• DAP, savior or omen?

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    The continued barrage of appalling news about the President brought about by his alleged “mishandling” of government funds sums up all the reasons for the steady decrease in the trust rating of the President. Although by and large it is still a positive rating, it is expected that the hype brought about by his “unpresidential” reaction to the striking down of the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAP) will further erode the people’s confidence in his leadership. The President’s open defiance of the high court’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of DAP will put the President in a bind as far as his relationship with the judiciary is concerned.

    The President, in his desire to justify the misjudgment he committed and absolve his associates from such action, tried to appeal to the people’s emotions and resorted to “Robin Hood” tactics that would justify his bungling. He was being emotional in his speech, not knowing that his combative words were doing him more harm than good. His thrust of putting the highest court on his side in the ouster of the former chief justice may now be jeopardized because of his having implicitly challenged the unanimity of the high court’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of the DAP.

    The President is treading on dangerous ground with his open defiance of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Not because of the institutional crisis that is bound to transpire, but the collective action of the people that may occur as a result of his reasons for defying the high court.  The imminent collision of the two branches of government could create confusion that would be detrimental and damaging to the business and economic environments.

    Who would dare invest in an unstable political leadership where rulers refuse and fail to get their acts together? This government dilemma will, in the end, do more harm than good to the people. We are living in a time where “ours is a government of laws, not of men,” where right reasons and not pent-up emotions should rule.

    The possible economic repercussions of the DAP looms in the horizon as the Singapore-based DBS, a leading bank in Singapore with over 250 branches in 17 markets, expressed its possible ill effects. DBS forecast a slowdown in local GDP growth as an aftermath of the SC ruling. The ruling, however, is a realization of the illegality of the DAP action. A big amount was used by DAP to pump prime the economy. Regardless of whether the pump priming was proper or otherwise, it nevertheless created income for certain sectors of the economy by way of monetary circulation.

    Such negative developments in the DAP scheme will certainly create distrust among investors, local or foreign. Although the main driver of local growth is local or domestic consumption, private and public investment has contributed immensely to the country’s total output. But with the outlawing of the DAP program, it is not far-fetched that investors may shy away from our local shores because of the perception of instability the program has created.

    But all is not lost for the government. In the first place, a greater number of our “masa” who are deprived of the right information about the DAP are still sympathetic to the government. In the first place, the thrust of the leadership in resorting to this action was reportedly to facilitate deliverables to our people regardless of the legal repercussions. And these can be further justified if the government could come up with the particulars of where these P140 billion worth of projects were spent.

    Here we have the government enjoining people to pay the right amount of taxes and even resorting to shame campaigns, and people go about their daily toil just to earn a living for their family and for the government, and yet they are not properly informed about where their taxes go. That in itself is injustice to all the people who pay their taxes and sustain this government.

    P.S.

    My condolences to the bereaved family of my former student at UST, Godfrey Brylle Pua, who died of heart failure at the young age of 24. His body lies in state at St. Peter Memorial Chapel on Quezon Avenue.

    (For comments email: doc.ejlopez@gmail.com)

     

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