That’s Abad: Yolanda funds and DAP-like maneuver to finance new pork

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I continue to be astonished at how deviously ingenious this government can be in its obsession to keep Congress under its thumb.

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On November 19, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the pork barrel system (officially termed “Priority Development Assistance Fund) was unconstitutional, ordered it stopped immediately, and banned any such future pork barrel schemes. Only P10.2 billion of the P24.8 billion allocated for it under the 2013 budget law could be released.

President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd faced a politically catastrophic situation. While his yellow crowd worshiped him as a messiah, most of the hard-nosed members of Congress—especially those who knew him when he was still their underperforming colleague— hardly respected him as a leader and never thought he should be president.

But they can be counted on to continue supporting Aquino so long as he holds the purse for their pork barrel funds. This is government money that the congressmen could use to build up political support in their bailiwicks, or to skim money off a la Janet Lim Napoles.

Without the pork barrel bribe, Congress wouldn’t give Aquino the time of day. The other mechanism for raising bribe money, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) had to be closed down after Senator Jinggoy Estrada in September 2013 exposed it for what it was—a mechanism to bribe senators into removing Chief Justice Renato Corona from his post.
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Aquino’s wily Budget Secretary, Florencio Abad, invented a new type of pork barrel and initially called it, “Bottom-Up Budgeting” (BUB) for “Priority Poverty Reduction Projects.” When somebody pointed out that this sounded like ‘bottoms-up,’ which connotes a celebration (something its critics could rightly pounce on as a celebration of the return of pork barrel), Abad renamed it “Grassroots Participatory Budgeting” (GPB).

As I had explained in my column on Monday, the GPB is nothing but the pork barrel system, channeled to the municipalities and city districts represented by each district congressman.

It is not coincidental that the GPB allocation for 2014 of P20 billion purportedly for projects in 1,225 municipalities and cities calculates, excluding those given to cities, to roughly P80 million for each of the 234 district representatives, just a bit bigger than the P70 million allocated to each congressman in past PDAFs. (For 2015, the proposed budget is P21 billion for 1,595 municipalities and cities.)

It was designed that way. There was even a formula of roughly P15 million for each municipality as most congressmen, whether they are the lone representatives or among several, represent five to six municipalities.

How could Abad and his boss President Aquino undertake such a massive program that’s merely pork barrel in new clothes, when the budget laws in 2014 and 2015 didn’t contain such a program? Note that previous appropriations laws had a specific section for the pork barrel system titled “Priority Development Assistance Fund.”

A key to this mystery is Abad’s National Budget Memorandum No. 121 dated March 18, 2014, which explained mechanisms for the GPB projects, and said that these would be funded out via two authorizations.

The first authorization claimed was the Congress Joint Resolution No 1 dated December 26, 2013, which extended to the end of 2014 “unobligated allotments/unreleased appropriations” under the 2013 budget.”

But that joint resolution provided that the validity of such unused funds from the 2013 budget was extended in order to implement “priority programs and projects in calamity-stricken areas,” damaged by the typhoons of the past two years, the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, the Zamboanga City violence, and especially Supertyphoon Yolanda.

The rationale for the resolution was mainly the fact that the central government had moved too slowly to use the funds under its 2013 Calamity and Quick Response Funds, and thus, would merely be reverted back to the National Treasury.

That means Abad has funded the P20 billion GPB projects partly out of funds Congress intended to be used only for the calamity-hit areas.

The two areas most severely hit by Supertyphoon Yolanda were Central and Eastern Visayas. How much did Abad allocate to these two regions? About P3.8 billion, just 18 percent of the amount Congress authorized to be used for calamity-hit areas.

No wonder not enough funds have gone into areas all but destroyed by Yolanda in Leyte and Samar.

To be sure that he gets the funding for the new pork barrel system, Abad in his memo said the second authorization for the 2014 new-style pork barrel was the “2014 Appropriations under Republic Act 10633 (GAA for FY 2014).”

Read that Republic Act and there could be a crime there which an independent Congress or the Commission on Audit would unravel in the future: A “Bottom-Up Budgeting” is nowhere in the law, and neither is GPB.

RA 10633, both the copies posted on the Official Gazette and on the budget department’s website, had 46 main chapters, the last one on “Unprogrammed Funds.”

But in the budget department’s “Details of the 2014 Budget,” there is an extra 47th chapter added, titled “Bottom-Up Budgeting,” the initial name of the GPB. Click on that item, and there is that document, without any explanation, “FY 2014 Bottom-Up Budgeting List of Priority Poverty Reduction Projects” for 1,225 municipalities and cities costing P20 billion.

Abad simply took the P20 billion allocations to district congressmen in the original PDAF section in the proposed 2014 law, which was deleted when the Court had ruled the pork barrel illegal, and then put it in that “Bottom-Up Budgeting” section of the “Details of the 2014 Budget.” I’m sure though that he will use this same argument he had used to justify the DAP, that it is just a process, not a budgetary item, which the Supreme Court shot down as a fatuous explanation

But there is no Congress resolution that authorized the “Bottom-Up Budgeting” program that would spend P20 billion in taxpayers’ money.

