Stories posted 2004

Legislators feed on pork

IN THEORY and in law, the legislators’ role in pork-barrel allocations remains limited to “consultation” to enable them to recommend priority projects. In practice, however, they have the final word on what projects should be funded.

The release of pork is based on the lawmakers’ request to the Department of Budget Management (DBM), detailing the nature and location of the project they want, the implementing agency, and the funds required. This setup makes legislators the lords of pork-barrel funds. It also makes them natural magnets to contractors and suppliers who offer bribes so they can sell their goods and services.

Pork is a political, not a developmental tool

IN 2001, 108 congressmen gave P162 million of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) — considered as the “main” pork-barrel allocation — for medical assistance to their constituents through the Department of Health and various government hospitals. The Philippine General Hospital, the country’s biggest state hospital, received P30.8 million.

News for Sale

news4saleNo one in journalism will deny that media corruption exists. There is contention only in the extent of the corruption and the damage it causes. This book, a sequel to the 1998 publication, which is also entitled News for Sale, documents corruption as it takes place in the single most important political exercise in a democracy: elections.

This study shows both the remarkable continuity of the forms of media corruption as well as the new types of malfeasance that emerged in the 2004 campaign. As in the 1998 edition, this version of News for Sale relies heavily on documentation (such as rate cards of broadcast networks and solicitation letters sent by radio stations to politicians) and in-depth interviews with journalists, candidates, and the media handlers of politicians and political parties.

Cockfight, Horserace, Boxing Match:
Why Elections are Covered as Sport

Media coverage of elections, in the Philippines and elsewhere, has been criticized for its superficiality. Critics have noted the propensity of the media, particularly television, to focus on personalities rather than issues and platforms. The media, it has been said, are consumed by the horserace or cockfight aspect of the campaign. Journalists cover elections as sport: Their reporting focuses on who’s leading and who’s losing out.

Representatives scramble for power, peso, and privilege

THE POLITICS in the House of Representatives has traditionally been defined by the struggle among legislators for the perks of a Congress seat. These are power, money, and prestige.

The end of the rainbow?

De Venecia’s reign is challenged

AS THE 13th Congress opens today, Jose de Venecia Jr. – Speaker of three previous post-Marcos Congresses and tireless architect of rainbow coalitions – finds himself in the middle of a scramble for power, money, and prestige more vicious than any he had experienced since he first became Speaker of the House in 1992.

Land reform program is ridden with loopholes

BGY. TINANG, CONCEPCION, Tarlac – Farmer Loreto Rivera has been tilling the soil here for the past 30 years, and it shows on every inch of his thin, bent, and sunburnt body. Now 63 years old, he knows almost every family in this barangay of 2,000 people.

In Tarlac, CARP gives land to the wealthy

BGY TINANG, CONCEPCION, Tarlac – When President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last week began her six-year term, her inaugural address had one glaring omission: it made no mention of land reform.

But it was an omission that was barely noticed. To many, and especially to the government, land reform is practically a done deal, a program nearly complete, and about which little more need be said.

The Rulemakers

This book tells the story of the Philippine legislature by examining the men and women who make up that body. It looks at their demographic characteristics (age, gender, education, profession), their assets and sources of wealth, and also their family lineage.

Even non-betting youths see nothing wrong with gambling

AS OFFICIALS of private high schools and colleges across Metro Manila grapple with the growing problem of sports gambling among their students, one mother has tried to take comfort in the fact that her teenaged son, unlike most of his classmates, has shown no interest in placing any bet. But she is nevertheless upset, she says, because the boy sees nothing wrong with what his classmates are doing.

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