As far as Malacañang is concerned the scandal over lawmakers’ misuse of public funds has not tainted the Mr. Clean image of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
The Palace did not agree with Reuters reporter Manuel Mogato’s analysis that the pork barrel issue “has become the biggest crisis of Aquino’s three-year rule, tainting his carefully crafted image as a corruption fighter and undermining his ability to push economic reforms.”
Just the same, the President really is concerned about addressing the issues confronting his administration, presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said on Friday.
The President is “sufficiently addressing the issues that confront the country and making sure that they are paid proper attention,” Valte said, noting that the recent surveys show public support for Aquino’s “daang matuwid” (straight path) police has not waned.
”The platform of the President should really stay the course with anti-corruption—meaning, important to make sure that those who are found accountable will be made accountable and that at the end of the day,” she said.
Valte said “there is always a group, or there is always someone who will stand up and say, ‘This is the biggest crisis [for Aquino]thus far.’ But, as far as we’re concerned, there are also many other priorities and many other issues that the President focuses his attention on.”
”At this point, it’s important for us to make sure that systems are in place to avoid any fund misuse. I think even the President himself acknowledges that we’ve been making headway into this but we still need to do more,” she said.
Valte conceded that funds of different state agencies may have been misused. “It’s hard to say 100 percent that it is not being misused. What’s important to us is that it’s discovered quickly and that charges are pressed and the people who are supposedly responsible are made accountable for their actions if and when there are cases of misuse,” she said.
On the proposed abolition of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), widely considered to be the President’s own pork barrel, Valte said they prefer to wait for the Supreme Court decision regarding its constitutionality.
”The Disbursement Acceleration Program is nothing but the use of realigned savings for other purposes that have already been laid out in the General Appropriations Act,” she said. “And given that it’s being challenged already in the Supreme Court, it would be best for us to wait for the pronouncement or any decision of the Supreme Court on this.”
Valte said “it’s best to wait, considering that the Court has already moved to consolidate the six different petitions against the constitutionality of the DAP.”
Valte said she respects any opinion or criticisms against President Aquino’s speech on Wednesday night.
”We have always been forthright with the facts and explaining and have always been ready to explain the ins and the outs of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which we tried to do in the past months that this has been an issue in the public eye,” she said.
”But at that particular point in time, the President felt that it was important for, at least, the public to hear what he had to say about these issues and I think he succeeded in so far as letting the public know,” Valte said.