We needed a bridge for a local barangay. So, we approached the congressman. This is how the conversation went.
"Sorry Padre. I cannot give you your request on that bridge that you need. Our CDF has shrunk to PHP 40 Million. That's not as good as the good old days." Mr. Congressman (Mr. C) said.
I nodded, feigning understanding of what he meant, but giving him the look as if to ask, how do you plan to run in the next elections then?
Mr. C added, "Although, out of the PHP 40 Million, they said PHP 20 Million is for "soft" projects and the other PHP 20 Million for "hard" projects. The local executives are far better than the congressmen these days. They have better funding than congressmen."
I asked, "What do you mean soft and hard?"
Mr C. said, "Hard means actual projects that could be gauged. Soft means funding support for NGO's, foundations and the like. Yung soft pwede mong pitikin kahit kalahati. Sabihin na nating S. O. P. is 50 percent. So out of the PHP 20 Million for soft projects I can get PHP 10 Million. It's still low but not bad.
I gave him the dumb look I give to talkative witnesses on cross-examination. "Pitikin? Fifty percent S.O.P. ?" I didn't know crooks knew poetry.
He continued, " But considering all the people who come to me for money, that PHP 10 Million could be easily spent. Just the other day, the barangay captain of B______ came to me asking for PHP 15 thousand pesos for travelling expenses of his daugther who is supposed to attend a seminar somehere. How do you think I could get out of that extortion try? I told him I'd shoulder half if he shouldered the other half. That bastard, for all I know, he needed only PHP 7,500, and was just trying to make money on me.
I nodded yes, what did the old proverb say "Galit ang magnanakaw sa..?" So much for the bridge.