Aquino’s fall from grace

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While abroad, I had occasion to read opinion columns in Manila’s leading newspapers on political developments in the Philippines.

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Tony Lopez

Tony Lopez

The conclusion one invariably makes from reading these columns is that President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III is under siege—beleaguered from nearly every quarter.

Aquino’s largely adoring press has turned against him. He has lost popularity and political capital. The public is dissatisfied with his performance. Critics are calling for his impeachment. Others are calling for his removal from office. The fear is that he may not even last his six-year term – which I doubt.

Aquino has been shown to have bribed the senators to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona, using hundreds of millions of pork barrel money. Corona was accused of corruption because he failed to disclose between P80 million and P100 million of income and earnings from various sources in his annual statements of assets, liabilities and networth (SALNs) during his years in the Supreme Court. For that failure, the chief magistrate supposedly betrayed public trust and was therefore guilty of graft, though much of the hidden money was hard-earned money, not taxpayers’ money, unlike pork barrel money.

But for senators to accept hundreds of millions of bribe to convict Corona is an even worse form of graft and abuse of power. And the briber was no less than the highest official of the land, the President. BS Aquino used money from two sources of pork barrel—the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and his invention, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to bribe the senators.

Aquino’s fall from grace is reflected in the steep and broad fall in his net satisfaction rating, in the September 2013 by the Social Weather Stations, by 15 percentage points, equivalent to 15 million Filipinos— assuming a base population of 100 million.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Amando Doronila put the fall in sharp relief Oct. 22, 2013:
“The survey results showed that the President’s net satisfaction rating (the difference between the number of those satisfied and those dissatisfied) dropped to +49 in September, down from +64 in June, and from +59 in March. His net satisfaction rating was gutted in all areas nationwide and in all socioeconomic groups, indicating the scale and sweep of public disaffection that has hit the administration midway in its six-year term.”

“Most disturbing was the 26-point plunge in the Visayas, from +74 in June to +48 (one point lower than the national average). The President’s rating also fell eight points to +38 in the National Capital Region, and 15 points to +52 for the rest of Luzon; Mindanao was +52, with a six-point drop. In the 2010 presidential election, Mr. Aquino polled close to a million votes in Cebu. Commission on Elections figures show that Cebu province had the largest number of people (1.8 million) who voted in 2010, while the Visayas accounted for more than eight million voters in 2010, or 21 percent of the total voters. In the September SWS survey, it appeared that the Visayas, especially Cebu, was leading in the erosion of the President’s popularity.”

“In the rural areas, where poverty is widespread, Mr. Aquino’s net rating slumped 18 points (higher than the national score) from +70 in June to +52 in September. On the other hand, his rating in urban areas (where the middle class predominates), dropped to +47 from +57 in June. It was among the class E respondents (the poorest sector), where Mr. Aquino’s popularity received the worst beating: It dropped 29 points, to +39 from +68 in June.”

“For a President whose most valuable political asset has been his consistently high popularity ratings (until last month), the across-the-board erosion of this political capital signaled the beginning of the end of the era of a Teflon presidency immune from criticism from a largely laudatory press and a fragile and coopted opposition.

“The opinion surveys tell us that, first, the administration has entered a period of discontent and smoldering political unrest, and second, street protesters (such as those who made up the Aug. 26 Million People March at the Luneta) are outraged over the President’s duplicitous stand on their demand for the total abolition of the pork barrel (not only of Congress but also of his huge patronage chest). The streets are in ferment again, as they were in February 1986. The protesters are denouncing the pork barrel as the parent of corruption feeding on taxpayer money.”

The No. 1 issue against BS Aquino is pork barrel which is basically corruption money. This pork is under two categories—PDAF and DAP.

PDAF is the money allocated congressmen at the rate of P70 million a year and senators at the rate of P200 million a year. The total per one congressional term of three years is P210 million. The total per year for all senators and congressmen: P25 billion.

The total per one senatorial term of six years is P1.2 billion. As the records of the Commission on Audit show, most of the PDAF pork barrel was stolen by our congressmen and our senators. This makes our congressmen and senators thieves—thieves of the worst kind because they are stealing people’s hard earned money.

This is why I have called Congress—the House of Representatives and the Senate— the largest criminal syndicate in the Philippines. For this reason, I have also proposed the abolition of Congress. We don’t need a Congress, at least this kind of Congress. We have already more than 15,000 laws and more than 30,000 lawyers. So we have more laws and more lawyers than Filipinos need in their entire lifetime.

And as it turns out, there is even a worse kind of pork barrel—the DAP. This is money assembled by President BS Aquino from various monies of the different cabinet ministries and agencies and pooled into a single fund. Only one man can disburse it—BS Aquino. In 2011 alone, disbursements from DAP amounted to P72.5 billion. In 2012, another P54.8 billion was released—a total of P127 billion in two years.

“DAP is an insidious sabotage of the Constitution and clandestine subversion of the General Appropriation Acts,” bewailed the Philippine Constitution Association in its petition to the Supreme Court asking that DAP be declared unconstitutional.

DAP is unconstitutional because no taxpayers’ money can be spent without the authority of Congress or a law passed by it. DAP is bad because there is very little accountability attached to its disbursement. This makes it prone to abuse and graft.

