A syndicate posing as a government?

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Last week Budget Secretary Florencio Abad got a mild “stoning” from a group of students at the University of the Philippines. It was not quite the biblical stoning which the scribes and Pharisees had failed to give the woman caught in adultery in the New Testament, but the objective seemed more or less the same.

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Abad’s crime had nothing to do with adultery but rather with the massive diversion of public funds through the pork barrel system. This is technically known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program, both of which the Supreme Court, by a unanimous vote, has declared unconstitutional.

Whether or not Abad has become the most delinquent, unpunished member of the ruling syndicate, as some people seem to believe, is still subject to debate. But clearly the level of public anger against the man, and the dangerous company he keeps, is rising to volcanic proportions.

It is most unusual that the incident happened at the University of the Philippines. Far from being the hotbed of political activism that it used to be in the seventies, the university has morphed into a visibly pro-establishment institution. UP, unlike some other Manila universities today, is said to be among the friendliest to Malacañang. It shouldn’t have happened there.

In Marcos’s time the First Quarter Storm roared out of the Diliman campus to smash the very gates of Malacañang. But we never heard of anything similar to the Abad incident. As information minister at the time, I had to face the most radical anti-Marcos critics and crowds, but on the day I accepted an invitation to speak to the students at the famous UP Malcolm Hall, I got a rousing ovation rather than the expected jeers and catcalls.

What happened to Abad bodes ill for the Aquino administration. Things are bound to get much worse, just on the pork barrel issue alone, where we have not heard the last word. Greco Belgica, the winning lead petitioner against the pork barrel system, points out that the Executive and the Legislative Departments have not only failed to comply with the 2013 Supreme Court ruling, which declared the entire pork barrel system unconstitutional, but have, to the contrary, illegally resurrected vast lumpsums that have been voided by the Court in the 2014 General Appropriations Act as well as in the proposed GAA for 2015.

Belgica believes this is criminal conduct by both the Executive Department and Congress, which deserves the filing of charges against the entire membership of both Departments. That could leave the entire government vacant as the present office holders are made to join Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr in temporary detention even before trial and conviction.

Under the ruling penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe, an Aquino appointee, the Court, by a vote of 14 to 1 (abstention), has declared the following unconstitutional:

A. The entire 2013 PDAF article;

B. All legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel Laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF (Congressional Development Fund) Articles and the various Congressional Insertions, which authorize/d legislators—whether individually or collectively organized into committees—to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution, such as but not limited to the areas of project identification, modification and revision of project identification, fund release and/or fund realignment, unrelated to the power of congressional oversight;

C. All legal provisions of past and present Congressional Pork Barrel laws, such as the previous PDAF and CDF Articles and the various Congressional insertions, which confer/red personal lump sum allocations to legislators from which they are able to fund specific projects which they themselves determine;

D. All informal practices of similar import and effect which the Court similarly deems to be acts of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and

E. The phrases 1)—and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President, under Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 910 and 2)—to finance the priority infrastructure development projects under Section 12 of Presidential Decree No. 1869, as amended by PD No. 1993, for both failing the sufficient standard test in violation of the principle of non-delegability of legislative power.

Not only has the Court declared its temporary injunction dated Sept. 10, 2013 permanent. It has also enjoined the disbursement/release of the remaining PDAF funds allocated for the year 2013, as well as for all previous previous years, and the funds sourced from

(1) The Malampaya Funds under the phrase—and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President pursuant to Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 910— and

(2) The Presidential Social Fund under the phrase—to finance the priority infrastructure development projects pursuant to Section 12 of Presidential Decree No. 1869, as amended by PD No. 1993, which are, at the time this Decision is promulgated, not covered by the Notice of Cash Allocations (NCAs) but only by Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs), whether obligated or not.

The Court has ruled that the remaining PDAF funds covered by the permanent injunction shall not be disbursed/released but instead reverted to the unappropriated surplus of the General Fund, while the funds under the Malampaya Funds and the Presidential Social Fund shall remain therein to be utilized for their respective special purpose not otherwise declared unconstitutional.

