01645: Tropical Storm Maring and Government Funds

Tropical Storm Maring (international name: Trami) has made the past 24 hours very gloomy and very, very wet. One can't help but feel like it hasn't stopped raining at all during this whole time. And it's not even strong rains or fierce winds that has been troubling the metropolis. It's just the fact that it hasn't stopped. And given the many problems with drainage (or the lack thereof) in Metro Manila, steady rain has proven to be more deadly than strong ones.

A few years ago Ondoy first taught us this lesson in a most violent manner. Constant rainfall over a 24-36 hour period sent the city underwater and affected thousands of families. There were hardly any winds just like the past day but the rains overwhelmed our already taxed drains and that was it.

A lot of people have recently taken to social media to point out that had the misappropriated PDAF funds been allotted to dealing with these sorts of problems instead of allegedly being abused by the Napoles family. Given this is part of an on-going investigation (without even formal charges yet), let's not talk about whether they're guilty or not. Let's focus on the reality of things.

If people are assuming that had the PDAF been used properly would have helped alleviate the flood problems that we face today, we'd be okay. If anything, pork barrel funds tend to be used for much smaller projects, particularly more provincial ones like farm-to-market roads, community centers, scholarships, medical missions and anything else that can be visibly attributed to the political figure who allotted the funds. That's patronage politics at its finest.

Had the pork barrel not existed at all, who is to say that anyone would invest in addressing the flooding problems of Metro Manila? National funds could have been used to help national roads like Buendia for ages, and yet no one has ever managed to fix the almost automatic flooding at the corner of SLEX that happens every time it rains. And that's still thinking small.

The bigger problem that Metro Manila faces is the result of many factors. The biggest, of course, is the lack of a true drainage system that can accommodate the needs of the city. But there's also the fact that the metropolis has far too many people - many of them from the outlying provinces in search of employment. The lack of jobs in the outlying provinces is another significant factor that causes more and more people to migrate to the metropolis and end up staying with friends and or relatives until they can get a job.

We can talk about the constant construction of condominiums and the lack of urban planning or whatever. There are just too many factors that we have to deal with given the nature of this problem. And I don't think any government official would think in that manner. Our politicians think only as far as the next elections and not in terms of the truly long term to resolve all the problems we face. This is not because of term limits - most legislators are not as limited as our positions for President and Vice-President. It's because of the systemic corruption that has been in our government for years on end.

It's both depressing and disgusting at the same time.