Pinoys angry, frustrated with Aquino – Diokno

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ASIDE FROM being the “last peaceful  alternative,” the People’s Initiative (PI) campaign to fix the government’s “corruption-prone” budget system is the “last best hope” for majority of Filipinos who are “angry and frustrated” with the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, former Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno said on Sunday.

“Most Filipinos are angry and they want real reforms. Because they are disappointed and frustrated with the elected leaders, they are willing to take the act of legislation, through the people’s initiative, into their hands. This is an act of direct democracy as opposed to representative democracy,” Diokno told The Manila Times.

Diokno is at the frontline of the PI campaign along with former chief justice Reynato Puno, former National treasurer Leonor Briones, lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Philippine Constitutional Association and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

He teaches at the University of the Philippines School of Economics.


“The first best hope is for the Supreme Court to rise to the occasion and declare the DAP unconstitutional and define clearly the areas of responsibility of the Executive and the Legislature. An ideal budget system is one which is transparent, where Congress has and exercises the power of the purse, where the power of the President to impound appropriations require congressional concurrence, where the Commission on Audit exercises some prosecutorial powers, and where ‘savings’ is strictly defined and observed,” he said.

Diokno said an ideal budget system “is unlikely to emerge given the present leadership. In this sense, the people’s initiative could be the last best hope for this country.”

According to him, true reforms in the flawed budget system can only be done by a “truly reform-minded” president which Aquino is not.

“Unless real reforms are done, the dysfunctional, corruption-prone budget system will continue to reign not only now but in the future. But President Aquino has drawn the line: he likes DAP [Disbursement Acceleration Program] and is determined to defend it,” Diokno pointed out.

People’s anger
He stressed that a PI campaign is doable because more Filipinos are angry over DAP, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and other forms of pork barrel.

“The discontent transcends party lines. It’s total—rich and poor, young and old, urbanites and rural folks, catholics, protestants, INCs [Iglesia ni Cristo], Muslims and other religious denominations,” Diokno said.

Last week, Puno gave the same assessment on how the people feel about the controversies involving the pork barrel. He said that PI is the last remaining peaceful option to institute reforms and scrap all forms of pork.

Sharing his thoughts at a roundtable discussion with the editors and reporters of the Times, Puno said this alternative was incorporated in the 1987 Constitution as the people’s last nonviolent option to bring about changes that Congress cannot deliver.

Puno said the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions did not have such a provision which is “the reserve power given to the sovereign people in 1989 by Republic Act 6735.”

“When EDSA [People Power Revolution] 1 came to pass, they expanded the direct sovereignty of the people. Congress now shares the power to enact laws with the people,” he said.

Puno and Diokno confirmed that the PI campaign will go into full swing by the end of November, after a People’s Congress in Cebu City that will decide on the provisions of the budget reform law.

The former chief magistrate said he was willing to write the draft law once its form and substance have been determined.

“The draft budget reform law is being finalized and will be adopted by the multi-sectoral PI Congress sometime in January 2014. The formal signature campaign will then follow,” he said.

A budget expert, Diokno said the DAP violates the Constitution and the basic doctrine that once Congress has approved the budget, and the President has signed it into law, the President cannot rearrange the budget and create a budget within the general appropriations law.

Legislators, on the other hand, cannot and should not participate in the implementation of the budget, he said.

“Any act that would upset this intended balance of power is deemed repugnant and unconstitutional. The President cannot slice and dice the general appropriations law, reshape and change its budget priorities, and come up with an altered spending package—a new, unauthorized budget within the budget. Allowing it effectively changes the balance of power,” he said.

’Palusot’
Diokno shot down Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s defense that the DAP is a “stimulus” program created to spur various projects.

Abad’s claim, Diokno said, was only a palusot (excuse).

“The first order of business is to establish the legal basis for the DAP. None exists. I have not seen any budget memorandum circular or any executive order creating the DAP. But I’m sure Budget Secretary Abad must have written a formal Memorandum for the President asking for the creation of the DAP, stating therein the sources and uses of the P85.5-billion savings,” he said.

But in the absence of an explicit approval by the President of such a memo, Abad exceeded his authority, Diokno said.

