Second of two parts
The first part of this column came out yesterday, Tuesday July 22, 2014.
D. How about President Joseph Ejercito Estrada? His administration lasted for two short years. According to his Budget Secretary, Dr. Benjamin Diokno, no such fund was created. During the first year of his administration, Pres. Estrada was busy generating revenues to pay off the huge accounts payable left behind by his predecessor.
E. Finally, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She created her very own P330 billion Stimulus Fund. It was officially called the ERP or Economic Resiliency Fund. I remember asking caustically, “Who will be stimulated by this Fund?”
What GMA did was transfer funds from the executive department including, among others, P50 billion in debt service and P100 billion from financial institutions and social security institutions to accumulate over P330 billion for her Stimulus Fund. These transfers were included in the Appropriations Act.
The questions raised during that time by Social Watch Philippines were related to the expenditures and utilization of this fund, considering that it was created just before the election.
It will be very interesting to find out if GMA engaged in cross-border transactions for her Stimulus Fund. It must be noted, however, that when Comelec needed more funds, a supplemental budget was passed—certainly a constitutional solution!
If GMA indeed resorted to cross-border allocations, this makes her and the present administration two of a kind!
A challenge to media, civil society groups, academics and independent professionals
Of course, the excuse that everyone did it is no excuse. Still, it would be a great scoop if the big media outfits will gather all the living budget secretaries of the different presidents in one forum and verify if they created DAP-like programs. The information would be helpful in setting the record straight.
Marcos’ budget secretary was Jaime Laya. He was succeeded by Manuel Alba. Cory’s budget secretary was former Sen. Alberto Romulo. He was succeeded by Gem Carague. Ramos’ budget secretary was Jun Enriquez, followed by Emy Boncodin. Erap’s budget secretary was Ben Diokno. GMA’s budget secretary was Emy Boncodin who had returned to government. Then she resigned and was succeeded by former congressman. Andaya.
Most of them, with the possible exception of Emy Boncodin, are still living. As an academic and scholar, I believe it would be also be great if researchers can track these key officials and get their confirmation or denial. They might have documents which the public is not aware of.
Certainly, the results of this exercise will confirm or negate the claims of the Executive. The information generated might be useful when the Supreme Court reviews the Motion for Reconsideration.
[Prof. Briones’ Handurawan column regularly appears on Tuesdays. This is the conclusion of her column whose first part came out yesterday, Tuesday July 22.]