President Benigno Aquino 3rd is stubborn but for the right reasons, House leaders said Friday.
Reps. Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list, Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol party-list expressed such sentiments a day after President Aquino addressed the nation on primetime to dare his critics to prove innocence of thievery amid the expose on the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
“The President’s action shows who he truly is: stubborn, when he believes that he is right. He is not swayed by public opinion, and will do and say what he believes is right,” Tugna, the House Deputy Majority Leader, said in a text message.
President Aquino also took to primetime television to defend the President’s Social Fund (PSF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which funds priority projects of the Aquino administration out of savings and surplus government revenues.
It was Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, one of the alleged beneficiaries in the P10 billion PDAF scam, who disclosed that DAP was released to lawmakers to fund their pet projects.
“The people will eventually separate the grain from the shaft, the truth versus propaganda,” Tugna pointed out.
“When the President said, hindi ako nagnakaw [I did not steal], everybody is sure to understand that, whether you agree with DAP or not,” Baguilat, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, added.
Batocabe, for his part, underscored that the President just emphasized that his administration is dead serious in going after grafters.
“This is in the interest of justice, blind lady justice,” Batocabe said in a separate talk.
But for Rep. Sitti Hataman of Anak Mindanao party-list, it would have better if the President emphasized how the President’s discretionary funds made an impact on the lives of ordinary Filipinos.
“Although some were mentioned, I believe there are still more, especially in the ARMM. It is not just about utilizing the funds properly, but whether or not it benefited the people,” Hataman, the wife of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman, said.
As expected, Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list refused to buy the President’s argument.
“No amount of public relations can deodorize the stinking pork barrel system. If he does not abolish it, its stink will stick to him too,” Colmenares stressed.
The critics of the President tags all kinds of discretionary funding as pork barrel.
“The call against the pork barrel system is not a creation of his political opponents but a genuine public response against the pork barrel,” Colmenares added. LLANESCA T. PANTI