My column last week on “A Do-Nothing Aquino Administration – Part 2” (MT, 05 July 2004) cited the pending concession of the 94-km Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) as an excellent example on how the presidency of Benigno Aquino 3rd vacillates on and defers important decisions these past four years. Until today, the 25-year concession for the operation and management of SCTEX has not yet been resolved.
To preclude any possible suspicion (if not too late), I would like to make it clear that I was not approached by the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) to write on the SCTEX contract that was awarded to them on June 9, 2010. The mention of MPTC President Ramoncito Fernandez and what he said was based on a news report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer where he was quoted and which I used.
(That Inquirer news item dated July 21, 2010 was entitled “MPTC unit seen taking over SCTEX soon” and written by Ms. Doris Dumlao.)
Another clarification is that the word “being” was inadvertently omitted in the sentence of my article (mea culpa) about the final contract for the SCTEX concession. Thus, it should read: “the final contract was already being drawn after the notice of the award was given by the Bases Conversation Development Authority (BCDA).” So the final contract was not yet “already drawn” after MPTC received the notice from BCDA.
Hopefully, the above clarifies whatever that may have been unfortunately misconstrued from the paragraphs of my article anent the SCTEX concession, the MPTC and its president.
Arrogance & hypocrisy on DAP
What is adding insult to injury after the Supreme Court on July 1, 2014 declared the despicable Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of President B. S Aquino 3rd as “UNCONSTITUTIONAL” is the arrogant attitude of the puerile president. There will be NO Apology from PNoy because the Aquino administration has done Nothing Wrong!
The statement from Malacañang really riled people as evidenced from the very angry reactions in social media. It is now obvious that the puerile president and his people have a natural gift for antagonizing us, Filipinos, as well as foreigners living here and abroad who are concerned for our country.
Well, it is perhaps true to character of a brat who became president. He has never made any sincere apologies to the Filipino people for all the mistakes or blunders he has committed in the past four years of his presidency. Perhaps the arrogance is to make up for his insecurity as a leader since he is acutely aware of his lack of qualifications. If true, what could be the possible explanation for the height of his hypocrisy. Character flaw or defect and/or personality disorder?
Good faith on DAP?
An argument on the DAP after the Supreme Court decision is that it was done in “Good faith.” This is the line of defense of the Office of the President. Fr. Joaquin Bernas, an acknowledged constitutional expert, attributes “ignorance” of on the part of President Aquino. “It seems to me it’s more of ignorance of the Constitution, and ignorance is not a ground for impeachment,” Fr. Bernas opined
However, PNoy could not have been ignorant. He easily could have availed of the legal advice of the Justice Secretary, the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal and the Executive Secretary who is a lawyer. Even DBM Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad is a lawyer, a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila, and also a veteran congressman who understands very well about the budget process and all.
PNoy could not invoke being ignorant (even if he looks like one) because he had been “thoroughly briefed on the constitutionality of the budget appropriations” when he was a Senator (2007-2010). Then Senator Aquino in 2008 even filed a bill against impoundment of public funds after attending the briefings given by Social Watch Philippines (SWP) headed by former National Treasurer and UP Prof. Emeritus Leonor Briones, who writes a Times column.
In the second session of the 14th Congress, Sen. Benigno Aquino 3rd principally authored Senate Bill 3121 entitled “The Budget Impoundment Control Act” that sought to limit the discretionary powers of the President to realign and defer releases of funds. Aquino’s bill sought to prohibit the President from “usurping Congress’ power of the purse.” (Manila Standard Today, July 5, 2014)
Yet when it declared the DAP unconstitutional, the Supreme Court said President Aquino has “usurped the power of the purse” when he realigned budgets to co-equal branches and brought them outside of the Executive branch. Amnesia or sheer hypocrisy?
President Aquino 3rd and his cohorts cannot invoke good faith because they know it is against the Constitution. As Sen. Miriam Defensor said in the Philippine Star on July 2, 2014, the issue of DAP is a “No Brainer.” Said she: “The DAP is illegal because it was not contained in the 2011 or 2012 budgets, and because the alleged savings were used to augment new budget items which was not previously authorized by Congress.”
Yet President Benigno Aquino 3rd was very firm on national television on October 30, 2013 when he defiantly defended that the DAP as “constitutional.” Is PNoy and his legal advisers really that Super-Stupid?
The earlier estimate of P157 billion of the DAP is now HIGHER—it is P177 billion. This is based on the documents that DBM showed to the Supreme Court. So it is even higher by an additional P20 billion. Whatever happened to Daan na Matuwid when PNoy got P2.0 Billion for his home-province of Tarlac (originally P1.1 Billion). Worse, the DPWH projects were cornered by the construction company of a friend and supporter of PNoy not only in Tarlac, but also in Pampanga and Pangasinan. However, what is worst of all is that the public infra projects in Tarlac and Pangasinan are either not needed and/or hardly used, are over-designed and obscenely overpriced and built of SUBSTANDARD QUALITY materials. Well, that is typical of DPWH projects.
Speaking of “Good faith,” why did PNoy and DBM Secretary Abad HIDE the DAP for two years (2011-2013) when it was supposed to be good for the Filipino people. It was only after the expose of Senator Jinggoy Estrada in a privileged speech in September 2013 that Abad was forced to reveal the existence of the DAP. They could have announced the DAP “stimulus” in late 2011 or in 2012 and even early 2013.
Good faith of President B.S. Aquino 3rd on the DAP issue is like raping a woman thinking that she would enjoy it and be good for her just like with the DPWH projects.