• For fools


    Been neck-deep doing dramaturge work (among other things) for Tanghalang Pilipino’s Kleptomaniacs, a rap musical with libretto by Layeta Bucoy, compositions by Jose Carlo Frio and Nina Virgin, and directed by Tuxqs Rutaquio. It has been overwhelming, to say the least, as the years I’ve spent writing theater reviews—it turns out—was no preparation for being part of a production’s unfolding. And at this point when much of it is fine-tuning and tweaking, watching this cast doing the full run reminds me of how this particular subject matter got me to say yes.

    It is what has made me a fan of Layeta’s work, and I say that with the admission that she has become a friend: she dares do the absurdity of the real that we all live with in this country, where the poor become poorer, and the rich and powerful … well. They are in government, and just don’t care.

    No apologies

    And are full of themselves really.

    Watching The President’s Men, i.e., Secretaries Edwin Lacierda and Sonny Coloma speaking to the press—and in effect to the rest of us—about their responsibility with regards the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) has been frustrating—and I am being kind.

    Because we all know there’s something wrong with the disbursement of funds for projects that look good on paper, but which we do not see accounting for. And really, as with the pork barrel and the President’s discretionary funds, what they show us are mere lump sums that we are told goes to certain projects like school buildings and scholarships, disaster preparedness and relocation of informal settlers.

    We never get a break down of expenses. And as it turns out: we also don’t get an apology from the person who signs off on these disbursements that are unaccounted for.
    What we’ve gotten though is a whole lot of arrogance. And no sense of command responsibility.

    What’s in a signature?

    No matter how Malacañang and the President’s Men spin it, what’s clear is that PNoy signed off on those DAP documents. In late 2013, he also defended DAP, seemingly pissed that it was even being questioned.

    The government websites—and the pretend-critical-sites (haha!)—are quick to show us that the DAP was a good thing. Because look at those hospitals it helped modernize! Look at the school buildings it helped build! Look at this clean river, that better province!

    Of course we have no real sense of whether or not these projects—all on paper—actually happen. The attitude seems to be that as soon as the Executive allocates DAP funds for various projects (by its own Departments or Divisions, and “its” Senators), it becomes the responsibility of recipients to account for this allocation. So there’s no command responsibility, no real monitoring of where this money goes.

    The Department of Budget (DBM) of course is to blame here, and it doesn’t help that the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) revealed on July 4 that they had filed a request for “data and documents covering DAP projects” in October 2013. The response they got then were that the information was being gathered and verified.

    Nine months since, and PCIJ has gotten nothing from DBM. There were DAP allocations in 2011 and 2012. PCIJ was asking for it in 2013. And nothing.

    Why would any self-respecting, transparent, tuwid-na-daan government not have documents readily available to prove that it cares at all about where taxpayers’ money goes?

    This inefficiency, this refusal to provide the public with a list of projects, and a clear accounting of where our money goes, was everything that was wrong with the pork barrel system. It is everything that’s wrong with the DAP. It is unjust, and it is negligent. One might even think it corrupt to some extent.

    This is what the President puts his signature on.

    No regrets

    Asked by the Malacañang Press Corps if the Executive regrets the decision to put DAP in place, Lacierda struck back: how can government regret it when it allowed them to create Project Noah and acquire those Doppler radars? says Lacierda. All those projects it funded for the public good! All those public services!

    Yet we have nothing on what these public services are, no sense really of how DAP allocations were used, to the last centavo—o sige, to the last hundred? We have no sense of what it is that these DAP funds have improved or made better.

    Rains fall for half an hour and streets are flooded; traffic grinds to a halt. The MRT is congested, public transport is unsafe. Our public hospitals are being privatized, minimum wage remains low even as the prices of basic goods and services go up. The impoverished majority is told they aren’t poor if they can earn P46 pesos day – even a beggar or watch-your-car-boy will earn that daily.

    This is the thing really: I’d be more forgiving of DAP if it had actually gone to something concrete, something that palpably changed public services, or the way we live in nation. Goodness, I’d be more forgiving if a huge part of it had gone to preparing all those provinces and towns in the path of Haiyan for the strongest typhoon to ever make downfall. I’d even be forgiving if it had gone to overwhelming storm victims with relief goods, and making sure that their houses and communities are being built better.