Finally, the Court has directed “all prosecutorial organs of the government to, within the bounds of reasonable dispatch, investigate and accordingly prosecute all government officials and/or private individuals for possible criminal offenses related to the irregular, improper and/or unlawful disbursement/utilization of all funds under the Pork Barrel System.”

Despite the clear language of the Court, Malacañang and Congress have packed the 2014 GAA and the 2015 proposed GAA with various prohibited lump sums. Thus, for the current year, the Unprogrammed Funds amount to P139.9 billion, while the Special Purpose Funds amount to P282.6 billion. For 2015, in the election budget which Congress is expected to pass before December, the Unprogrammed amount is down to P123.1 billion, but the Special Purpose Funds allotment goes up to P378.6 billion. According to a previous report, the congressmen who were receiving P70 million each before the PDAF was outlawed, would now receive P108 million per.

You will notice that the DAP, which is Abad’s real brainchild, and which has produced a much bigger political earthquake than the PDAF, is only mentioned here in passing. Thanks to the evasive tactics employed by both the Department of Budget and Management and the Commission on Audit, we do not yet know the exact amount involved in the DAP. Were the public properly informed of the full extent of the unconstitutional DAP manipulation, Abad might have gotten not just a mild “stoning.”

But at this point, the onus is no longer on those who deserve to be prosecuted alone but principally on those whose duty it is to initiate and conduct the prosecution. This refers to the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice. Sadly, they have simply ignored the Court directive “to investigate and accordingly prosecute all government officials and/or private individuals for possible criminal offenses related to the irregular, improper and/or unlawful disbursement/utilization of all funds under the Pork Barrel System.”

Prosecution has been limited to the three opposition senators who are in jail on plunder charges, which could very well be applied to all the other pork barrel recipients in Congress, and to the effort to destroy the presidential aspirations of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay through the Senate blue ribbon committee’s shameful inquiry “in aid of legislation” by senators who could very well be equally charged with plunder.

Despite all this, anyone passing by Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City will notice a big Ateneo University sign announcing that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has been chosen to receive some important award as some kind of graft-buster, together with some rather worthy awardees. This is one cruel joke that does not leave us laughing. Whatever her real merits, she has wittingly or unwittingly made the Ombudsman’s office an instrument of selective political persecution.

Let us not talk anymore about all those who have received P50 million or more to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona at his Senate impeachment trial. Or those involved in bogus projects that went through the 82 or so Janet Napoles-type foundations. Let us simply talk about the members or former members of the Commission on Elections who have been charged before the Ombudsman with rigging the 2010 and the 2013 automated elections. Can Ombudsman Carpio Rosales tell us why, in Heaven’s name, these complaints have not moved at all?

For all the hype to the contrary, no one in this government has distinguished himself or herself fighting syndicated political corruption. More and more people are saying that between President B. S. Aquino 3rd and the leaders of the present Congress, we now have one big criminal syndicate masquerading as a government.

fstatad@gmail.com

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26 Comments

  1. he was wrong. he never mentioned stoning just for the purpose of stoning. he pointed out to a failed stoning of a WOMAN who was caught in adultery. the stoning that happened in the new testament involved stephen, a MAN. nevertheless, and going back to the issue at hand, i will say only this. GALIT ANG MAGNANAKAW SA KAPWA NIYA MAGNANAKAW. AND THATS THE GOVERNMENT UNDER PNOY who is the MAGNANAKAW. otherwise, you don’t find only opposition members being locked up in jail.

  2. All our governments since the time of Aguinaldo were no more than Criminal Syndicates – The Mafias.

  3. muriel magtanggol on

    I totally agree with you! Sindikato, Mafia, mga gangster, mambubutang, sanggano…name it! Mga criminal!

  4. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SAYING IN MY RADIO PROGRAM SINCE 2001 THAT, AT LEAST, THE GMA AND AQUINO REGIMES ARE CRIMINAL SYNDICATES MASQUERADING AS GOVERNMENTS.

  5. Cont’d from previous note… So, this matter of the PDAF as discussed not only here by Mr. Tatad but in many other articles by many contributors are, plain and simple, hypocrisy. I maintain that this is for the good of many of our fellows, particularly those living in the countryside. We only have to be able to put a good safeguard enough to avoid this fund being abused.

