in the Philippine Justice system notoriously slower than a slug might end up like the Ampatuan Massacre Case stagnating. There is a need to prioritize such cases so that it will not be left comatose. One should not be satisfied by mere laying of charges. The enormity of the crime calls for a decisive verdict.

As for Pork Barrel let us hope it is not the case of substituting a landrace for a duroc. Reform is not accomplished by a mere name change.

Rallies, Protests and Outcries are all good but are we limited to only that?

There is a saying God Helps Those Who Help Themselves and in Tagalog there is a similar saying that states Nasa Diyos Ang Awa, Nasa Tao Ang Gawa. There is a need to work for a clean government. One just does not rely on the Government Alone. Juvenal once asked, “Who watches the Watchers?”

The answer is us.

And it has been done and continues to be done. There is a need to start oversight work and strengthen existing oversight work that would help Philippine Society – the People and its Government in combatting corruption.

In the United States it was a combination of media and organized oversight groups that stood ad watchdogs. Project On Government Oversight or POGO (http://www.pogo.org/about/) investigate waste, fraud, and abuse in the United States Federal System. How does POGO work?

IDENTIFY systemic corruption of other misconduct in federal government

Launch independent INVESTIGATIONS

Work with whistle-blowers, insiders, and other knowledgeable individuals to RESEARCH AND CONFIRM findings

Recommend COMMON-SENSE SOLUTIONS for positive change

INFORM PUBLIC of findings
Work with government officials to INITIATE SYSTEMIC POLICY IMPROVEMENTS

Continue to work towards a more EFFECTIVE, ACCOUNTABLE, OPEN, AND ETHICAL federal government

Our Methodology

While some groups are staffed with scientists or experts who focus on a single issue, POGO is an investigative organization with an expertise for working with sources inside the government and whistle-blowers to document evidence of corruption, waste, fraud, or abuse. Many of our nation’s most dedicated citizens work in and around the federal government. When they come across information revealing serious misconduct, they rightfully believe that they would risk losing their job if they came forward and “blew the whistle” on the wrongdoing they see. According to government surveys, one out of every 14 federal employees reported being retaliated against in a two-year period for making disclosures concerning health and safety dangers; unlawful behavior; and/or fraud, waste, and abuse.

POGO’s investigators and journalists take leads and information from insiders and verify the information through investigations using the Freedom Of Information Act, interviews, and other fact-finding strategies. We then report on our findings to the media, Congress, and public interest groups through alerts, statements, and studies. At the same time, we protect the identity of our insider partners the way that reporters in the mainstream media do, ensuring that they are not punished for their patriotism. [SOURCE]

In the Philippines, We see similar work in media and civil society – notably Philippine Center for Journalism and Social Watch Philippines. Other similar work has been seen in monitoring campaign abuses like Blogwatch’s Epal Watch. A proposed next step would be to start, strengthen and network all oversight efforts. And that could be done by using two important resources readily available :

The Internet: Cyberspace can be used to do four important things. Create content and replicate it. Collect and Collate content. Distribute content to create awareness and advocacy. And communicate and mobilize people.

The People: Despite the fact that the Philippines has an Internet Penetration Rate of 35% [SOURCE] ; A smartphone penetration rate of 15%; A tablet-penetration rate of 5 %; and owning multiple handset is limited to only 10 % [SOURCE] One can still tap or recruit people connected on-line. These people or citizen volunteers can form a network that would provide the means, expertise, and time to oversight the government, both at national and local level.

What would be then needed is to form this network and use Internet: Social Technology to provide a communication channel, a forum and a portal; and set-up procedures how to validate stories; how to deal with corruption; And how to protect its sources /whistleblowers.

Who watches the Watchmen?

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