• Aquino defies SC, renames pork

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    First of three parts

    President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd has defied the Supreme Court’s ruling that the pork barrel system is unconstitutional and has maintained the system in the 2014 budget, as well as in the 2015 proposed appropriations law.

    pnoy-pbNo wonder the House of Representatives continues to be Aquino’s bootlicking servants.

    He has merely renamed it, and to go around one aspect of the Court’s ruling, he has itemized most, but not all, of the projects that congressmen want, from which they could easily siphon off taxpayers’ money.

    The “old style” mechanism for pork barrel allocated the amounts for projects to be identified by each district representative after the budget law’s enactment.

    In Aquino’s new version of the pork barrel, each project (named and In Aquino’s new version of the pork barrel, each project (named and unnamed) is officially allocated and listed in an annex to the budget law, all 500 pages of them.

    table
    Funding for the “projects” is pre-determined and settled through backroom and secret consultations between the budget department and the co-opted legislators.
    A glimpse of this secretive process was exposed by party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, who released a tape by Department of Health undersecretary Janette Garin’s statement explaining how congressmen will designate people they want to receive subsidy from the department’s hospitals for their treatments. In another case: Commission on Higher Education chairman Patricia Licuanan told legislators that her agency had reserved P14 million in scholarships for students to be designated by congressmen.

    Whether congressmen designate the projects before or after the budget becomes law hardly matters in practice. First, legislators will still be able to extract kickbacks from private contractors undertaking the projects. Second, Aquino and his budget secretary will still be able to realign the funds for each district.  And third, they can withhold the release of the funds for some flimsy reason if a congressman goes against Aquino, which would be crucial for an impeachment vote against him.

    The pork barrel fund was officially named Countrywide Development Fund during Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos’ terms; “Lingap para sa Mahihirap Program Fund” under Joseph Estrada; and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) under the Gloria Arroyo and Aquino administrations. On November 2013, the Supreme Court declared the PDAF as unconstitutional.

    Now, to hide the pork barrel fund from the Supreme Court and the nation, Aquino gave it an innocuous name in his 2015 budget proposal – the “Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Projects.” For the 2014 budget, he had termed it “Bottom-Up Budgeting,” until one adviser pointed out that it sounds like “bottoms-up” which connotes a celebration – by them and the congressmen over the continuance of their pork barrel.

    The Supreme Court last year clearly ordered an end to what it eloquently termed as an “error, which has persisted in the chronicles of our history.” But Aquino, in an act of insolence, even increased the pork barrel money for congressmen from the P15.7 billion in 2011 and 2012, to P20.1 billion in 2014, and P20.9 in 2015.

    Nefarious schemes
    It has been this administration’s style to hide its nefarious schemes under noble names (the better to fool the yellow believers who are not known for their facility for critical thinking).

    For instance, it created the “Disbursement Acceleration Program” (DAP) supposedly for poverty reduction but it was really a hijacking of Congress-approved budget items to raise funds to bribe senators to oust a Chief Justice and to boost the Liberal Party’s election kitty. Another was its proposed “Truth Commission,” which was actually just a kangaroo court to attack the previous administration. Both were shot down by the High Court.

    In a bid to go around the Supreme Court ruling, Aquino asked congressmen to give his Administration a list of projects they want in their localities to be placed under “Grassroots Participatory Budgeting,” subtitled the “Priority Poverty Reduction Projects.” It’s just pork, plain and simple.

    Aquino and his pork barrel mastermind, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, are taking the voters for fools who would readily believe that these local projects were recommended by the “masses.”

    “Grassroots Participatory Budgeting” (GPB) projects in Aquino’s 2015 budget proposal allocates P75 million to the tiny province of Batanes (official population: 17,000), where Abad’s wife Henedina is congresswoman. This, despite the widespread outrage over the DAP’s fiasco and the public calls for Abad’s resignation, including by allies who fear Abad has ruined forever the reputation of Aquino.

