Abad should be indicted for stonewalling COA probe

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It doesn’t really matter if pork-barrel scam queen Janet Napoles was telling the truth or not when she said that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, when he was congressman, taught her how to use non-governmental organizations to steal from legislators’ pork barrel funds.

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Abad’s crime is that he stonewalled the Commission on Audit’s (COA) three-year special audit of the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, the pork barrel money. For that, President Aquino must fire him, and the Ombudsman must indict him for obstruction of justice.

Abad refused to give COA investigators the data they asked for, which raises suspicions that he gave information mainly about opposition legislators especially the three senators now facing arrest and incarceration.

This is not my allegation but was contained in the COA report itself, which, in fact, was formally submitted to Abad himself in August 2013 by the audit team’s head Susan Garcia. The report’s page 5 states:

“The DBM could not provide the team, despite repeated requests, with the complete schedule of releases per legislator from PDAF for soft projects . . . ”

According to the COA team, the DBM released a total of P116 billion from 2007 to 2009 in pork barrel funds, both in the form of soft projects and hard (infrastructure).
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Abad, however, provided documents on legislators’ disbursement of funds amounting to only P45 billion. He refused to provide documents on funds amounting to P70.4 billion, or 61 percent of the total, so that the COA had to label these in their report as going to “unidentified solons” which they were unable to audit.

In short, Abad hid and buried the data which would have showed how P70.4 billion in PDAF funds were used and by whom.

In the case of senators, Abad provided data on 79 to 100 percent of the pork barrel funds of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon Revilla.

In contrast, NO documents at all were provided in the case of senators Francis Escudero and Jamby Madrigal, who in fact were not mentioned in the entire COA report, as if they were not members of that 14th Congress. Apparently, in an amateurish hope that no one would notice why these two senators weren’t included, Abad provided documents on the pork barrel of Juan Flavier and Ramon Magsaysay, Jr.—both of whom were no longer in the Senate from 2007 to 2009.

Abad provided documents on only 15 to 30 percent of the pork barrel of Senators Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda and Ralph Recto and about half of the funds of Alan Cayetano, Rodolfo Biazon, and Francis Pangilinan.

But then alleged whistle-blowers Benhur Luy, his associates, as well as Ruby Tuason —who became state witness for returning P40 million—testified against the three senators, didn’t they?

Yes, but all that testimony, in the cold courts and not in the heat of television, would all boil down to a “he-said, she-said” situation.

How could the testimony of people who admitted to crimes overturn the word of senators? In former President Estrada’s case, Chavit Singson and Atong Ang testified that they handed over cold cash to Estrada. But banks cooperated to open Estrada’s accounts where the dirty money was found—bolstering the two’s accusations.

But this time, I would think the three have already emptied their bank accounts. They’ll argue: “If we stole from the pork-barrel where is it? Maybe, it’s a figment of these low-lifes’ imagination.”

However, Abad and Aquino apparently planned for the COA report to provide the documentary evidence to support the whistle-blowers’ testimonies. Clever indeed.

It is COA’s de facto accusation that Abad stonewalled its audit of PDAF that raises a huge cloud of doubt whether Aquino’s prosecution of the three senators is his campaign against corruption through pork barrel funds. Or is it just a vindictive, selective attack on the opposition?

Maybe it is a kind of poetic justice for hypocrites who sold their souls to help Aquino savage the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Renato Corona. But Aquino and Abad have also used it to demolish the opposition, in their game plan to perpetuate their rule after Aquino steps down in 2016.
 
Abad, King of Reforms
Rather than debunking a popular demand for Abad to resign, his friends have resorted to mostly “but-I-have-known-him-as-honorable” arguments.

A columnist I respect wrote in her piece last week wrote: “Abad is doing a good job as budget secretary—as he did in his short stint as agrarian reform secretary under Cory Aquino, and as education secretary under Gloria Arroyo. We need more like him.”

