• The imperative for action after the SC decision

    32

    When I speculated on what might follow after the Supreme Court rules that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is illegal and unconstitutional, I weighed various scenarios, such as another EDSA Revolt, the impeachment of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, the mass resignation of his Cabinet, even another superstorm (given our rotten luck), and Aquino’s voluntary resignation.

    But I never imagined that some compatriots would be paralyzed into thinking that leaving the status quo in place is preferable to action to impeach President Aquino. It never occurred to me that some of our so-called political leaders would have the temerity to declare that President Aquino has nothing to answer for, because he authored and authorized the DAP “in good faith.”

    Here we are, gifted with a magnificent and comprehensive High Court decision on an issue of surpassing import to the nation, with far-reaching impact on the future, and yet many of us are confused about their loyalties, and are too blind to see that we face here acts of fundamental immorality, a regime of systematic looting of the treasury, and that, but for the squealing of one senator and the agitation of watchdogs, our country might have been reduced to total bankruptcy.

    Worse, some can’t appreciate the fact that we have here the opportunity of a lifetime for our people to purge the system and banish government by plunder and hypocrisy.

    Escalating arguments on what to do
    This July 2014, we have come to the hour when we must decide how we are going to accomplish this purgation of the system.

    It is profoundly dismaying to witness the escalating arguments on what we should do next, over whether:

    We should immediately launch the impeachment of President Aquino in the House of Representatives, and whether the process will just be a fruitless and divisive exercise;

    Whether Secretary Abad should be forced to resign and hauled to court immediately to answer charges of bribery and malversation of public funds.

    Whether the bribes received by senators and representatives for the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona should be returned to the treasury;

    Whether Commission on Audit chair Grace Pulido-Tan should be impeached and charged for not auditing DAP funds; and

    Whether the Court’s decision on the DAP has unwittingly provided an escape hatch for Aquino and Abad by citing the doctrine of operative facts and musing about “good faith.”

    The smug statement of Malacañang mouthpieces that the administration “has done nothing wrong” has driven many citizens up the wall.

    The blithe suggestion that the people should wait for the end of Aquino’s term in 2016 to make him face his crimes has led to angry exchanges in public and online.

    No one probably is more dismayed about all this than the honorable justices of the Supreme Court who labored to craft a good and unassailable ruling and thought it would help end this national nightmare.

    Well, the hour has come to start the exorcism, or catharsis as I described it in an earlier column.

    There is today, right now, an absolute imperative to action following the SC decision. If the nation fails to act, government would lose the people’s support, and all moral authority to make its decisions effective.

    Let me outline some of the steps that I believe are necessary for the purgation of the system.

    First, I totally agree with the call from all over that as a first and necessary step, there should be a comprehensive audit of the DAP and all its funds, how many billions were put at hazard, where every peso went, to what projects and to whom.

    The staggering amount of P149 billion of taxpayers money makes the audit a compelling necessity. Grace Tan’s policy of selective auditing has no place in this task. She should resign at once, fold up her bid for a seat in the Supreme Court, and take her kahindik-hindik act home. There are many professional people of integrity at the Commission on Audit who can do the job.

    Second, implementing the ruling is a key task of the executive, and should not be a partisan issue. A tourniquet must be applied immediately to stop the flow of money into the DAP program and projects. This will help drain the swamps of corruption.

    But to delay the inevitable, the Palace says it may appeal the ruling. This is pure rubbish. Ignoring the judicial order and lying about the situation will have grave consequences. Even the president has no power to resist the ruling. it has the force of law.

    Third, Impeachment is the constitutional remedy. The impeachment of President Aquino must be faced and faced expeditiously.

    We must stop wringing our hands over this challenge.

    There is a chorus—in the House and the Senate, and even in the media—that impeachment is a risky course for the nation to take at this time. The congressional leadership shrinks from the idea of impeachment because Aquino is their party leader. This is conventional, mercenary and misguided. As the great management theorist-teacher Peter Drucker has observed: “What everyone knows is usually wrong.” When everyone thinks alike, nobody is thinking very much.

    Here’s the stark reality: under our presidential system, impeachment is the sole constitutional remedy for terminating a lawless presidency that has committed impeachable offenses. The parliamentary system is more efficient in removing frailed leaders.

