What are we in power for?

IN the Republic of Santa Banana, there’s a new president, replacing the unlamented Gloria En Excesses Deo. President Penoy Balut is said to be the most honest president Santa Banana has ever had. He is so honest, he recently signed a bill levying heavy taxes on cigarettes, to discourage the masses from smoking (which is bad for the health) – but he honestly admitted that he would continue to smoke.
“Honestly, I can’t stop smoking,” he is said to have admitted. “But then, I can afford it.”
Not so, the millions who must be satisfied with asking friends for “fifty nga” of their yosi, since they themselves can no longer afford the luxury of a self-paid smoke.
Another proof of Penoy’s honesty is how he honestly asked to be exempted from the gun ban instituted by the Consumisyon on Elections (Comelec), in anticipation of the usual gun battles that accompany the electoral process in Santa Banana. He could have simply quietly defied the ban – but no, he felt compelled to make an open and honest request for an exemption, which the Conelec gave, of course.
But, most of all, President Penoy has demonstrated his honesty by not helping himself – nor allowing his relatives to help themselves – to the enormous wealth-generating possibilities that public office in Santa Banana provides. For this, Penoy truly deserves the Lamp of Diogenes Award.
Diogenes (if I may explain to those who have only finished high school) is the Greek character who went around town in broad daylight carrying a lamp, searching in vain for an honest man. Apparently, in ancient Greece, honest men were a rare species – which is pretty much the situation in Santa Banana.
Another proof of the honesty of Penoy’s government is the fact that official expenditures of the various offices, especially those for infrastructure and public works, have been subjected to microscopic scrutiny. This has served to moderate the greed (a term coined during Gloria En Excesses Deo’s tenure) and made it more difficult for public officials to overprice, demand “gratitude money” or, otherwise, be corrupt.
Remarkably, the legislature of Santa Banana has been no less honest and above-board. In both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the honorable solons have strictly observed the law with respect to the disbursement and use of public funds.
In the Senate, every honorable member is allocated 200 million bananas, the official currency of the republic, for use in programs and projects designed to enhance the lives of the senators’ constituents. In the House, every congressman is allocated 70 million bananas.
It is interesting to note that these official allocations are derisively referred to as “pork barrel” by the antagonistic media. The reason is that, aside from the fruit, after which the country is named, Santa Banana’s economy is dependent on poultry and piggery. The poultry industry of Santa Banana has an interesting history: the men of Santa Banana are said to have a penchant for chicks.
But piggery is the more dominant industry, which is why pigs are the national animal and why the millions allocated to the solons is called the Piggery Development Assistance Fund or PDAF – “pork” for short.
The pigs of Santa Banana are famous for being big and fat, mainly because of a diet rich in bananas.  But what riles the media is the fact that millions and millions of bananas are being used to fill up the troughs of the country’s pigs.
This leaves the poor of Santa Banana (who make up the majority of the population) with very little. In fact, this explains why the country’s national hero, Harry Belafonte, popularized the song, “Oh yes, we have no bananas,” bewailing the plight of the country’s poor.
But, did I say that the members of the legislature are honest and honorable men? Indeed they are. You see, the distribution of millions and millions of bananas to each member of the Senate and the House is part of the law of the land. So everything is perfectly legal.
What’s also legal is the system of allocating millions of bananas to every committee of the Senate and the House. The disposition of these millions is left entirely to the discretion of the honorable senators and congressmen. Like the “pork,” these funds are also used to enhance the lives of the constituents of the honorable legislators. More millions are also allocated to the solons for travel expenses, including the traditional pilgrimage to Las Vegas for rest and recreation. If the money is not spent at all (assuming the solons do not travel), it is perfectly legal to pocket the funds for personal use.
The senate president and the speaker of the House are also famous for their generosity. Every year, they make sure that savings from the funds allocated to the various programs and projects of their respective kingdoms are set aside and distributed to the honorable solons, according to criteria set by the country’s patron saint, Santa Claus.
Senate President Henry Lee faithfully observes the lyrics of the song, Santa Claus is coming to town. Senators who are naughty are not given as many millions of bananas as those who are nice. This last Christmas, the senate president distributed 1.6 million bananas to each of the senators who were nice but only 250,000 bananas to those who were naughty.
The antagonistic media of Santa Banana raised a major furor over the distribution of these savings, pointing out that the bananas could have been given to the country’s poor. They called on President Penoy Balut to chastise the senate president and the senators who availed of the millions. But the president’s spokespersons quickly washed his hands of the issue, pointing out that the disposition of funds was well within the authority of the Senate, covered by requisite laws and rules and, therefore, perfectly legal.
Of course, not everyone agrees. One of the senators marked as “naughty” (and who, therefore, received only 250,000 bananas) has accused the senate president of plunder. She has demanded a thorough investigation by the Consumisyon on Audit, to determine exactly where the funds will be used. The COA, already anticipating the complaint, was ready with a statement clearing the senate president and the senators of any violation of law.
Senate President Henry Lee has also frontally addressed the criticism of media and the naughty senators. “Let’s call a spade, a spade,” he declared. “I have the authority to do with the bananas as I please. And if I want to fill the troughs of the pigs of Santa Banana, that is entirely my prerogative.”
And he’s absolutely right. The law of the land makes it perfectly legal for members of the legislature to enrich themselves and to fill the troughs of their personal piggeries with millions of bananas. This explains why everyone wants to become a senator in Santa Banana.
Members of the House, feeling alluded to by media, have also rationalized their fat bonuses by pointing out that this is a long revered tradition in Congress.
“It’s called Pagpi-Pigging,” they said. The term is derived from a combination of the word, “Piging,” which means “a celebration” and the word “Pig.”
In an official statement by the leaders of both houses of Congress, it has been clarified that the millions of bananas being allocated to each and every honorable solon are used for purposes that are noble, honest and above-board.
“They are used to enhance to the lives of our constituents,” they stressed.
In Santa Banana, the population is divided into constituents and the masses. Constituents are the immediate members of the solons’ families, friends, classmates, and loyal followers. All the rest are the masses. In taking care of their constituents, the honorable solons are simply observing a philosophy of a legendary senate president who made the honest, straightforward and perfectly candid statement:
“What are we in power for?”

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