I nearly fell off my seat hearing that from my former economics professor. President Corazon Aquino pushed Abad in December 1989 to the agrarian reform department when she fired secretary Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

The feisty lady would later claim that she was sacked for raising serious questions regarding Hacienda Luisita’s agrarian reform program, which the Supreme Court finally ruled a sham last year. Abad would serve as secretary for four months leaving April 15, 1990, after he had put in the finishing touches for the Hacienda Luisita’s fake land reform that made its farmers into sham stockholders. A “good job”? For whom? The Cojuangcos, obviously.

After that, the supposed champion of reforms spent his next nine years continuously as sole congressman for Batanes (population, 16,000 plus), which would be his family’s fiefdom complete with a mansion on top of the small island. Just like any run-of-the-mill politician his wife of course took over his post, since a consecutive fourth term is prohibited by law.

He and then his wife, of course, would collect their pork barrel—the same amount as for other bigger provinces. They should have just distributed it to the 4,000 families of Batanes there to make it an instant middle-class neighborhood.

In his nine years as congressman, this champion of Philippine reforms authored 10 laws he couldn’t boast as earth-shaking – which includes the making of August 21 as a national holiday, known as Ninoy Aquino Day.

He became education secretary July 2004, when I was Presidential Chief of Staff. He couldn’t even handle a squabble between the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Education Department over teachers’ GSIS benefits, and the Palace had to be the referee.

My office also then was starting a probe into what was and still is among the biggest money-making ventures in government– providing usurious loans to public school teachers. The syndicate was helped by corrupt DepEd officials who collected for the criminals the teachers’ loan payments through the payroll. In effect, the lending was virtually risk-free (the usurious practice still exists). I don’t remember Abad talking of reforming that system or, for that matter, any reforms in the department.

It was his undersecretary Juan Luz who seemed to be running the department, and Abad was always on some “important meeting.” We would learn later what those important meetings were: planning and implementing the Hyatt 10 conspiracy, a stupid revolt via “press conferences.”

What about the claim that he was a good budget secretary under Aquino? Absolutely not. He squeezed the budget so much that it starved the economy and infrastructure development in Aquino’s first year in office. He didn’t program properly the funding of capital projects such that they are now playing “catch-up” in the last two years of their administration.

The most ass-licking defense of Abad was written for an online-only news site by Filomeno Sta. Ana, who’s been in Abad’s NGO crowd most of his working life. He unabashedly wrote: “Abad would make a great president. But he, vilified as the king of pork, is really a king of reforms.” What reforms?

Sta. Ana says Abad was responsible for the hard measures sin tax and reproductive health. I’m sure the finance secretary would have a mouthful to say about the sin tax. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, slapped down the RH bill nearly unanimously.

I’m sure though that it was Abad who made this one drastic change in government that he thought was a monumental reform. This was his baby, the “Disbursement Acceleration Program,” which juggled the budget so that bigger bribes can be given to senators (including Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla). Realigning this money through the DAP is patently illegal. But Abad and Aquino needed the money to pay off the senators so that they would go along with their pet project of removing the Chief Justice. King of Pork, indeed.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
www.rigobertotiglao.com FB: Rigoberto D. Tiglao

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15 Comments

  1. Abad, claims that he has scoured all the special allotment release orders, and now says that no such SARO number as stated by Napoles, exists. But of course, Abad is the DBM and he can claim this to be so. In other words, what they do by way of having departments and agencies clear them is self-serving. They are in power and allied with the administration, and no department or agency is going to go against an ally of Noynoy.
    Still, it is strange that Abad all too suddenly can scour the SARO records as far back as 2000 and earlier, yet he failed to submit to Commission on Audit Chief Grace Pulido-Tan the complete SAROs of the allies of Noynoy in the Senate and could only produce all the SAROs assigned to the three opposition senators. What a miraculous recovery of such old SAROs at the DBM for the three senators, but no such miraculous recovery of the SAROs of Noynoy and Mar Roxas, not to mention the SAROs of the allies of Noynoy.
    So are Abad’s SARO records intact or not? And why, of all things, were the years covered in the audit only from 2007 to 2009? That too, was especially designed to target only the three senators.
    Perhaps what Noynoy and his biggies in the LP should ask is why they treated Napoles as a VIP in her claimed voluntary surrender if she is now being called a liar and a plunderer.