    The power to impeach belongs to Congress. But rather than a power, it’s really more of a responsibility, and Congress should not shirk it.

    As Barbara Tuchman has written, “Political expediency should not take precedence over decency in government.” Otherwise we would be a joke.

    If Speaker Belmonte and other House members insist on playing it as just a game of numbers, the people will not forgive the Liberal party. And history will judge them harshly.

    Belmonte and Drilon should note that the key reason President Aquino lost so dismally in the DAP fight before the Supreme Court, was because he transgressed the separation of powers between the executive and the legislature, and because he usurped Congress’ “power of the purse.” All the violations flowed from this.

    The court decision affirmed this fundamental power of Congress. Congressional leaders should be singing hosannas to the High Court, not protecting Aquino.

    What troubles so many people is that something this criminal and massive as the DAP has been happening in our country over the last four years; it has happened with the complicity of Congress.

    The fact that something this illegal can be excused by party leaders for the sake of party interest is dangerous.

    Partisan politics is not above the rule of law.

    When politicians calculate and choose to defend their leader or their party instead of looking after the interest and welfare of the nation, they are gambling with popular will. The people must take notice and must do everything within their power to make sure that they are represented by better leaders.

    As a fourth step in my imperative to action, Budget Secretary Butch Abad must be immediately indicted for bribery and malversation of public funds.

    The Ombudsman, who has a constitutional office independent of President Aquino, has a constitutional duty to investigate and indict.

    And the Sandiganbayan will have the responsibility to try him.

    We should approach Abad’s indictment as though Abad were like a Nazi war criminal and author of the final solution. The billions of public money he has squandered is the equivalent of the holocaust.

    A great nation, Israel, was born out of the holocaust.

    Who knows, a new Filipino nation may be born out of the ashes of the DAP.

    Finally, there is an international and generational dimension to the decision we take in cleansing our political system and punishing all guilty parties in the DAP anomaly.

    What will it say about our democracy before the world, if in the face of a sound ruling by our Supreme Court, we turn away from holding to account the president of our country? What does it say to future public officials of our government, if we fail to punish all those responsible for these high crimes against the nation?

    It would say to other countries that we are not a nation worthy of their friendship and respect. It would say to future officials that it’s all right to steal from the national treasury.

    yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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    32 Comments

    1. I left the Philippines in 2001 but not after I took to the streets for Estrada’s ouster. Had I been home I would also have done the same thing to get Arroyo out of office. But this I won’t do for Aquino. Marcos, Estrada, and Arroyo raped our government coffers for their own benefit. They flaunted their wealth like money was flowing from a never-ending stream. This I cannot say for this president. Of all the presidents we have had, I believe Aquino is one of the most honest in his dealings with the Filipino people. If he kept the monies in his pockets then by all means he should be investigated. But did he? If these monies were given to senators and congressmen then they should be accounted for by these public officials. The funds were disbursed to members of Congress and other departments. Let them who received and spent the money account for it.
      You gave a detailed report but why do I feel that this piece reeks of bias and partisanship? I could see and smell your vested interest in this. You gave us three courses of action, with 6 paragraphs spent on the impeachment of the president. Two paragraphs for each of the first 2 courses of action, and six (6) paragraphs to prove your point that impeachment is the way to go. And who benefits from the impeachment of the president? BINAY! And what do you suppose is he gonna do? Being allied with Estrada, the latter can now return the favor and ask for the pardon of Arroyo! Then of course there’s the Marcoses! In the end, there will be Marcos, Estrada, Arroyo, and Binay who will be ganging up on the one President who has brought some glimmer of hope to most of us Filipinos. The one President who has managed to make a lot of us believe and hope again that the Philippines can be better. I’m sorry but I’d rather have Aquino than any of your Marcoses, Estradas, Arroyos and Binays.

