This is going to be controversial, but I’m really happy Pnoy is abolishing the PDAF. I think it was a step in the right direction. I think there is a fundamental difference between completely discretionary, pre-budgeted projects with only after-the-fact and much later oversight, and projects that have to go through the budgetary process up front. Of course earmarks are still pork. Of course, the process of allocating those earmarks will still be a game among thieves who won’t take long to figure out how to work the system – in fact it seems to me that the reform proposal is basically an expanded CIA system. Nevertheless, I still think it’s better than PDAF. But it is definitely not the endgame.
Another more important (especially if we are talking about endgame) reason why I am happy that Pnoy announced he’s abolishing the PDAF is because it shows this administration is susceptible to popular outrage. I say the following without judgement on whether Pnoy made this move out of a good faith change of heart or not: Friday’s announcement was obviously an attempt at accommodation in light of the acute pressure the administration has been receiving from its allies and enemies alike, respected leaders and public intellectuals, as well as multitudes of the unorganized and apolitical getting ready for the much-hyped Aug. 26 anti-pork rally. Generally the goal of accommodation is to diffuse challengers. If the challengers are smart, however, they will see attempts at accommodation/diffusion as a sign of the government’s vulnerability. It should, therefore, serve as inspiration to challengers that the people can force concessions. We made the government cave on PDAF. We can make them cave on more meaningful reforms. See you Monday morning.