    In what reflects his total lack of delicadeza, Abad even increased his wife’s pork barrel to P75 million from the P58 million annual average she got from 2011-2013. The P75 million was distributed equally at P12.5 million to each of Batanes’ six towns.

    Rather than having such projects as a “birthing facility,” “goat production,” and another round of “capacity-building” seminars, it might have made more sense for Mrs. Abad to just distribute directly that P75 million to the island’s regular residents, who are said to total only 10,000, as many of Batanes’ people – such as Abad and his family – spend most of their time in Manila.

    That would mean that full-time Batanes residents would get P7,500 each, which they could use to start a savings account or a small business. But that would mean no opportunity for anyone there to skim off the island’s pork barrel funds.

    With the hundreds of millions of pesos of government funds Abad has channeled to his Lilliputian province, it is even running out of projects to be funded by the 2015 pork barrel fund. For instance, P5.5 million was allocated to its Mahatao town for a “project to be determined (sic).”

    Batanes delinquents
    Would you believe that this quiet, small island would get pork barrel funds amounting to P2.5 million to build a “bahay pag-asa for CICL?” What’s CICL? Children-in-conflict-with-the-law.  For a tiny place with only 10,000 residents to have a lot of juvenile delinquents needing a haven, Batanes must be the country’s Babylon.

    The “GPB” is merely Aquino’s new name for his old-style pork barrel through which he secures congressmen’s loyalty and rewards his vassals. Examples:

    Corona impeachment prosecutor and justice committee member Rodolfo Farinas’ 1st district of Ilocos Norte, with a population of 190,000, was allocated P137.5 million from Aquino’s GPB, three times the average annual in PDAF funds he got from 2011 to 2013.

    Oriental Mindoro’s 2nd district with a population of 364,000 – 21 times Batanes’ 17,000 population  —is allocated the same pork barrel amount, P95 million, as what Abad’s fiefdom got. Who is Oriental Mindoro 2nd district congressman? Reynaldo Umali, who claimed in the impeachment trial that he was given a confidential document showing Corona’s bank account by a “small lady blogger.”

    Umali, of course, isn’t complaining: his P95 million pork barrel for 2015 is nearly double the P48 million annually he got from 2011 to 2013.

    On the other hand, the GPB allocation for the 5th District of Iloilo would total P143 million, nearly three times the average P53 million in pork barrel funds it had received from 2011 to 2013 through its congressman, Niel Tupas, the President’s prime triggerman in the taking out of Chief Justice Corona.

    Now I know why my old colleague in media Ben Evardone changed jobs, and why he is so much a sycophant for Aquino: Eastern Samar, of which he is the lone representative, will be getting a whopping P272 million under the 2015 budget, five times the P57 million annual average of what he got from 2011-2013.

    How did Aquino and Abad determine these amounts for each congressional district? Were these the result of consultations with the masses in each area, the sum of the “poverty alleviation” projects they proposed to be funded?

    Certainly not, and it is amazing how Aquino’s right-hand man Mar Roxas would try to fool the nation when he said in the first and last assembly of the fake civil-society group Koalisyon ng mga Mamamayan para sa Reporma, referring to the “GPB”: “Where can you find a government whose budget was arrived at by consulting with the masses?”

    Aquino’s new pork barrel is intended to dodge the Supreme Court’s declaration that the budget can’t have “lump-sum” items, with its details to be determined by legislators after the appropriations’ bills enactment. So now they’re listing the projects for each of the cities and towns, and if you think this is a good thing you are missing the point.

    Simple solution
    It turns out that Abad had a simple solution to what would have been a very tedious work of listing all of the projects. He allocated P12.5 million for each municipality and city.  He then asked the congressmen of each locality to submit the list of projects to be funded out of that P12.5 million, although many were unable to do so completely that the GPB as submitted contained many items “to be determined” or the general “various projects.”

    It’s the same genre as the pork-barrel projects funded since 2011, one example being the fact that there a thousand projects for “capacity building” and the usual “livelihood projects.”