“The use of savings has been specifically assigned to the President and other heads of constitutional offices. It cannot be further delegated,” he said.

“The DAP is clearly unconstitutional, and its rationale, no matter how noble, cannot make it constitutional. First of all, there would have been no need for the DAP had the President and his men done their respective jobs well,” he added.

Assuming that savings are available, augmentation has to satisfy two conditions in the budget law—first, that it is applied to an existing item in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), and second, it has to be within the same office.

The “simple, clear rule” is that all the items in the budget law are deemed to have passed congressional scrutiny, and what is not in the GAA has not gone through congressional scrutiny and approval, and hence cannot be augmented, Diokno said. Asking lawmakers to identify new projects for funding from savings is clearly an illegal act since it violates the clear rules of augmentation, Diokno added.

“There is a clear difference between an act of an individual legislator and an act of Congress. The act of identifying projects after the budget has been approved by Congress is an individual act. Yet, only Congress, acting as a collective body, may authorize the disbursement of public funds,” he explained.

“The irony is that the DAP is hardly a fiscal stimulus. It is partly quick disbursing but not necessarily job-creating, partly political patronage, and partly financial engineering to show a faster rate of disbursement than what it would appear,” Diokno said.

He defined a real fiscal stimulus program as “one where public policies result in job creation and higher consumer spending. It could be through higher and faster spending or tax cuts.”

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45 Comments

  1. francisco o. amit jr. on

    I agree with former Diokno……. Pnoy is not a reformist….neither he is true to his campaign promise to implement the “Daang Matuwid”…. Proof…. Pnoy is allergic with the FOI bill which is an essential element of a transparent government….HENCE, it is long overdue the PI…..it s in the Constitution for quite a long time but never been exercise….and the time is now…..DIRECT DEMOCRACY is a must..

  2. for sam and polding, sir maliit lang pala sa inyo ang tag 1 million na pinamimigay ni pinoy sa mga senators at 50 million para sa mga congressman para mag vote ma impeach c corrona? whereas hirap daw sila mag hanap ng fund para sa victim ng lindol, anu kaya pinakain sa inyo ng present administration?

  3. PDAF/DAF are not the problem. The problem are the people (public & private) handling the money are corrupt because primarily they believe, bow down, and serve graven images, which are CORRUPTIBLE THINGS, and bring damnation and curse to the land. Graven images, including of Mama Mary and of the Lord JESUS CHRIST, are abomination unto the LORD. Please read the Holy Bible. Thou shall not make unto thee graven images . . . nor bow then. . . nor serve them . . Exodus chapter 20. Let’s worship GOD in spirit and in truth, and declare that “THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE WAY TO OUR GREAT SUCCESS. AMEN.”

  4. Primer Pagunuran on

    ‘People’s initiative’ appears to be rallying point of Diokno since direct democracy under this scheme is better than a representative democracy. It always sounds good. However, is he ready to back with evidence that in the terms, the word, ‘people’ he might be referring to are actually the majority of the Filipino people? Short of that, it is nothing but motherhood statement – a mere conceptual dogmatism. Well, dogmas are hard of explanation.
    If PI is what Diokno and his reformist group wants, why didn’t they coincide it with the last concluded barangay elections? A plebiscite or referendum of that vital importance ought to have been experimented on early. With the help of a former chief justice, am sure a ‘scheme of things’ could have been put in place precisely to know whether the Filipino people really want to get rid of DAP or PDAF.
    It escapes comprehension why now a former budget secretary has everything against a constitutional order where the president disburses public funds for public use in a way that makes it appear as if there is no longer a true separation of powers, check and balance and the tripartite constitutional order. Why that?
    Just an unsettling thought.

  5. enough is enough, a level II people power is needed to unseat or remove all crooks in the government and prosecute them. If these idiots and thieves do not want to vacate their posts then the use of people’s force should be applied.

  6. futile lang yan move na yan, matatapos na ang term ni Pnoy nakabinbin pa rin yan DAP sa SC, In case the SC uphold it as Unconstitutional, then the next moved is to removed Pnoy and have EDSA 4, kung ayaw nyang mag resign that’s it. Let gather and initiate the People movement again, Kc Masmasahon pa xia kay GMA for creating this DAP na sa kanyang Administration lang nya ipinairal. Pinapansin nya ang pang abuso ni GMA when it comes to money ng bayan and corrupt praktises ni GMA, pero xia mismo, ang gumagalaw ng pera ng bayan, lets say nde niya ninanakaw ang pera pero ung proceso, ay ilegal pra sa kanila ito ay tama. kya ano ang dpat ipairal, since wla na itong DELICADEZA system sa ating mga government official. Abolish na ang Pnoy Administration the best thing to do by Peoples Initiative na ma impeach na c Pnoy.

  7. wastedpotentialmind on

    Mandarambong talaga sila. Isinusuka na nga ng mga tao ang Pork ay ipinipilit pa rin nila. Ang kakapal talaga ng mukha. I am waiting for PI Sana tulungan tayo ng media d2.

  8. Purely subjective and speculative. What was Diokno’s basis for making such conclusion. Is is just his gut-feel? And since when did Diokno became the spokesperson for the righteous. He is making a lot of noise, all favoring his former boss, Erap & family.

    • Is that all you can say??? His basis was the constitution. And may I ask you, what is your basis of saying that his views are speculative??

    • Bonifacio B. Claudio on

      You are the one who is saying ” n’importe de quoi”… Ano ba ang ipinagtatanggol mo? Your rubbish reasoning stinks like your obvious desire for the continuation of the “pork barrel”…

      You say DIOKNO is a “spokeperson”? NO… he is a budget expert explaining why the continuation of the present budget system is a spite to our democracy, the “balance of power among the 3 branches of the gov’t, and the independence of the legislative.

      You say DIOKNO is making a lot of noise in favor of Erap & Family? NO… He was just putting weight on the people’s desire to scrape the pork barrel to end the corruption in the gov’t… “Mani Puliti” !!!

  9. If any of you think that Pnoy will listen to your righteous indignation you have another
    thought coming. People Power might convince him that bribing lawmakers is not the
    way to get rid of his enemies. I have no trust in the supreme court since the chief justice will vote for him so DAP questin might be shelved and washed off and make
    PNOY look clean again when he is as bad or worse than his predecessors

  10. Slowly we are seeing the devastation wrought by a rampaging bull let loose in a china shop. Pnoy’s dogged single-minded determination to hold on to his DAP must have forced open the eyes of a good number among us out of lethargy and apathy. This People Initiative headed by former CJ Puno is a welcome development. The names of the other frontrunners lend more weight to the effort. The combined wisdom and experience of former budget secretary Ben Diokno, and former national treasurer Leonor Briones and the other frontline members of the group deserve our attention and respect. That they have forced themselves out of their pampered life in retirement to form this initiative only underscores the danger we must be facing at the moment. It is our duty to heed their call. This could be our last chance.

    • Hi there! For a start, I just want to say that I don’t know you and Diokno. All I know about this issue comes from the various readings I do from different sources. I actually agree and support Diokno’s position in this instance.

      You on the other hand seems to disagree with him on the basis of him being corrupt. My common sense is telling me that there is something wrong in here. For clarification purposes; please allow me to ask you the following;

      Which part of what Diokno said is wrong and why is it wrong? I believe this is a better way to help solve the problem don’t you agree?

  11. And lastly, if theFilipino people are dead serious in this so called People’s Initiative, they might as well include in their move and enable an initiative to dismantle Political Dynasties, an enabling law that these Congressmen and Senators will definitely will try to subvert and torpedo at all costs. PI is a people’s mandate, but the CROCODILES will try to derail and torpedo the initiative at all costs – that would be the end of their oppressive domination of people’s taxpayers money and at the same token wielding so much power and control of the same “mangmang” masses who from time to time votes for them by way of patronage political system in place….

    • polding herrera on

      Ito talaga si Benjamin Diokno di lang nabigyan ng position sa administration ni Pnoy ang dami ng sinasabi against the government. If you are related to the late Senator Jose Diokno, Pare nakakahiya ka !!

  12. CORRUPTION IS WAY OF LIFE HERE IN THIS GOD-FORSAKEN PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. THE ONLY CHRISTIAN DOMINATED, GOD-FEARING NATION IN ASIA.

