IT has never been the style of previous leaders to find solace in blaming others or certain events. But President BS Aquino does exactly that, blame others for bad events and occurrences in his administration and the Philippine economy. The seeming faults in our stars are blamed often to GMA, a contrasting message that had traction at the beginning but has lost its glitter as we hit the last inning in the 6 year term.
Instead of buckling down to work and coming out with clear cut solutions for problems, Malacañang has been in the blame game business to deflect responsibilities. More often, the talking heads will spin the news so leadership is not part of the blame. Such was again the behavior of the House by the Pasig River when NEDA officially released the growth data last November 27, 2014.
NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan stated, “the Philippine economy grew by 5.3 percent in the third quarter of 2014. This is much slower than the 7.0 percent expansion we observed in the third quarter of 2013. Growth in production was mainly contributed by manufacturing (1.6 ppts); trade (1.1 ppts); and real estate, renting & business activities (0.7 ppts), and construction (0.7 ppts). However, deceleration in sub-sectors such as financial intermediation and the contractions in agriculture and public administration tempered the pace of growth. On the demand side, the growth was fueled by net exports (2.1 ppts), private construction (1.1 ppts), and food and non-alcoholic beverages (1.0 ppts). However, the contraction in government consumption and public construction slowed down total demand.”
Balisacan concluded, “The third quarter economic performance shows a mixed picture of the private sector treading a more stable upward trajectory, government adjusting to new spending protocols, and then, the lingering negative impact of typhoon Yolanda and other calamities.”
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), “Government Final Consumption Expenditures declined by 2.6 percent in 2014 from 7.0 percent in the previous year due to the delays in the disbursement of major government expenditures for salaries and wages as well as maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) for the implementation of programs and projects of the major sectoral departments.”
In the Balisacan press briefing, there was not much spin. It was direct with general reference to the reasons why government was unable to meet the targets. But, in the usual scheme of things under the Aquino administration, we saw several spins made by talking heads.
Immediately after, the blame game kicked in. Despite the so-called budget “reforms” like DAP and budget as releasing documents, Malacañang went on overdrive blaming the Supreme Court for the drag. Malacañang partly attributed the Philippines’ slower economic growth during the third quarter of the year to new “spending protocols, triggered by the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was partially unconstitutional.”
DBM Secretary Florencio Abad said “uncertainties” after the SC’s DAP ruling “played a crucial role” in the third quarter economic slowdown. “The ruling may have sent a chilling effect across the bureaucracy’s expenditure practices. At the same time, some budget reforms we’ve put in place—exactly those designed to make the budget more transparent, accountable, and open—increased the requirements that agencies and departments had to comply with before their funds could be released.”
The effort to pass the buck got a response from the Chief Justice herself. She rejected the Palace’s insinuation that the slower growth in the third quarter could be partly attributed to the new “spending protocols” arising from the declaration that the DAP is unconstitutional. Sereno said the Supreme Court’s decision on DAP had nothing to do with the GDP growth rate. “I see it as a theory and it will remain as that.”
From Day 1 to probably Day 2,190 of the six-year term, the Aquino administration can be best remembered for the blame game legacy. Instead of moving forward to solve problems, they blame everyone. Instead of focusing on work and building consensus, they isolate themselves and continue to drumbeat their righteousness. Instead of upholding the Rule of Law, they favor only their side, Tuwid na Daan.
Realizing their folly, another spin was made to correct the statements made officially since the Supreme Court will soon rule on the reconsideration of its ruling on DAP. The other spokesperson comes in saying, “As far as I know the administration is not blaming anyone. That particular statement on the effect (of the SC decision) was not intended to apportion blame, but it was also just a statement that was needed. This is what we had to contend with. We had to make sure that we were not in violation of any of the parameters laid down by the Supreme Court.”
From Day 1, the Aquino administration has been coldly received by the bureaucracy, the institutional memory of government. The appointments were questioned, some bureaucrats were publicly shamed, their budgets taken because they were “slow” despite the mandates of their offices, their salaries and benefits were cut, suspended, recalled and placed in one pot known as DAP, a pork barrel for the most favored. All these in the name of reform and so we asked, there is so much money, whatever happened to the projects? JFK once said, “let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
And so it will come to pass today or 9 December that the Supreme Court rules with finality on the DAP that the so-called “reform measure” is unconstitutional. A welcome Christmas gift to taxpayers just like PDAF in 2013. And so “if you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.”