    2. Violence can only breed violence. Let us be reminded when solders arrested Jesus and his disciples asked: “Lord, shall we use the sword?” One of them went so far as to strike the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. Jesus said in answer to their question, “Enough!” (Cf. Lk 22; 49 ff.). I agree with those who suggest to use our votes in quelling any move of our enemies to further harm us – those very persons we wrongly elected so they could serve and protect our very rights to live in peace, to achieve prosperity under the Constitutions of our land. We have two movements at our disposal: PPCRV to educate the voters, and NAMFREL to guard the sanctity of our votes. Both movements operate through volunteerism. What are we waiting for? Our country is counting on YOU and ME, on all of us, for that matter.

    3. Migs Doromal on

      A bloody coup d’etat is much desirable. This nation deserves a RESET sans the corrupt politicians and oligarchs who continue to prop them in order to rape and plunder for their own selfish gain our coffers and resources.

      A coup is a good start.

    4. teresa mallari on

      The worst thing a nation can do is not to vent out its anger over its leaders but to become indifferent. To harbor feelings of frustration and anger is a positive thing because we are hurt and long for concrete solution to our grievances. When we have reached that feeling of lost hope and nonchalant attitude as to what is happening, that is when we should start to worry because it is a.manifestation that we have lost hope and given up on everything our nation stands for. Although i would not easily suggest resorting to people power. It is an overrated band-aid solution which led us to nowhere. Let us start with education and awareness by explaining to our community in the simplest way we can of the issues we are now facing.and.make.them realize.that.their vote is essential for change. Let us not rely too much on media to do that. I’m being ideal but it’s a good start.

    5. Maliwanag pa sa buwan na ang dahilan ng ating kahirapan ay dahil sa DAP at PDAF na kinamkam taon taon sa kaban ng ating bayan. Milya milya na sana ang ating kaunlaran at matagal na sana tayong nakaraos sa kahirapan kung ang mga pondong ito ay talagang nagamit para sa kaunlaran ng ating bayan. Kaya dapat lang nating panagutin ang mga taong sangkot sa pagkamkam sa pondong ito. Makasarili sila at walang pagmamahal sa ating bayan. Pukawin natin ang ating sarili at manindigan. Huwag magkibit balikat lang. Siguraduhin nating huwag silang iluluklok uli sa pwesto sa mga susunod na halalan, alang lang sa mga susunod nating henerasyon..

      • Lumalabas a alibi ay walang alam si panot sa ginagawa ng cabinet niya,pero dinedepensahan niya ang mga ito,WTF1.Averybody in the position right now dapat depensahan ang lider of the pack or sabit sila.Ang senado ay inutil dahil hawak sila sa leeg ng FDAP kaya kung tutuusin lang ay ang executive at judiciary lang ang tunay na sangay ng gobyerno.Congress ay salimpusa lang o panggulo gaya ng nangyari ke corona.. Abolished the congress now

    6. Mr. Makabenta:

      I thank you for a VERY poignant and well-researched article. KUDOS!

      I agree wholeheartedly that the current regime should be fully prosecuted.

      May the will and best interests of the people be always at the forefront.

    7. When we say DAP… this is no difference on PDAF. “IT WAS BOTH DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL”! If we say accountability this is also no difference calling to penalize former presidents who approved the PDAF. If we say bring back the money of DAP fund… It is no difference calling to return of trillions of PDAF funds. PDAF is more culprit than DAP. Imagine pinag-uusapan ang pondo ng PDAF sa kongreso at senado. Pagkatapos pinirmahan ng pangulo! Illegal din pala. Ilang dekada ang panloloko sa atin ng PDAF?
      So if you can’t say something against PDAF… Then you have no right to say something against DAP! Mas masahol ang PDAF na taos puso ninyong tinanggap kaysa sa DAP!!!
      Galit lang kayo kay Pnoy dahil sa mga kamay niya winakasan ang PDAF at DAP! Isama nyo na rin sa galit ang pagpapakulong niya ng mga kakampi ninyong senatongs!
      Kaya walang umiimik sa kongreso at senado dahil alam nila sila mismo nabuhay sa illegal na PDAF. Hindi ba maliwanag ito??? Wala ni isa sa kanila ang malinis para akusahan ang DAP…
      The only triumph of Filipino people… PDAF and DAP were dead during Aquino administration. The root of all corruption ended! We should say thanks to the President!!!