    Now, as to Mr. Tatad’s claim he was not treated the same way Mr. Abad had been when he was also invited to speak before an audience of UP Students at Malcolm hall during his stint then as the Sec. of Information under Marcos. Mr. Tatad again tries the obviously and totally incomparable atmosphere attendant in both occasions. There is no need to belabor this anymore as his appearance then may have been fraught with much ironical lies as the Martial law itself were.

    The DAP issue that Mr. Tatad always float is meant just to always raise festering noise which will simply remains it is until a final ruling shall have been reach and handed down by the SC. That means any kind of imputations pertaining to it now are either premature in nature or of no serious consequences like the one Mr. Tatad, et. al. would so loved to befall this administration. Unless there’s evidence of fund abuse amply supported like that of Mr. Tatad’s friend and erstwhile colleague in Martial law years Manong Johnny, et.al. Unless they’re able to do that, no amount of noise not even his so called Transformation Council can convince our people (and i.e. just rightfully so) except those who are already selfishly convinced and whose motives are just in furtherance of their own agenda of sowing lies and intrigues to shake the gov’t. They include the few radical UP students who tried to harm Mr. Abad and with whom Mr. Tatad now like to take advantage of by raising a comical point that they did not hear the kind of incident happening during their Marcos time much less experienced the same treatment when he was…

    • Everytime the yellow regime comes under attack, they bring out the name of the long dead Marcos. If thats the strongest defense they can come up with then they have run out of ammunition. There is no sink that they can invent that they have not yet thrown at the man, and yet they cannot seem to sink his name. The yellow regime is imploding, heed the signs.

  6. victor m. hernandez on

    There is system overload.
    And control system failure. SC has done its job as far as outlwaing PDAF and DAP and all the other usage of special funds. SC orders prosecutorial agencies to do their job. What a joke! Prosecutorial agencies are under the Executive, and also influenced by padrinos in the Legislative. SC doesn’t have the teeth to implement if Executive is not willing. The AFP is also not doing anything as the constitution prescribed. We are living in a cracked earth, it is almost collapsing. Until the next election? And only to elect the next set of cohorts of “lesser evil”, and to fleece he people once more? Hope springs eternal. If lifestyle check is in order, who will be left as whown to be “not a plunderer”. Until now PCGG hs not totally recovered what they should recover. There is system overload, there are not enough reliable government functionary. Is the STAND UP of UP ‘stoning” of Abad overflow to the real world. The business elites who have a lot to lose will not agree to that. They, too, are part of the problem. Talk about inclusive growth and inequality gap, the business elites continue to support this situation. How do we create a clean slate for all?

  7. If this person siting in Malacanang was not the duly elected one, and PCOS has Villar as the true winner, my question to you, Mr. Tatad , then will the gov’t of the Filipino people remove him ? And install Manny Villar.

  8. One of the reasons you will struggle to get change in this country can be found in the response on here from Butch Hiro, he likes to point out you got it wrong as it wasnt in the old testament it was in the new testament.
    Butch so what who cares what testament it was in its what is going on what is important not what testament it came from. Who cares if Francisco Tatad got that wrong, that wasnt the point & you need to concentrate on the point not the quoted testament.
    So butch i hope you understand that.

    • i agree. but you have to get the fact straight if you want to argue the correctness of your claims. don’t you think?

  9. Dominador P. De Guzman on

    The point is DAP PDAF were already declared illegal there is no valid reason to defend it in a forum ANYWHERE specially in UP.

  10. Come on. Nobody now do not know that, since Marcos or even before his time, no fund’s been allocated by whoever reins in the government to cover expenditures aside from those which are specifically itemized in the GAA. Mr. Tatad know this fully well he having been at several times served in the government in several capacities from Mr. Marcos’ time up to Erap’s. The SC decision on PDAF had explained this quite interestingly and, in fact, had equated this to the now infamous “Pork” barrel system but which explanation Mr. Tatad deliberately did not mention. The reason of course is very obvious.

