Okay, remember the 19 billion pesos worth of intel funds that several government officials are wasting?
Truth be told, a good part of that money might have been used to enhance our surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities for real (for instance, they may not like advertising it, but the Navy and the Coast Guard has some capacity to track many of the ships through its watch centers across the country…thanks to a good deal of help from the US). Or maybe not.
However, given the propensity of some of its officials to engage in useless rhetoric and polarizing speeches instead of actually doing their job as the stewards of our national stability, I think it is high time for us to see how their budget could have been used to solve some of our country’s problems.
If someone spent it towards improving the Navy or the white-hulled services (Coast Guard and Bureau of Aquatic Resources – yes, the latter has two OPVs and ten patrol boats of their own), here is what they could buy with the money:
One hundred 50-meter MMOVs ala BFAR style (apparently, they were priced at 180 million apiece; give 10 million pesos for light weapons/installation of weapons from existing Navy stocks)
Four mission-capable OPVs of the Gabriela Silang class for 5 billion pesos each, along with (the French could finance the overruns)
Just add 5 billion pesos (pag gusto, may paraan) and have two brand-new Rizal-class frigates for 12 billion apiece – let the Koreans do the rest of the math. Does anyone of us realize that almost all of the major ships of the Navy as well as huge flotillas of the BFAR and Coast Guard are already there – and yet we are outnumbered tenfold by the Chinese?
Okay, maybe most of us aren’t comfortable giving this kind of money to the military. Let’s give it to our scientists, artists, and all the other talents that our country has then!
Assuming a total of 950,000 pesos per grant in a year (50,000 stipend per month for a total of 600,000; 200,000 education allowance, 100,000 travel and conference allowance, and 50,000 book allowance), we could give 500 grants in a year and have that program running for 40 years or give 1000 grants and have that program go for 20 years – either way, we might just see the arts and the sciences flourish here in the Philippines – or maybe we will see less sportsmen leaving our country for better pastures (simple math lang ito, the amount of the grants may be higher of course).
Don’t we all want to have maximum amount of Pinoy Pride and propagate our culture worldwide through our books, art, and creative pursuits? Don’t we want scientists to do more for our country? Don’t we want more sports honors for our Inang Bayan? Keeping, nurturing, and enhancing that kind of talent isn’t cheap.
Maybe we really want that money to go to those who deserve it or to somewhere that will have more impact. In this case: 19 billion pesos can fund actual stimulus checks (in cash) for 19 million people out there. That is basically another round of ayuda for a good chunk of people. Alternatively, it could fund 1,000 community pantries out there for 1,900 days at 10,000 per day expense (we are talking about more than five 5 years of effortless social welfare all over the Philippines – just give the money, arrange the queues and let the people spend it in the most creative way possible – you can see how Filipino resourcefulness works!)
Or if you really want to avoid Marx’s “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” motto, then we can put that 19 billion pesos towards building classrooms (at 1.25 million pesos per classroom, that’s 15,200 state-of-the-art classrooms that could comfortably accomodate more than 600,000 students).
Maybe we should solve COVID-19 then, even though some of us are “vaccine haters” and “COVID deniers”: One can get 19 million doses of Pfizer at 20 dollars a dose with that money. That’s 9.5 million Filipinos getting almost assured protection against the horrors of the coronavirus).
Still, if we really want to be corrupt and makasarili, we can get 10 percent of those funds and just spend 90 percent to do any of the programs above. Yumaman ka na nga, nakatulong ka pa sa bansa!
Seriously though, it just shows the amount of money that we are wasting in this country – and how could this money be used to actually solve the country’s biggest problems.