Congress approved the budget a week after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional on November 19, and Aquino signed it into law—minus the PDAF section—on practically the last day of the working year, Dec. 20.

That such a specific allocation is required is shown in the case of the 2015 proposed budget. In it, the budgets for each of the 14 departments and agencies with projects on the local level had a special provision that a specified amount would be used “exclusively for the implementation of GPB Projects identified” in the table annexed to the budget.

That’s Abad, undertaking another DAP-style fund-juggling, riding roughshod over Congress with its sole power to allocate taxpayers’ money.

This is plainly illegal, another case of technical malversation after the DAP crimes that will hound this President and his budget secretary when they’re out of power.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
FB: Bobi Tiglao

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13 Comments

  1. Mr. Tiglao, your opinion “That’s Abad…” is as usual, thought-provoking, inducing even some of readers to compare both Abad and PNoy to Caligula, the most tyrannical Emperor known in Roman history. To Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed his Master, Jesus Christ. Then, there is Pinocchio (Tupas). I simply don’t blame them, for I, too, have found something to add: King Midas, a legendary king who personified greed, and who considered money was all one needed to be happy. When “the final curtain fell” Caligula ended up one of the most loathed emperor in history; Judas Iscariot so regretted what he did that he hanged himself; Pinocchio’s nose grew longer every time he said a lie; and King Midas? Well, everything he touched turned into gold, including his only daughter. Luckily, he entered into his senses and repented for giving in to avarice and greed. The legend said that he later shared his wealth to his needy subjects and henceforth lived happily ever after. I wish and pray that PNoy and Abad would, with heaven’s help, be converted and make restitution before the final reckoning, for reckoning there will certainly be!!!

  2. How can Abad get away with it continuously? I mean, he just changed the name to GPB. Is he that smart and powerful? Worse, nobody from our Congressmen is raising a howl. They approved and passed the budget with nary a fight from them. Why?

  3. How could abad and aquino do such act of abused for the Filipino people?. Using hard earned money from taxpayers for personal aim to stay longer in power? There must be better ways to use public funds for the benefit of the people with proper accounting. Im sure public coffer will be totally empty whey they leave office. Such a bunch of animals is leading the country into destruction. Sad to say.

  4. Sagad sa buto ang kasakiman ni PeNoy at aBAD! We will not forget; we will not forgive unless given the justice. These include pigheaded Drilon, Pinnochio Tupas, and the other members of LP[ Lapian ng mga Panloloko]. Kung si Ninoy ay ” Hindi ka nagiisa”; si PeNoy ay ” Hindi ka nagiisip”.

    • sagad sa buto ha? bigyan ng jacket si Red baka atakihin sa puso sa pagiging bulag pipi at bingi….

  5. Abad, a lawyer, is only good for nothing. Except those whose skins are as scaly as his, I do not know how his peers faithful to their practice in the profession regard him. He is an outcast, so low that literally he is headless when he walks the street but apparently, he ignores it so long as his pockets are full. While Pnoy is the modern day Caligula, Abad is Judas Iscariot willing to betray his BOSS even for some pieces of brass coins.

  6. Keep your eagle eye on the budget. Abad is clever in hiding the pork. We need to stop the pork funds and cut off the corruption.

  7. Manila Times , please re-publish the Oct 3 ,2013 article of Mr Tiglao titled ” DBM data confirm 100 mllion pesos bribe to 16 Senators ” Just to remind Filipino voters that any of those Senators and also Congressmen who only run for office has intentions or purpose to run only for personal interest minus the welfare of our country and its people. Some of them will run for President and this article will be a reminder, who they really are, this coming election

    • yes i agree with the suggestion to re-print say every month the said article of mr tiglao till election day in 2016 so the people would not forget. pinoys are generally ‘makakalimutin’ thus we are in this predicament. remember the words of that u.p. prof – ‘you don’t elect a president because his mother died’ PLS DO THIS AS A PUBLIC SERVICE

  8. Mr Tiglao, pls read an article published on Sept 2,2014 by Daniel Wagner on World Post titled ” Can the Philippines afford a single term of Aquino in office ?

  9. An accurate observation indeed. The legislathieves who were with mischievous PNoy when he was Representthief and later Senathief never had any respect for him as a legislator because he was a non-performer, incompetent and probably have no clue what to be a Congressman or a Senator is. Now those who snubbed him are the same persons who now sing alleluya’s to him, pull his legs and never hesitates to lick his balls. Now that PNoy holds public money by his lonesome, the same legislators swear their forever admiration and love for PNoy and since this mischievous man also wants his ball licked, he continues to reward them with public money.

  10. gabriela silang on

    a bad idea from a bad secretary. and as we know by now, old abad habits never die…or he and aquino will be dead. aquino and abad badly need the pork to keep them going. no wonder the impeachment complaint was abruptly junked by the yellow army in congress. they ought to or no pork will be forthcoming. give it to abad. he’s got a reservoir of ideas to keep the congs on hold. but for how long will be determined come 30 june,2016.keep gobbling while you can! the end is near. and so you’ll face the final curtain.