MANILA, Philippines - While bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) have allegedly acquired billions of pesos from the pork barrel funds of lawmakers, the authentic ones rarely get a share of the pie.
A prominent development worker said on Wednesday, August 28, that the real NGOs face huge barriers in acquiring funding from a legislator's Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Pork barrel, known as PDAF in its present form, are discretionary funds of lawmakers.
Atty Claire Angeline Pauig Luczon of the Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) shared how documentary requirements which are part of the protocol prescribed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) prevented them from securing funds from a senator's PDAF.
"There was this senator that wanted to partner with us, because he wanted to have women who wanted legal services to have people (lawyers) they can go to," she narrated. "Pero dahil sa dami-dami pang requirements ng DSWD (But because there were a lot of DSWD requirements), we were not able to get that partnership."
"It will take us at least one or two years to fulfill those requirements, and the need was urgent at the time," she added.
Luczon refused to disclose the name of the senator. She, however, questioned how the bogus NGOs easily accessed lawmakers' PDAF given the protocol by DSWD. (READ: 'NGOs' abuse P751 M in social work PDAF)
"They didn't even have track records, and yet they were able to access millions and millions of funds for nothing," she lamented.
Lack of funding affects NGO workers
Struggling to fight various social ills, the NGO community felt discredited after reports that registered NGOs were allegedly receiving funds from legislators' PDAF for ghost projects.
"I wouldn't be able to quantify, pero masama lang yung loob namin (but we are hurt)," she said, adding that what they have made as their life's mission is unjustly gaining a bad reputation. (READ: COA report by the numbers: Dubious NGOs)
The lawyer-advocate shared how problems in funding have led to less-than-ideal conditions for the typical NGO worker.
"[We are] fighting for women's rights, but we cannot afford sometimes to respect our own rights," she said.
Luczon herself had to forego her maternity leave, giving birth on a Monday and going back to work 4 days after.
"Otherwise, if you don't work, we don't have income to pay for the bills, the rent, to pay ourselves with, and the time, the cases that we're handling," she explained. "We have paying clients, and the payment that they give is subsidizing the non-paying clients."
Suppressing her tears, Luczon added that it takes courage to work for an NGO full-time. This puts all the more weight on the disgrace caused by the pork barrel scam.
"Alternative lifestyle talaga, and yet yung mga NGO na yun ang dami-dami nilang pera. Nagpapakasasa sila, [while] the people who are really working in the grassroots, they have nothing," said Luczon.
(It really is an alternative lifestyle, and yet the bogus NGOs have so much money at their disposal. They live in abundance, [while] the people who are really working in the grassroots, they have nothing.) – Rappler.com