    The PDAF has been demonized precisely because it had been discovered that there was rampant abused that attended it. Particularly, during GMA’s time where rampant corruption, left and right, were committed brazenly right smack to the face of our citizens. Had it not been the case, PDAF or the Pork barrel would have continue to be practiced and our many legislators would not have been treated as they were now and Enrile, JInggoy, and Bong, and I believe many will follow, would not have been detained.

    And, who exactly have brought open that into the attention of our numerous unsuspecting countrymen? The very government now whom Mr. Tatad charges as syndicate. Ironical isn’t it? Now, ask Mr. Tatad when during his time as a member of the rubbers stamp Batasan Pambansa he did not make use of the Pork barrel Mr. Marcos provide in his annual budget and have a total control to give to whomever pleased him? Ask him.

    The only difference and is the only one is the fact that, the Pork barrel system having been in practice since then, have not been so brazenly abused and shamelessly corrupted as discovered it were during GMA’s time compared to previous administrations, including Marcos’ and Erap’s which Mr. Tatad himself under which he may have enjoyed and benefited. The rampant, wanton, and impugn exercise of the fund by some legislators thereof did it. So, this…

    • PDAF during GMA’s time is 7B, under PNOY’s “tuwid na daan” it tripled to more than 20B making the newly enlightened liberal turncoats jump with glee at every malacanang command and much more!

  11. I can’t agree more, we now have one big criminal syndicate masquerading as a government. In the past we had small syndicates, like Napoles. Now we have wholesale organized corruption thanks to the bribes from BS Aquino.

    • Still lol at the inference which, owing to the inability to find sensible things to say and the eagerness to want to say destructive words meant only to attack, inevitably results to absurdities.

  12. The first quarter storm MUST be emulated to beat the syndicates, mobbing and lynching is a good start but nothing compared to their sins . Students should start storming their condos, villas, offices, cars and houses! MAKE THEM FEEL THEYRE NOT SAFE, It is a form of silent revolution that will instill genuine fear to the corrupt.
    I encourage students to do more…..Save You Country! its the only one you got!

    • Why encourage student to do it for us? If you are convinced it’s worth it, then start it from you.

  13. mukhang dapat i-update yung cover page ng isang magazine, biz asia (forgot the name), from congress being the biggest crime syndicate to the philippines being the crime syndicate.

  14. aresyo goodfriend on

    Although I sympathize with the students sentiments, I strongly abhor their physical mistreatment of throwing objects towards Sec. Abad. They can yell, strike, have a rally, , fast, go to court…but physical act such as throwing an object is unacceptable. It can lead to a criminal act.

  15. With all that’s happening in the government today, especially with a subservient congress, I tend to agree that we have a syndicate posing as government. Yet, we have a sitting president who has the audacity to sing his own praises despite obvious failures because of insensitivity, indifference and vindictiveness.

    I hope that Mr. Tatad, other columnists, members of the opposition and everyone, will continue to be vigilant and criticize the government constructively always.

  16. Sixto Brillantes himself has admitted some 2 days ago that the 2010 and 2013 automated elections had been rigged. Mentioned error had to do with the shading. Details are found in the news item published 2 -3 days ago. This means that the Abnoy sitting now in Malacanang is not the duly elected president This further means that he should be booted out of Malacanang because he is an illegal occupant thereat.

    The grand brigandage that the Abnoy inflicted upon the country cannot be fully paid for. The billions of losses from the national treasury to pursue his personal revenge cannot be fully replaced. But for our self-respect, each one of us should stand up to demand just recompense for the violation of our right of suffrage. We must demand the immediate stepping down of this illegitimate president.

  17. correction sir. it was not in the old testament but rather, the new testament. it was during that event where Christ was quoted as saying: he who have not sinned cast the first stone. but even then, i hope abad got more than what he deserves from the university of the philippines students that day.

    • He’s correct, man. Observe the way the sentence has been constructed. He’s never likens the stoning to any other passages except to that which was the customs at the time of the old testament. Aside from that the only instance, I believe, that a stoning actually happened is the one in which the disciple Stephen was the victim.