HEADING into the 2016 elections, the Aquino government and the administration party (the Liberal Party) will have a ton of anomalies, violations and policy mistakes to explain.
It may seem like small change in the sea of misgovernance, but one of the biggest sins Aquino and his chief advisers have committed is the gross injustice and cruelty they have inflicted on local governments and local communities.
In this sector, where we all live, Aquino and his chief cohort Butch Abad have cruelly, deliberately and contemptuously starved us of public funds, which belong to us and our communities by law.
Adding hypocrisy to injury
This crime was inflicted with no small amount of hypocrisy.
In November 2013, when Supertyphoon Yolanda/ Haiyan struck, President Aquino and local government secretary Mar Roxas went to great lengths to tell local and international media that our local governments had the responsibility as alleged “first responders” to cope with the havoc wreaked by the typhoon. That was their way of saying that the national government should not be blamed for the sluggish and inadequate government response to the catastrophe — for the bodies of victims on the streets that went for days uncollected, for the failure of the relief and rescue effort, for the collapse of peace and order, and for the absence of civil defense.
But now comes information that should make us weep.
That same year, 2013, according to the Commission on Audit, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) under Secretary Butch Abad refused to release to local governments P302-billion of their internal revenue allotment (IRA) from national taxes, as provided by the General Appropriations Act and the Constitution.
This was one of the direct offshoots of the Aquino government’s Machiavellian scheme to use, impound and redirect the national budget to projects and expenditures of their own choosing, like the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Specifically, the COA found that in 2013 “the IRA shares for CY 2013 of the local government units in the national taxes amounting to P302, 806,286,459.00 were not automatically released to LGUS but maintained under DBM administered funds (Fund 103) in violation of Section 6, ARTICLE x, General Provisions of the1987 Constitution,”
which provides that the share of the LGUs in the national taxes shall be automatically released to them.
A crime against the people
Just before Congress adjourned sine die last June 11, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed a resolution calling for an inquiry into this violation of the law and the injustice done by the national government to thousands of local communities throughout the country.
This is plainly a crime against the people. Every citizen is part of a local community and LGU, whether he lives in Metro Manila, or in the countryside. In our respective ways, we all feel the brunt of this deprivation in terms of diminished or delayed services in our communities. In some cases, this can take the form of more crimes in our neighborhoods, and the failure to deliver basic services, such as garbage collection and the like.
Yet with total heartlessness, the administration held back these funds. The sum involved even exceeded the sums illegally directed to the DAP, which in its first year only involved about P147 billion. P302 billion is double the amount.
DBM has sought to justify this anomaly by saying that “the maintenance of the DBM Fund 103 for release to LGUS is necessary to segregate the funds intendeddd for LGUS from the funds for their regular operations.
COA has retorted, “there is no legal provision mandating that the DBM should adminster the LGUs’ share in national taxes. What is clearly in the constitution and the GAA is that these funds shall be automatically appropriated and released to the LGUs.”
Scheme for control of 2013 elections
The reason for the maltreatment of local governments was to ensure victory in the 2013 elections for the administration. Aquino wanted LGUs to be dependent and subservient to him.
This is irresponsible and unjust twice over. The national government, gets almost all of national resources and income. And yet, it is the local governments which stand closest to the lives of our people. In terms of trust, as shown by trust surveys, the citizenry places its greatest trust in their local governments, because they are truly first responders in their need for basic public services. Ordinary Filipinos, if asked in an honest survey, will readily declare that they trust their mayor or councilor, more than the president.
We live in a constitutional republic in which our elected officials are bound by the constraints of the Constitution, which means they don’t have a license to do whatever they please
As we head to national elections next year, many of us are wondering what Aquino will do, by hook or by crook, to ensure the victory of his chosen candidates, and to avoid jail when his term is over. Will Smartmatic do this task for him, and will we pay again this totally shameless company billions to cheat us?
Aquino believes the end justifies the means. He thinks in his gut that if a policy is personally advantageous, they should find a way to implement it, regardless of whether he has the constitutional authority to do so.
Disaster we must face today
This mindset constitutes the great danger to the nation and the elections next year. Under no circumstance, should we just accept a repeat of this injustice this year and next year.
If you think this criticism harsh, I say inaction in the face of such outrage is complacent and cowardly. For it is our nation which will unravel before our eyes.
The deliberate screwup of the 2016 balloting is the disaster we must already face today.