Throughout his presidency, President Benigno Aquino 3rd has blamed former president and now Pampanga lawmaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for all of his administration’s failings and failures.
When it came to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), however, his finger had to be pointed at Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
The DAP is claimed to have fast-tracked government spending in a bid to boost economic growth, using savings and unprogrammed funds.
It supposedly enabled the government to introduce greater speed, efficiency and effectiveness in budget execution.
The Supreme Court would later declare the DAP as unconstitutional, ruling that the appropriate role for the executive department is to prepare and implement budget laws as authorized by Congress, not to spend the people’s money any way it pleases.
Ironically, the President blamed such laws for his administration’s under-spending.
It is speculated that he will have to explain before the courts whose brainchild the DAP was when he steps down from office in June next year and when he loses his immunity from suit.
If Aquino was not being a fault-finder, he was sarcastic, even when he should have been compassionate.
Meeting with families of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos who had been killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January while on an operation to get two terrorists, he reportedly told his visitors, “Patas na tayo [Now we’re even].”
The President was alluding to the death of his father, former senator Benigno Aquino Jr., supposedly in the hands of forces loyal to then-strongman President Ferdinand Marcos at the tarmac of the then-Manila International Airport in 1983.
In the first place, critics said, it was he himself who approved the mission that left dead 23 other people, including the main target–Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.
While Aquino took responsibility for the Mamasapano massacre perpetrated by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), he is yet to say sorry for the fiasco.
At the same time, however, he placed the blame for the failed operation on the SAF chief, Director Getulio Napenas, whom he said had actual “control of the troops” who were sent to Mamasapano.
By blaming Napenas, the President spared his dear friend and then-Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, whom he had authorized
to supervise the counter-terrorist operation even if Purisima was under suspension at the time.
Fallout from the massacre delayed the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which would have capped a peace agreement between the MILF and the government.
The BBL is supposed to be Aquino’s signature legislation that would grant enhanced autonomy to Muslim-dominated areas in Mindanao.
The 2016 presidential elections raised concerns that the House of Representatives and the Senate may not be able to pass the proposed law under the Aquino administration.
The President reportedly offered P1.5 billion to more than 200 House members in exchange for the passage of the stalled BBL.
The lawmakers reportedly wanted P50 million in cash each but Aquino dismissed the report.
It was not the first time that allegations of Malacañang bribing the congressmen surfaced, the Palace having been accused of buying the lawmakers in exchange for their votes to impeach then-Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The bribes supposedly were sourced from the DAP funds.
Despite the supposed incentives offered by Aquino to the lawmakers, Congress is not expected to be able to approve the proposed BBL this year.
The bill is pending at the plenary of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The third regular session of the 16th Congress will resume on January 18 next year but will adjourn again on February 5 to give way to the campaign period for the 2016 elections.
Incompetent and insensitive
After six years in office, the appalling inability of the President to feel ordinary people’s pain seemed to have infected his entire administration.
Perhaps the classic example is Aquino’s preferred successor, former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, who has gained notoriety for his one-liners.
The latest is his rationale for infernal traffic problems: They are supposed to be a result of the “booming” economy.
During the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Summit in Manila last November, the President tried to transform Metro Manila, for a few days at least, into what it is not–traffic-free and garbage-free– just to ensure the safety and comfort of 21 visiting heads of state who were taking part in the meeting, reputedly the biggest event to be hosted by the Philippines this year.
The public paid the heaviest price for Aquino’s good but misplaced intentions.
Traffic got more monstrous, roads were closed and flights were cancelled, exacerbating the plight of already suffering ordinary Filipinos, who had to practically spend the night on the road, waiting for cars to move and planes to fly.
Worse, these poor souls who were told by the government that November 18 and November 19 will be special non-working days, even for daily wage earners who will not get paid if they do not work on those days.
Meanwhile, the 21 heads of states were talking about “building inclusive economies and building a better world.”
The 2015 APEC summit in Manila will probably be remembered by Filipinos as a showcase of the gross incompetence in traffic management and the insensitivity of the Aquino administration to the welfare of ordinary people.
The situation, apparently, is going from bad to worse and this is all because criminals know that the country’s current leader is hopeless and useless in stopping them.
President Aquino, through his own words and those of his propaganda team, is audaciously presenting himself as the leader this country badly needs.
But if you ask the man on the street, this country needs a leader who cares about and listens to his people.
Unfortunately, that leader, evidently, is not President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE