President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday resumed bashing his predecessor, saying Gloria Arroyo could have misused as much as P1 trillion public funds when she was president.
Addressing the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, the President said Arroyo night have misused between P836 billion and more than P1 trillion. Arroyo represents Pampanga’s second district in the House of Representatives.
”During their 10 years in power, the average annual budget was around P1 trillion. Is this not appalling, that funds equivalent to the national budget for one year may have fallen into their hands, to use wherever they wanted?,” Aquino said in Filipino.
He hinted that the money is being used to destabilize his administration and to “sow violence and terror.
”Let me reiterate: not less than P836 billion and perhaps more than one trillion pesos.
We wonder: How much was lost, stolen, toyed with, used in transactions just to stay in power? Is it an exaggeration to assume that perhaps this money is still in use today to erode your trust in the straight path?,” he said.
”To sow chaos and discord in different ways, and to contest the very situation we find ourselves in today: where we who have been oppressed for so long, we who are searching for justice, are the ones who will prosecute and hold accountable those who have committed crimes against the nation? Is it an exaggeration to think that a portion of the funds now in their hands—to allot wherever they wish—is now being used in an attempt to return us to the old and corrupt ways of doing business?” Aquino said.
He said that at least P637.36 billion may have been misused through re-enacted budgets that allowed Arroyo to realign government savings for other purposes.
”Under corrupt leadership, the National Budget became the primary instrument of corruption. First of all, in their near-decade-long time in office, they enacted the budget on time a total of one time. What is wrong with what they did? Due to the reenactment, there were projects that had already been finished the year prior that were still allocated funds,” Aquino said.
The funds become savings that the Executive branch “can spend on wherever it pleases,” he said, citing the reenactment of the budget in 2007.
“Hadn’t the months of January, February, and March already come and gone?
Haven’t the obligations for those months been paid with authoritization from the 2006 budget? Rather than being taken from the budget for 2007, why did the funds for those months remain authorized?” Aquino said.
He slammed the Arroyo administration for misusing the Malampaya funds, which he said should have gone to energy projects, or to help the energy sector.
“And yet what happened? P23.33 billion of the Malampaya fund was used by the past
administration for other purposes. Where did this money go? To entries under and other such purposes,’ most of which were called ‘priority infrastructure projects of districts.’],” Aquino said.
”In other words, the Malampaya fund became much like PDAF—used for politics, to pad the pockets of allied lawmakers. Included here is the P3.96 billion that went to “priority development projects” in Palawan,” he added.
Under his government, Aquino said the Malampaya fund went to projects or equipment for the energy sector, such as sitio electrification, the enhancement of our capacity to guard our energy fields, and addressing the energy shortage in Mindanao.
He said that the past administration also played around with the foreign exchange rate.
“The most widespread scheme is revising the assumptions on foreign exchange rates. The Executive proposes an assumption, which cannot be increased. So the past Congresses doctored the assumptions to lower our payments for foreign debt. After doing that, they would have funds to allocate to other things. This is where they get the fiscal space for their individual insertions,” he said.
“Rice. Congressional insertions. The Malampaya Fund. Reenactment of the national budget. These are just some of the mechanisms that the past administration utilized in their abuse of the nation’s coffers, not for the benefit of the Filipino people, but to ensure that those in power will stay in power—and will amass even greater wealth,” the President added.
Aquino was silent on the series of alleged anomalies that continue to rock his administration such as the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP).
The DAP was allegedly used to reward senators who voted to convict former chief justice Renato Corona.
”This is why we will continue with our reform agenda, no matter how much noise our enemies make, and no matter how difficult it may be to uproot the corruption that has wormed its way deep into our systems,” he said.