Abad, bad boy

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Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad has been a bad, bad boy. At least according to alleged PDAF scam ringleader Janet Napoles who recently fingered the ex-Batanes legislator as the real brains behind the anomalous scheme.

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There’s a growing clamor from many thinking Filipinos that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Commission on Audit (COA) Grace Pulido Tan ought to investigate Napoles’ revelation against Abad instead of the ever-expanding list of senators, representatives and government officials implicated in the pork barrel racket.

After all, everyone familiar with the workings of the bureaucracy knows that no government funds can be released to the implementing agencies without the indispensable imprimatur of the DBM chief.

Even House Speaker Sonny Belmonte seems to agree. He pointed out in previous media statements that reference to PDAF should be linked with the issuance of a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO). He said that without a SARO from the DBM, there would be no PDAF. We agree.

In her expanded affidavit, Napoles revealed that it was Abad who, as then Batanes congressman, influenced her in engaging in the PDAF scam after she met him through Manuel Jarmin, acting director of the Livestock Development Council, an agency under the Department of Agriculture in 2000.

Napoles revealed that Abad taught her how to use non-government organizations (NGOs) to profit from government projects. “I learned from Cong. Butch Abad that NGOs or cooperatives are needed to do business with government agencies,” Napoles said.

As expected, Abad vehemently denied “tutoring” Napoles or any of her associates-turned-whistleblowers.

“I have never dealt with Janet Lim Napoles in any manner, much less through an agent or a middleman. And while I may be acquainted with Mr. Jarmin, I have never transacted with him in any capacity. Ms. Napoles’ claims about me—that I tapped Mr. Jarmin as my ‘agent,’ and that I taught her how to profit illegally from the bureaucracy—are absolutely not true,” Abad declared in media statement.

What is a bit curious, however, is that except for his blanket denials about knowing, mentoring or transacting with Napoles, Abad has not denied Napoles’ accusation that government funds were still being illegally diverted to bogus NGOs or ghost projects during his watch.

Neither has Abad made any categorical statement that the so-called “budget reforms measures” he introduced in the DBM—at least according to the Palace’s chief apologist, Edwin Lacierda—has completely stopped anomalous schemes (such as that detailed by Napoles) from happening during the Aquino administration.

Truth is, however hard Abad tries to wash his hands of any complicity in the PDAF racket, he will have a hard time convincing people of his inculpability especially after his prowess at juggling government money was exposed during a previous fund-diversion controversy.

Our readers will recall that in a privilege speech last September, Senator Jinggoy Estrada revealed that P50 million in additional funds were released to senators who voted in favor of the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.

It was Abad himself who admitted that the questionable funds given to senators came from a newly minted program called the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which is funded by government savings.

Abad explained that the additional discretionary fund given to lawmakers was not hard cash but recommendations for projects where the funds would be allocated, which, to our mind, is basically the same scheme used for the legislators’ PDAF. Perhaps this explains why the DAP funds also ended up in one of Napoles’ bogus NGOs.

Although Abad insists that the DAP funds were not given to senators as a pay-off or bribe for convicting Corona, he never fully explained how and why government money that was supposedly meant only for projects within the executive branch ended up in the hands of legislators. This despite the constitutional prohibition against realigning savings from one branch of government to supplement the funds of another branch, or what Supreme Court Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin called “cross-border” fund augmentation.

For the past several months, several lawmakers like Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco and ABAKADA partylist representative Jonathan de la Cruz have been asking Abad for the list of all the DAP spending as well as the corresponding SAROs issued by DBM. But to this day, Abad has yet to turn over any document to them.

Meanwhile, PNoy refuses to have Abad investigated at all. In fact, he has practically acquitted Abad of any wrongdoing, arguing that the latter had even initiated budget reforms for greater transparency.

Perhaps that’s the reason why many ordinary Filipinos are now asking: Is Abad trying to hide something? Or is he trying to cover up for someone, a bigger fish maybe?

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13 Comments

  1. Jose Santos on

    Truth Commission?Sinong iaapoint duon eh puro Crooks nga ang mga nasa gobyerno natin….You must be jokin!!!

  2. Several weeks or was it months ago, I read an article somewhere that in the notes or was it instructions of Napoles, Florencio Abads’s share of his PDAF/DAP is to be by DD (direct deposit) to a dollar account in Singapore. Cannot recall which broadsheet it was but the meat of that article disappeared like thin air.

  3. Pnoy will not allow Abad to be crucified since he knows Abad that he is like a chameleon or balimbing, when worst come to worst he will do his very best no to be put in jail. He is always a traitor to his master look what he had done to GMA, Pnoy knew this attitude of Abad so he will keep on protecting him until his last breath.

    • it is only a matter of days and aBAD will be made sacrificial lamb by his emperor named PeNOY. they tried Vitangcol but it did not create any stir.

  4. The problem with having a truth commission is everyone who comes out & tells the truth is granted immunity from prosecution. So thats great yes we will own up to all we have done but only if you let us off with it. No truth commission as its easy to investigate if you do it right then jail these scum for life & that means they die in jail & thats how they get out, no exceptions & that means none whatsoever for any reason. Abad is as guilty as the rest of them if not more, he doesnt care about you or me he cares about himself.

    • Angel Pulido on

      I agree with you. All respondents found guilty in this scam should be jailed in compliance with the theory of punishment as provided by law. Be patient my friend, the fang of the law is coming to bite them.

  5. Resty reyes on

    Identifying Abad is a warning by Napoles that if her requests were not granted, a much bigger fish would soon be included in the scam, as she could show some docs connecting the big fish to Abad. What a clever strategy of Napoles and her lawyer.

  6. Alejo Rosete on

    The President is not foolish to have Secretary Abad investigated. If Abad is pushed against a blank wall and no way out – surely, he will turn around 180 degrees and spill all the beans. If this happens, do you think the President and/or Senator Drilon can escape and/or run away that they are part and parcel of the whole scheme?

    Think!

  7. I agree with Senator Trillanes, a truth commission has to be convinced to sort out these PDAF scandals. The gravity of these scandals are just too pervasive for the DOJ and the Ombudsman to handle. However, I am very pessimistic that this will happen. I believed the administration of President Aquino will never allow this to happen for fear that it will bring some embarrassing revelations to his administration.

    I don’t have any doubt that some people close to the President were at one point in time perpetuators of these PDAF scandals. It is a shame that scandals of this magnitude have to happened. Those billions of pesos could have been used to help millions of poor Filipinos make their lives much better.

    • A truth commission is not the answer simply because its composition could not be guaranteed to be fairly chosen. Who will determine who would be in the commission? Noynoy would not allow that he would not have a hand in populating it. And if indeed, he could have a voice, his impartiality would be in doubt all over again. Just let justice run its course without intervention from anyone, more so Malacanang.

    • Truth commission, my foot. How can a truth commission be organized having PNoy is in charge. He will just bribe the members of the commission to conclude that he is innocent, that is all. Being a pro-PNoy Trillanes should not have thought about any truth commission but since information is already out that he has ambition to run for a higher post, it is expected that Trillanes start showing his face everywhere and anywhere. The only post open that is higher than a Senatong is as Vice President and President. Maybe the man wants to be President.

  8. The bigger fish in this grand thievery is the Abnoy himself. He was the one who stopped the slow moving projects funded by the PDAF, reclassified the funds as forced savings and then tasked Abad to lump up those funds and make them available for his use. It cannot be any plainer than this.