    HAYYYYY, WHAT A PREPOSTEROUS AND HIPOCRITICAL SAD IRONY OF THINGS, AS LAID BEFORE OUR VERY EYES – AND EVERYDAY LIFE.

    YOU COULD SUM UP IN A CAPSULE THE PHILIPPINE SYSTEM. Just look at how the Filipino driver conducts himself on the road, how he observe, or entirely DO NOT observe the established road rules – to make it easier and safe for other motorists. What you see will stun you to no end – If it is a green, he does not move, if it is a red, then he don’t care and proceeds as well…IT is already EMBEDDED culturally in a rotten, deceitful system – intended to take advantage at all costs – just to achieve the desired agenda…..to get ahead in the pack.

    • THE ONLY CHRISTIAN DOMINATED, GOD-FEARING NATION IN ASIA. and the most corrupt country in the world. Does Christian teaches thievery that made Philippines the country of thieves. I do not think so.

  13. The sitting Prez Penoy is under the illusion that his perceived popularity will legitimize
    his illegal dipping and juggling of funds to bribe these greedy and corrupt senators to convict the ex Chief Justice, – who ruled against the interests of the Aquinos/Cojuangcos’ Hacienda Luisita. And he has the gall to say to us that this HOLD-DAP funds were use in aid of calamity victims. What a preposterous and calamitous statement, coming from a sitting President who has a knack of blaming his predecessors for the failures of his current admin……

  14. What is alarming is the president is indeed very stubborn and this trait will make him continue to believe that he is doing what is right. People who know him knows he never backs down when his mind is bent on doing things. Take the special trip with napoles to crame, a president escorting napoles? this never happened before, and it did happen for a reason. come on guys, why not delegate the task to a senator or a general. The president? he wanted so much to put Gloria in prison, he did. he wanted so much to get corona out, he did. he is a dictator in sheep’s clothing, probably worse than the one we had before if we think on how he does things his way.l What would be creepy is, if the people power that installed his mom to power would be the same vehicle that would take him out of power.

  15. gary macalintal on

    Seriously, you believe in what Mr Diokno is saying….he was given a chance to serve the government before..
    Anyare?

  16. Manny De Guzman on

    Ang presidente na walang alam ay sunod ng sunod lang. Kasi wala ngang UTAK. May utak pero puno ng nicotine na malapot pa sa grasa. Hindi nag-iisip dahil wala ring isisp. May kaunting isip pero nakatutuk sa game station. Yan ang napala ng mga taong bumuto sa walang isip. Kaya napariwara ang pinas. Nakakahiya sa ibang bansa dahil ang laman ng ating balita ay puro kurapsyon na lang. May lakas pa ng loob na magpakita ng mukha ang pang-gulo ng pinas.

  17. Many people are waiting for the ground breaking of the People’s Initiative of former CJ R. Puno. Filipino are dying to go to the streets again for the restoration of justice and good governance. Needless to say, we see the end of the Abnoy and his co-conspirators.

    • then who you will replace for the abnoy you are saying about…a corrupt official and his fellow kings…you will see later…you will prove that history repeat itself…edsa 2 (from erap to gloria) and you witnessed what happened…right?

      if you have better replacement for pnoy…i support you for that…

    • However, majority of the country’s registered voters are familiar with the provisions of People’s Initiative PI that “10% of the total number of the registered voters (about 5 million signatures) of which every legislative district is represented by at least 3% of the registered voters thereof shall sign a petition for the purpose and register the same with the Commission.” Ten percent is 5million and 3% of which are representative of every legislative district. The path to PI can be compared to a ‘dead end road’ if
      registered voters will consider the time spent to brainstorm its mechanism to include numbers of volunteers needed, coordination, transportation, food, lodging & time needed to collect 5 million signatures. The same considerations were possibly used by the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO) why they asked President Aquino III to abolish the presidential pork. “The Pulse Asia survey also showed that, even with the President’s announcement to do away with PDAF, 45 percent are still calling for its abolition.” There are rampant vote buying in every election thus the people will not likely wait ‘til the 2016 election. Most corrupt candidates are loaded with pork barrel money to pay P500 to P1000 for every single vote needed to win. So what’s the only way out to end pork barrel as we know it? People’s Initiative, People Power Revolution i.e. EDSA III or the military as guardian of the people are the three options… What is preferable for (you) the people?

