President BS Aquino and the Yellows may be taking us for morons or have run out of excuses in defending the indefensible—the bribing of senators after the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona by giving them additional pork barrel.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad said that the money given to the senators, taken from an unknown budget item called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), was meant to help accelerate economic expansion. He denied that the release of additional pork was linked to Corona’s impeachment. Senate President Franklin M. Drilon (FMD), who received an additional P100 million from DAP, said the fund went to legitimate projects. Well, tell that to the Marines! What’s indisputable is that the additional pork went only to those who voted to convict Corona.
How can the grant of additional pork barrel be considered as move to accelerate economic expansion? I thought the administration wants to do away with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for senators and congressmen! Now, it’s trying to justify that the giving of additional pork, known by another name, to senators is vital for accelerated economic expansion. It seems the administration can speak on both sides of its mouth.
Oh well, I guess the administration is still relying on its friends in media and on its die-hard followers to believe whatever it says. Thus, it can give the most atrocious explanation and still hope that it will gain credence. How long can the people allow themselves to be fooled?
The column of Dr. Dante A. Ang, chairman emeritus of the Manila Times, in Tuesday’s issue of this paper, mentioned a surreptitious meeting between BS Aquino and Sen. Bong Revilla in Malacanang to discuss the bribery in Corona’s case. This meeting shows that behind that facade of confidence is an administration whose knees are rattling in nervousness. No wonder, the president has noticeably looked pale and lost weight.
The move of BS Aquino on the Corona issue is a graver offense than the failure to fully disclose the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth that caused the conviction of the former chief magistrate. However, I don’t expect the House to initiate any impeachment proceeding against the president. What? Impeach him and lose their ITM? A change in administration in 2016 could be the time when those responsible for this bribery will get their comeuppance. The administration shouldn’t expect the continued “loyalty” of congressmen once a new one takes over. As the saying goes, “If you want loyalty, buy a dog, not a politician.”
The actuations and pronouncements of FMD (again, this stands for Franklin M. Drilon, not Foot and Mouth Disease) have also been disappointing, to say the least.
His refusal to sign the subpoena for the testimony of Janet Lim Napoles before the Blue Ribbon Committee and his defense of the additional pork from DAP show that he would willingly give up the inherent powers of the Senate. I have never seen a Senate as willing to emasculate its powers as the Senate under FMD. I used to think that the 13th Congress (2004-2007) was the worst ever in the history of the Philippine legislature. Well, the 16th Congress could well be on the way to being worse.
Some are saying that FMD’s refusal to sign the subpoena could cause his downfall.
FMD does not stand on a high moral ground on this issue. He cited legalities to justify his stand but his colleagues in the Senate were also citing legal provisions and precedents to refute his arguments.
If ever FMD is ousted from his perch at the Senate, this won’t be his first time. On Nov. 13, 2000, he was replaced by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. after he had openly supported the impeachment of then President Erap Estrada. (Pimentel voted for himself when he realized that his original plan of abstaining would keep him from getting 13 votes) FMD bolted from the ruling coalition, Lapian ng Masang Pilipino, earlier that month over charges that Estrada had received more than P400 million from jueteng payola.
FMD regained the top Senate post in the 12th Congress, after EDSA 2 when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo replaced Estrada. However, a very reliable source told a group of newsmen, including this columnist, that FMD merely placed third in a straw vote of pro-GMA senators. The late Sen. Renato Cayetano and Sen. Manny Villar tied for first. The same source said that GMA called on Cayetano and Villar to give way to FMD. Villar agreed and became the pro tem and chairman of the Committee on Finance. Cayetano also agreed but wangled a term-sharing agreement with FMD. This term-sharing agreement was not carried out. Senators who were not parties to the agreement refused to honor it.