The pork barrel scandal, that has wracked the country, outraged the public and made international news, may erode the newly-restored confidence in the stability of the country’s economy and may reverse the strong performance that Philippines has been showing in recent months.
Excerpts from the editorial follow:
“Now, a scandal will test the (Philippine) President’s resolve and the faith of investors. … More broadly the case highlights why the Philippines struggles to eliminate corruption.”
“Manila,” the editorial notes, remains stuck in the mindset that government action, rather than private investment, is the main driver of development.”
Local media agrees.
In its own editorial, the Philippine Star noted that the scandal eclipsed the recent positive news that the country’s GDP growth in the second quarter of 2013 was 7.5 per cent, making the economy the fastest growing in Southeast Asia.
Business confidence, the editorial observed, has been fueled by the anti-corruption campaign of the Aquino government. However, this self same campaign has been shaken by “recent corruption scandals such as those on the pork barrel and the Metro Rail Transit 3, particularly because officials or political allies of the administration have been implicated.”
Restoring public trust, the piece concluded, is necessary if the government “wants to sustain economic growth and make its benefits trickle down to the masses.”
Philippine Star columnist and political observer Boo Chanco has a similar take: “Unless handled a lot more skillfully, there is also the danger that P-Noy will lose the only real selling point he still enjoys with potential investors: honest governance. Pork is all about corruption. Unless he does something about the P10 billion pork funds lost to scammers, P-Noy’s Daang Matuwid is a hard sell.”
Meanwhile, hog raisers lament the unfortunate association of their industry with the pork barrel scandal, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.
National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc. (NFHFI) said in a phone interview that their reputation as well as the sales of their products had been hurt because of the negative association which “has absolutely nothing to do with the swine industry.”
“Our livelihood depends on pigs. Our families eat and our children go to school because of decent jobs provided by hog raising,” Javellana added.
In the Aug. 26 Million People March at Manila’s Rizal Park, several restaurants and food vendors refused to sell pork in protest against those who profited from the misuse of the priority development assistance fund.
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