NOTES FROM THE EDITOR - Singkit (The Philippine Star) - April 14, 2019 - 12:00am

It’s not a new game or a new take on peek-a-boo. This term my colleague coined after almost half a ton of shabu packaged as tea (tsa-a) was seized in two operations in a house in posh Ayala Alabang village and at the Port of Manila recently. Unfortunately, the packages used to disguise the shabu looked very much like the tea I buy in my favorite grocery in Binondo which, coincidentally – or maybe not so coincidentally – was unavailable the past couple of weeks. The joke around the office, of course, was that “na-tokhang yung supplier mo (your supplier was busted)!”

And then there are those bricks of cocaine that keep bobbing up around our eastern coastlines. Since cocaine does not seem to be the Pinoy addicts’ drug of choice (who was it who said cocaine is the rich man’s drug, the choice of the party set, while shabu is the poor man’s poison?), authorities reported that all that cocaine was really destined for Australia, and the Philippines was just a transshipment point. That’s bad news all around; do international drug syndicates see us as so “welcoming” for their business?

While we’re at it, can someone please check whether all those drugs – shabu, cocaine, pills, even marijuana – seized in publicized raids are accounted for and securely kept? Just one of those packages of tsa-a-bu can make someone pretty rich.

* * *

So the 2019 national budget – P3.757 trillion – is finally going to be signed tomorrow. At least, as I write this, invitations have reportedly been sent out to Senate and House leaders to attend the signing ceremony tomorrow at the Palace.

Senators and congressmen have been squabbling, not over the merits of the budget, but over their takes, their shares of what is not supposed to be called pork. They have accused each other of hiding or parking their pork in various departments, the favorite being public works and highways, and transferring or re-aligning funds from districts whose representatives are no longer favored to districts that are now the flavor of the month under the new House dispensation.

It all sounds like quarrelling among thieves, fighting over division of the loot. And to think that, aside from what is not supposed to be called their pork, we poor taxpayers are going to spend P20.3 billion for all their salaries, allowances, travels (aside from their junkets paid for by “sponsors”), representation (parties and lunches and dinners), hiring of consultants… What an absolute waste of money!

Take out your calculator and figure out how many families that amount could feed if we get rid of those clowns in Congress. A family of five would need over P10,000 a month to survive, about P8,000 of that for food alone, according to government statisticians. Wouldn’t it be better use of our taxes if we spend the money to provide services to the people instead of funding Congress?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.      Isaiah 40:21-23

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