    But we’ve got none of that here. Instead what we do have here is a nation that struggles with false political stability and a government that lives off spin. What we have is a majority impoverished and growing poorer by the day, proving that none of these DAP projects that government thinks it accelerates into fruition actually affect the poorest of the poor. What we know is that none of those DAP billions has meant free medical services and safer public transport, neither has it meant secure employment and an end to hunger and poverty.

    Kleptomaniacs speaks of precisely this state of affairs, and asks if hope is even possible in the face of governance that is far from truly changing people’s lives.

    At the rate this government is going, hope seems to be for fools.


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. victor m. hernandez on

      Actually DAP is a mechanism to Not Plan Well Ahead, it is lethargic. It also means a short cut to the process of good governance. That is why it is called Accelaration Program because it by-pass Congress, the one that should appropriate. The Executive that should have planned and submit this programs and projects for Budget Appropriation just settle for a short-cut, a straigth line, the fastest way from point A to point B. That’s what they mean by Daan Matuwid, a straight path, by pass Congress, and let’s just do it. Doing this straight path, daan matuwid, a short cut is fraught with a lot of risks of graft and corruption. Done in good faith, and how for heaven’s sake will that be in good faith, when you know the process of appropriation, and procurement of projects. Well, the Supreme Court had decided to put a stop to all this nonesense process, which is inimical to the check and balance of a tripartite governance: Congress, Executive, and Judiciary. My favorite geometric figure is Triangle; the Executive favorite geometric figure is a straight path, a straight line from A to B. That’s fast way to laugh yourself to the bank. No regrets. We might as well have a clear and simple dictatorship, rather than a moro-moro fiscal democracy.

    2. I read daily all the news and opinions… I am just wondering why nobody talks about something good the president have done??? I saw here in my province some good works and improvements for progress… Only I always hear from media that Pnoy is evil. Is it how the media works now? Only bad things got publicity?

      Why don’t praise Pnoy… PDAF and DAF was abolished in His term?
      Why don’t praise Pnoy… our AFP finally going to be modernized?
      Why dont praise Pnoy… our tourism is booming?..etc!

      I understand Pnoy maybe have shortfalls in the eyes of others. Corruption cannot be avoided even in what form of government. It’s very hard to control. Even you go to the rich countries. Corruption is still existing there. Only minimized. I salute to Pnoy, eventhough corruption still exist, at least He minimized it. I realized how hard corruption could be cured, as they say it’s like a cancer. But Pnoy step by step minimizing it. How? By abolition of pork barrel… By getting into jail those big three senators et all… By improving the efficiency of Customs and BIR..Is it not a sign of “Daang Matuwid”!

      We should understand that He cannot stop corruption easily because this corrupt officials still have blood running from the previous administrations. Like Enrile! But now I felt that they are more careful and afraid to pocket public money. Wala ng mga naka tiwangwang na project sa lugar ko. Wala na ang issue ng overpricing. I think if you want progress in your place… Vote those who are not corrupt. Don’t blame the president but blame yourself why you voted a useless leader in your small community. The president cannot attend to all our personal needs. That’s why we have mayors and congressmen. If the president give them a DAP or PDAF in good faith and it is not allocated to the projects…and pocketed it, well something wrong with your community leader!

      If you want to sue the legality of DAP… why don’t you also sue the previous presidents which PDAF is also illegal. Why you are angry to Pnoy whom in His term, he ended this pork barrel as mother of all evil and father of our poverty!

      Patience because if we topple Pnoy as His opponents wishes… Binay will take over! History will repeat itself on GMA. We will go back to zero again. We will become citizen of China since these influential chinesse businessmen are in Makati!

    3. The usual flimsy and self-serving excuses of Coloma, Lacierda and Valte. Just looking at the smirks in their faces when they defend PNoy to high heavens is an anomaly in itself. Yes, they maintain that their were projects intended by DAP and PDAF but it will not even take a minute to burn those paper projects and siphon the money intended for those projects into their pockets. Bribing by using public money which is not PNoy’s personal use is too easy to manipulate by the bribed legislators.