    There were some exceptions to the general rule of  P12.5 million per municipality or city allocation.  Quezon City, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte speaker’s bailiwick, got P25 million, double the P12.5 million the other cities in Metro Manila got. There were also a number of towns that were allocated P18.5 million.

    Calculate it: the P12.5 million allocated by Aquino’s pork barrel for each of the 132 cities and 1,458 towns would total P19.9 billion, or close to the P20.9 billion, or the official total reported in that Table A of the proposed budget titled, “LGU’s List Priority Poverty Reduction Projects/FY 2015 Grassroots Participatory Budgeting.”

    Aquino’s GPB, undoubtedly, is pork barrel using one of its definitions the Supreme Court used in its decision declaring the pork barrel system unconstitutional:  “An appropriation of government spending meant for localized projects and secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district.”

    But with each city and municipality given roughly the same P12.5 million allocation for localized projects, isn’t this egalitarian and non-partisan?  Far from it.

    This is would be clear in the case of Batanes.  Ivana and Uyugan, two of Batanes six towns, have 1,000 residents each. But each of the two towns got P12.5 million in GPB funds.  Yet, Pasig and Paranaque, each with 600,000 souls, were also allocated the same P12.5 million each.  How tuwid-na-daan is that?

    The pork-barrel system, from Cory’s to his son’s terms, precisely has been used to ensure, entice, or coerce local political leaders’ support for the incumbent. This is because national funds controlled by the central leadership are allocated for local projects, which the congressmen choose and use to build up their political support, at best, and at worst, to make money out of.

    If the representative of a district, though, didn’t “behave,” the regime would simply withhold its release, and cite so many excuses why it couldn’t.

    This is a diabolical schemer we have for a President, not to mention his Rasputin Abad. The embodiment of justice in our land – the Supreme Court – struck down his pork barrel system, and the spirit of its decision is that it breeds corruption and the abuse of authority by a president. Yet, Aquino persists in using it, thinking it had found a technical loophole in the decision – but which, as I will explain in my next column, is a false hope.

    Aquino’s new-style pork barrel will subvert our democracy. If he gets away with it in 2015, he will repeat it in the election year 2016 and on a bigger scale, and it will be the biggest vote-buying system ever used in our country’s history.

     The complete list of pork barrel funds


    The complete list of pork barrel funds

    The complete list of pork barrel funds can be downloaded here:
    Grassroots Partcipatory Budgeting FY 2015 – Disaggregated Project List_81414-B

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    31 Comments

    1. Somebody has to challenge this new practice of Abad and Pnoy before the Supreme Court. If this is really similar to PDAF, the SC has to declare it unconstitutional, too.

    2. Ang sarap basahin ang mga comments ng mga taga Manila Times, synchronized ang criticism sa Pnoy administration. You really can feel that they are having a miserable time in this administration and because of it, it makes the whole administration group very happy.

    3. Andres R. Samson on

      From the time the element of work is identified and assigned budgetary funds and numbers in the budget plan and framework, the grassroots have no familiarity, participation, and no power to exercise control, manage, apply or even spend the same appropriation. It is still the same power structure and the assigned powers inherent in them that will still move the funds for application in whatever listed line item projects or programs of the GAA. Devolution of governance is a healthy idea but operationalization and systems of check and balances must also be set up at the lowest operating level of the bureaucracy. How much money is lost at the baranggay level is common knowledge and it has become fashionable for the entrenched TRAPOs to even make a grab for whatever political positions are available at this political level during electoral exercises to start their long winding careers in public service.

    4. When people vociferously condemn the PDAF and the DAP, what do they suggest be done in their stead? Unless I missed it, I find nothing, nada, zilch, suggested. Which does not solve the problem. Like when you have diabetis, at least you know what you must do or avoid.
      I venture a solution: Let the town and city mayors draw up what’s needed by their constituents, package this together with what the provincial governors need for their provinces, all itemized avoiding duplications and with deadlines, then the government will have a basis for distributing funds directly to the people. It’s easier said than done but better done than picking figures from thin air, and appropriating money thru Congress and losing billions of pesos thru kickbacks.