Bna.biznewsasia@gmail.com

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11 Comments

  1. Senate n Lower House should not only be abolished but it’s members jailed and left to rot until they cough up the monies they stole. If they don’t, line them up against the wall to face a firing squad. That’s the only to prevent their resurrection in the future.
    In the private sector, if you cannot produce your designated output you get fired! In congress, even if you have absolutely zero output – you still receive millions and millions of pesos, strut like you’re an emperor, and become president!! Onli in da pilipins….

  2. I find it repulsive that after SWS found Aquino’s ratings to have plummeted, Pulse Asia , by sheer manipulation of words in its survey questions still reported that its survey indicated that Aquino still had approval rating of 79%. That is clear deception of the Filipino people.

  3. Pitong Daspalas on

    Aquino, in his infinite wisdom (or lack thereof), not only looked the other way, but facilitated the pervasive plunder, a culture the PI elected officials have gotten used to. Inocent got it all right when he says, Aquino knows all too well that “feeding” these Pigs with pork will help him hide his own inequities, and advance his agenda, hence the corona debacle. This scam has been the major “water cooler” conversation for the last three months; it’s almost expected to last for a little while longer without any tangible steps to do something about it. It is because the Filipino judicial system is inept, porous, and marred by a “padrino” system. No one seems to know what to do; it is a situation that a thief is forced to convict a fellow thief.

  4. President PNOY is just like his predecessor, like Estrada, Arroyo they have one thing in common, they are are all corrupt, DAP is form of graft, even grade 1 pupils, know when things given are gift or bought. Pls don’t lie to people of the Phil’s. You need to clean your backyard in Malacanang. Again using the same premise as DAP to the recent quake. Fooling again Filipino people. We’re not dumb.

  5. Romeo Polistico on

    I totally agree with you in the abolition of the whole congress to save a lot of money to be allocated for the alleviation of the poor condition of million Filipinos who are suffering from lack of food, shelter, clothing and source of livelihood.

  6. Voice from the Wilderness on

    Yes, indeed the present inept president in malacanang can be considered as a teflon president because in spite of the graft issues besetting his administration it seems that none can stick to connect him directly and make him personally accountable. But he must not remain complacent together with his avid fanatic yellow supporters because as everybody knows, teflon is not a permanent coating in cookwares as it wears down in the long run with often repeated hard cleaning which can be true with his present inconsequential Regime. He must be ready when that time comes because he will be also be made to pay in some sort of Karmic justice.

  7. Having been a Congressman for 9 years and a Senator for 4 years and enjoying pork barrel himself, Noynoy is having difficulty to think that pork barrel is gravely abused by the 2 houses of thieves and should be abolished. Moreover his allies like Butch Abad, Drilon, Belmonte plus Boyet Gonzales are themselves former member and current member of the House of Thieves. Great tenx to Benhur Luy and co. To avoid or lessen criticism Noynoy should work to hasten the filing of charges to all pork barrel congressmen/senators and to whipped the Judiciary to hasten the hearings pronto.

  8. BS Aquino has been “weighed and found wanting. His days are numbered”. Instead of using the hundreds of billions of pesos in Malampaya, DAP and pork barrel funds to uplift the lives of millions of needy Filipinos, he misused these public funds instead as bribes to pursue his insane lust for political power. Abnoy will go down in history as one of the most incompetent and corrupt presidents our suffering country ever had.

  9. It looks like the King of Pork knew that there is no way for him to stay at the top. He knows that he is incompetent, that he does not know anything about good governance, that he is an incidental and accidental President because of the death of his mother, the saint Cory. Bearing of this facts and in order to remain in power until 2016, he had to do something drastic. Because he was a Congressman for 3 terms and Senator for 1, he knows the in and outs of both chambers specifically the hunger and thirst of the legislators for wealth and power. Apparently he knows who these men and women are, who have been using their PDAF for their exclusive use c/o NGO’s. Clearly, PNoy knew who Napoles is and what she does for her Senator and Congressmen customers. Knowing the weaknesses of the legislators, he knew that bribing them with Pork, theirs and his, all of them will toe his line, not only because of the bribes but because PNoy knows who the thieves are. Bribing the legislators with lots and lots of public tax money resulted in the success of PNoy’s bribing spree and all what he says to these legislators and other public officials will be done without hindrance whatsoever. The past 3 years of King PNoy’s performance proves that this comment is accurate.

  10. The sharp fall of the President’s popularity is indication that the people (his boss) are not happy in his administration. He tolerated corruption by some members of congress and he knows it – he allowed it. So many people are hungry and living in the abyss of poverty, yet he allowed all these monies pocketed by some lawmakers.

    It is impossible that he does not know where these monies are going or where/how the are being spent.

    It is impossible that none of his loyalist whisper to him about this corruption going on.

    It is impossible that he does not know the activities of Janet Napoles.

    Those social pictures of Janet with President are very revealing. The escorting of Janet to Camp Crame means a lot to the President, not because her life is in danger. It is because, Napoles is very important woman to him. If Janet will “spill the beans”, come hell on high water- the game is over, Mr. President.

  11. the reason they impeached gutierrez and cj corona, so they have no hindrance to do their evil things. what bs Aquino wants bs Aquino get. this gov’t don’t believe in the constitution, they follow their own law, drilon’s law.