  2. Joel Anthony on

    Dahil gigil si PNoy sa tatlong senador, di nya pinagtutuunan yung iba. Pero sana naman maging patas at ipa-imbestigahan na sina ABAD, DRILON, ALCALA and the 150 more THIEVES, instead of DEFENDING THEM.

  3. westphilippines on

    Can any of the good lawyers prepare a complaint letter stating all those allegations and let the public sign collectively? Unless there is a formal complaint lodged against them, we may not see any concrete action to happen. We as ordinary citizen should initiate filing the appropriate charges to the Ombudsman. Wala ba tayong mga kababayan kahit di pa tapos ng abugasya ang mag-draft ng complaint? Ang kasabihan natin “nakikita natin ang butas ng karayom ngunit butas ng palakol ay hindi” ay naging pang-araw araw na gawi sa buhay natin.

  4. We need fiscalizers like this column, lest the country will go to the dogs if these anomalies continue. The citizens need more writers as analytical and objective as you are. I still have to hear any denial of your assertions. Right on, Mr. Tiglao.

  5. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

    Reporters in the likes of Mr. Rigoberto Tiglao of Manila Times and Mr. Jojo Robles and
    Francisco Tatad of Manila Standards are what the country need. They report
    the news objectively, truthfully and fairly. I salute them for their objectivity and fairness.
    Unlike the newspaper that is identified as friendly to the palace tenant, there is
    nothing that we can get from these yellow’s. 11 Abad’s in government? The
    Malacanang mouthpieces says its not nepotism. If that is their interpretation of
    law, then better repeal the law on nepotism. Mayado naman garapal itong abnoy na
    ito.

  6. If it is true that these 70.4% of documents wernt handed over to the coa then why doesnt every single member of the press write about this. Why doesnt every single news cast report this. Are they all collaborating with these corrupt officials. Why isnt the governments spokesperson bombarded with questions about this, why doesnt the coa keep speaking to the press & bring it out into the open. Are they all in on this scam. Then if found to be true abad should be instantly jailed as he is protecting people for stealing from this country. It needs deep investigations. One thing i would say to you yousay they have probably moved their money now, well that doesnt matter as when moving money from a bank it leaves a paper trail thats quite easy to follow so if these politicians are corrupt & have stolen that money once they have banked it then it leaves a paper tril, as corona found out, banking money means money can be traced, get rid of this corrupt bank secrecy law to make it easier to catch people hiding stolen money. Its only there to protect them.

    • John Carousel on

      That tells us that there are some very wrong pictures in these crimes and most people responsible will never be tried for the crime. They will get away free laughing and the poor suffers even more.

      We need modern day WaterGate investigative reporters like Mr. Tiglao

  7. John Carousel on

    If there’s anyone left in the Philippine Gov’t who cares for the Filipinos’ rights or who can still spell DEMOCRACY, please read this article of Mr. Tiglao and do something about this. It is a clean and solid proof that someone has done something very wrong
    to the Filipinos.

    Oh well! I guess I’m just another Juan De La Cruz that should be ignored.

  8. John Carousel on

    I knew something was very wrong with that article of filomeno sta Ana. Nice shot…..
    Ass licking defense. Wow ! Thank you Mr. Tiglao for this article.

    What will you say to that filomeno???

  9. nelson z. valles on

    Mr. Tiglao salamat sa mga articles na katulad nito.Ano kaya ang dapat gawin ng taong bayan dahil mukhang protektado itong si Ah_Bad ni Pnoy. Wag na lang sigurong daanin sa korte. Pasabugin na lang lahat ng mga ito kasama ng buong kongreso at senado at malacanang.

  10. Thank you Mr. Tiglao for writing about the article of Mrs. Solita Monsod, columnist of PDI. I also read that article a few days ago and could not understand why she was praising Abad almost to high heavens. Just recalled that Abad is also a hand-made of Cory Aquino like Binay, Drillon and the others. Fortunately you detailed what Abad “accomplished” during his many positions in government while Mrs. Monsod was only writing motherhood statements. Forgot that she, as well, and her husband too, are both Aquino confirmed beneficiary.