      AFCabaero

    5. gabriela silang on

      smart aleck aquino and abad once again trying to pull a fast one on us…truly,abad habit never dies. they need all the funds in their hands to control congress lest aquino will be impeached, and to bankroll the presidential bid of mar to secure non-imprisonment after june of 2016. the plan is plain to see. naturally, you can not count on congress to do its job of scrutinizing the budget for dong so would mean no lard. and just what can you expect from a congress numbered by reps and sens. so sycophantly servile to master noynoy? hate to believe that we are doomed but with evardone et al, am convinced we really are!

    6. adolfo gomez roldan on

      Pres. Aquino defies the Supreme Court by calling PDAF by another name and proposing the same in next years’s budget,,,PNOY deserved to be IMPEACHED !!! He has brought shame to his mother, the late Pres. Cory Aquino and the Country…He is just another political scoundrel who wants to stay in POWER….

    7. Bago mag komento ng kung anu anu alamin niyo muna ang pinag kaiba ng PORK BARREL o PDAF… Ang PDAF ay lumsum appropriation para sa bawat mambabatas, ang ginagawa naman ngayon ay IDENTIFICATION of SPECIFIC projects nominated by lawmakers. Naka incorporate sa GAA ang bawat project na yan at hindi lumpsum amount lamang gaya ng dati…

    8. With the way the administration is allocating and distributing funds and the amount thereto, I tend to believe that our is really rich pretending to be poor.

    9. If this is so, let us sue them again. The Supreme Court would just have to declare it unconstitutional likewise…

    10. >>> Ever since I never heard the voices of Representatives from Manila like from Tondo-First District except Representative Lito Atienza. What are they doing there in Congress? What and How much you got from PDAF and DAP ???

    11. This revelation making me sick and totally disappointed in our government right now. Media should take their job and be honorable to expose the real face of corruptions in our government like MT’s doing and other non-yellow media. Most of the prominent media practitioners in our country like in GMA7 and ABS CBN were all bunch of paid journalist and has no balls to expose the present government under BS Pnoy, they are more concern about how they look in front of the camera. Pathetic.

    12. Where are our men and women in uniform? When this blatant disregard for and violation of the law happens, what do they do? Sit and wait? How much does it take for them to throw this moron into a mental facility? How much do we Filipinos need to bear?

    13. The GPBP projects are identified by civil society organizations in the municipalities during a budgeting workshop conducted for that purpose. Congressmen have nothing to do with project identification and the funds are transferred from national line agencies directly to the municipalities. These then undergo the usual bidding process at the LGU then implementation is monitored by hired community mobilizers (CM) and the CSOs who identified the project. I am a CM, I did not vote for Pnoy, I will vote for Mirriam in 2016 if she runs, I am against all forms of pork and check your facts before exercising your freedom of too much talking. If you really want to check on how GPBP projects are done, come to the communities where they are being implemented. These projects matter to people in the barangays whose state of poverty none of you can ever relate with.If I have any complaints about this project, it’s just the minor detail that I wasn’t paid my measly salary the past two months but it’s okay, i consider it part of my contribution towards that matuwid na daan that all of us are dreaming of.

      • It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t the congressmen and congresswomen, or the president who decided who was to get how much. They’re still partly to blame. They’ve approved it, no?

      • How else could projects deemed benefiting the people be identified if it’s not the work of the indigents telling their representative what they need. It’s the same anywhere you go, like it is here in the States. This is participatory budgeting. Nothing wrong with it. But I do agree that distribution shouldn’t be one-sie fits all such that P12.5M per town. It should be based on P20B divited by total population multiplied by the size of the town or city. Simple math with equity.