    • However, majority of the country’s registered voters are familiar with the provisions of People’s Initiative that “10% of the total number of the registered voters (5 million signatures) of which every legislative district is represented by at least 3% of the registered voters thereof shall sign a petition for the purpose and register the same with the Commission.” Ten percent is 5million and 3% of which are representative of every legislative district. The path to PI can be compared to a ‘dead end road’ if
      registered voters will consider the time spent to brainstorm its mechanism to include numbers of volunteers needed, coordination, transportation, food, lodging & time needed to collect 5 million signatures. The same considerations were possibly used by the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO) why they asked President Aquino III to abolish the presidential pork. “The Pulse Asia survey also showed that, even with the President’s announcement to do away with PDAF, 45 percent are still calling for its abolition.” There are rampant vote buying in every election thus the people will not likely wait ‘til the 2016 election. Most corrupt candidates are loaded with pork barrel money to pay P500 to P1000 for every single vote needed to win. So what’s the only way out to end pork barrel as we know it? People’s Initiative, People Power Revolution i.e. EDSA III or the military as guardian of the people are the three options… What is preferable for (you) the people?

    • sicnarf selbored on

      Beware of former CJ Puno, he is politicking for the sake of Puno clan. Remember him, when he was president of PCU; he did not want to relinquish his post; also during his time, there was this “cuatro or cuarto” controversy. Clinging to his post as prexy of PCU yet very corrupt. Ask alumni of PCU Taft during his time. Case closed.

  18. corruption is more rampant in this present administration that is why this government is silent and don’t want a thorough investigation of the matter. we should go for a change of the system, we still have the chance… we will support the move…

    • plunder cases were filed before the ombudsman…kaya’t papaano mong nasabing SILENT ang pamahlaang aquino…at isa pang information para sa iyong kaalaman…ang PDAF scam happened in 2007 – 2009 at ito ay masusing inimbestigahan ng kasalukuyang pamahalaan…let’s not be mislead by ignorance…

    • polding herrera on

      If only these critics were around during the Gloria Arroyo administration, Gloria and Mike Arroyo’s regime would have been short lived. Ang daming bumabanat ngayon, ang tatapang pero duwag noong panahon ni Gloria. Mga buwisit..

  19. While majority of the people may believe that the sitting president is sincere in ‘cleaning’ the government, apparently his means of doing it is “stubbornly illegal”. Unless there are changes made, he may be getting into more trouble with the people. It’s also about time that he has new advisers and speechwriters. Else, let’s hope not for the worst!

    • i am with you for the objective of change in the government..kindly be specific on your comment “stubbornly illegal”…i hope filing of plunder to involve in pdaf scam is not the one you are referring to as illegal and stubborn in submitting the complaint to the ombudsman…i hope you still remember this action of the present administration…their intention is to find the truth and to put to jail crooks…

  20. Mr.Diokno,before more people beleived you being clear and good vision as a guidance for the Pilipino people. But during the heavy issue between china & the Philippines your mouth in mind has lock up…..Hmmmm…you’re the same color
    of this people shouting marching along the street.

  21. We must support the Peoples Initiative if we want to change the political system of this beloved country and government will really work for and in behalf of the common man. We are to expect that this President and his team with the thieves in the legislative branch will fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo so they can go on stealing the citizens’ hard earned money. We must also assure that all the pigs will get the boot, as what Arch. Cruz wrote about because even if the case against the King of Pork for abuse of Pork will be shot down by the SC, these pigs will continue to find ways and means to keep stealing and diverting people’s funds to their own pockets.

    • if pnoy thinks he is righteous isn’t it right that we should be righteous also…this country needs all of us to be righteous…just like korea, singapore and japan…they put all together their efforts, trust to each other, sacrifice for one another…not just one or two people to be righteous…it should be all of us…

    • Bonifacio B. Claudio on

      As it came to pass, I totally agree with you saying “Dangerous bribing dictator.”