    14. Pnoy will always get what he and Abad want to do for the rest of his term because we are all cowards. I wonder if Pnoy really care about the improving the quality of our lives after his term. Pnoy will always bragged about the 7 percent GDP growth rate the only the rich benefitted. No new factories are being built because of the rising cost of electricity. Our prime prime commodities are continuously on the rise and the only move that Pnoy did was to appoint a food czar Kiko Pangilinan whose only quality aside being lawyer was to manage a 30 hectares farm land.

    15. This is their way of tuwid na daan. Grabe! Outright disregard of the law and constitution. PeNoy, aBAD, Pig-headed Drilon, and their cohorts. We will not forget and we will not forgive unless we are given Justice. You have bastardized and fooled the Filipino people for so long a time. Nagmamalinis ,tse!

    16. carlos jose montenegro on

      Cong. Rey Umali is the brother of Gov. Alfonso “Boy” Umali. Gov. Boy Umali is the president of Governors League of the Phils and a certified “Kabarkada” of Pnoy since Congress days when Boy Umali was still a congressman. No wonder Cong. Rey Umali got his reward. Pnoy needs some re assurance that he is still popular that’s why he went to Mindoro Oriental last week to boost his pride.

    17. our constitution is the highest fundamental law of the land where everyone shall follow, even “Pnoy ,our President”, SC had ruled it already the unconstitutionality of PDAF & DAP, but Pnoy continued defying the order by its new scheme of just changing the color of of “old dog” ….his action is worst than previous President, he must face the consequence of all his illegality after his term expired, no ifs no buts, thats the only solution , but for now let strengthen all valid, legal , solid , concrete evidence against him , if nothing happen in the near future,then by all means he must be prosecuted, Mr. Tiglao is the best ” WITNESS and at the same time shall be brave enough to really pursue it”, hoping for ur continuing quest for truthful exposes…filipino people needs ur wisdom at this time…

    18. It’s useless to still read an article which would never recognize good deeds in this present dispensation. Which would only cater in furtherance of the writer’s agenda. But of course he’ll always pursue such strategy to show to his master his ever unending loyalty & fidelity.

      • Edison Buendia on

        Korek!!…this writer has and will never be called a journalist per se (take two sides of an issue and write)….he will always try to paint evil in whatever this present dispensation does in order to please his master in VMMC. What a waste of journalistic talent (I actually admired his posts at Far Eastern Review but when he got this GMA leech, he lost everything of it).

    19. joulhlan s. aralar on

      congressmen have no control over the gpb funds. it go direct to the municipality and is coursed through the agency in charge of the program identified by the civil society organizations. even the mayors have no hand in choosing the projects under gpb. there might be other means for the pork barrel but i honestly believe it is not in the gpb.

      one loophole which can be corrected though is the across the board allocation of 12.5 M each town regardless of the population, thus, a big disparity when we compare municipalities in batanes with the municipalities in Rizal or Cebu.

      this report might be a “kuryente” item. the aquino admin can easily explain that gpb is not a pork barrel and that is the truth.

      thanks.

      • me thinks, this supposed project has no plan at all, otherwise, why the budget is the same at 12.5M each province or municipalities? what kind of project is this? the cost, how they arrived at 12.5M…ahhh guesstimate!!…

    20. When you said does he think the filipinos are fools the answer is yes. All politicians here think the filipino are fools & they are mostly right & thats why they have & will continue to steal money from the people. If people dont stand up & stop things when they start happening then just wait for the politicians term to end before punishing them they are being unfair to all the people in the country as dont let this go on a day longer than it has. In my country we the people have access every month to speak to our local elected politician face to face, then each week in parliament we have prime ministers question time. There are always great arguments in that but more important is people get to see how the politicians act & what they say & helps us be informed on who to vote for. I dont think for one second politicians here would want anything like those things here as all would see the incompetence of these fools.

    21. To paraphrase Napoleon Bonaparte, “Never interrupt PNoy when he is making a mistake.” He’ll account for everything when he’s no longer the president.

      • ….not when it’s a Liberal or Binay, whom the Aquino sisters ‘like’ & who will be endorsing.