    8. This is just a wish:
      1. I wish that PNoy would ask an IT expert to create a website tagged as DAP Documents;
      2. I wish that all the documents such as the following be posted in the said website:
      a. List of “savings” impounded by the DBM, with details as to what project the savings came from, what year, status of the project and total amounts of savings for 2011 and 2912; (We can get a copy of the 2011 and 2012 GAA to verify these items)
      b. List of projects funded by DAP in 2011, 2012 and 2013 with details such as project amount, locality, government implementing agency, status of completion etc.
      c. Scanned copies of ALL documents relating to the releases of DAP as per (b) above, including approval letters;
      3. The data and information in such a website would be significant and would require a lot of data storage, so perhaps the website could be resided in the cloud;
      4. Let the website be made available to all, especially the accountants and auditors;
      5. Let the any findings by accountants and auditors be admitted through email.
      Accountants and auditors like me should be able to organize ourselves to tackle the audit and analysis from such data and information.
      6. Finally, let Abad and Aquino certify to the completeness, correctness validity and accuracy of ALL the information submitted in the website.
      I wish this would happen, but that is only me, wishing.
      Regards, Al San

    9. I salute Mr. Yen Macabenta and all other Journalists for their fearless and honest crusading efforts to expose the numerous sins of President Aquino, Abad, et al. I abhor to think that this administration is heading to nowhere, %%##@@@****.

    10. The impeachment of Abnoy is now really imperative. But the sovereign people should take over the reign of governemnt after the impeachment and conviction of Abnoy by putting into place people with known integrity and have not been elected nor appointed into a government poisition whatsoever. The new government should be filled up by new people or retain career executives with unblemished records Binay should not be allowed to come into power because he is a clone and a stooge of Abnoy.

    11. Ignorant philippine electorate ……… You all deserve the government that you now have. In the first place, you voted for these officials…..so what are you all complaining
      about ?

    12. Manny F. Reyes on

      Let’s not make a mountain out of an ant hill, guys. Punishment should also be commensurate with the bad behavior.

    13. Havent you all seen it yet, tell me which politician has ever accepted he did wrong & actually accepted responsibility & the consequences. Take sotto, he was ( is ) a plagiarist & yet has never accepted he was wrong, none of them ever will. When they thought of this dap they kbnew it was wrong but they also know the law & apparently the law is if it was done in good faith its not breaking the law. See how they already protected themselves. Do you think if any of us were charged with any crime & we tried to use good faith as an excuse, they would just laugh at us. They would tyell us ignorance of the law is no excuse & if you thought good faith was right then you should have also checked first to make sure good faith wasnt needed, but in their case its different as they are honourable men & women & we arnt. They actually believe they are better than us & should be allowed to do as they wish & without consequences.

      • the word ” good faith” is the loophole of the law,that’s why the other bills never became a law

    14. gising pinas on

      You need an “armed” component to be succesful Mr. Yen.
      People or “mouth” power” will not work here.

    15. It is not a miracle to impeach Pnoy, jail Abad and there accomplices. Looking at things now after the Supreme Court declaring DAP as unconstitutional would give these looters of public funds a hard time in devising new ways in stealing money to bribe their allies in Congress. Only a matter of planning and concerted effort, even of a handful right thinking and patriotic citizenry, would win their case. Tactically, you file a case in courts against A’bad and accomplices. For Pnoy file and impeachment case, now 2015 and in 2016, an election year. this way you drain and exhaust their resources. Their “allies” will abandon them if no bribe-money is forthcoming and it would be a “kiss of death” for politicians to be identified with Pnoy comes 2016..

    16. Thank u very much, mr yen,kaya lang marami pa rin utak linta at oud ang naniniwala na sa isang 100 million pilipino wala pueding pumalit sa autistic president, na kakapang lumo na marami paring panatiko ang nagtatanggol,ayaw isip ang ikabubuti ng bayan,parang mga bulag na tagahanga, lalo na samga yellow elitista atmedia,kailan kaya mawawala angpartisan at mangibabaw ang katwiran,sana ngayon na!para maging maayos ng mag-umpisa ng tama ang bansa!! NGayon ang araw!!

    17. It is indeeed very surprising that Congressional leaders are in fact DEFENDING Aquino and Abad after their usurping the THEIR OWN FUNCTION of Congress!
      How corrupt and feckless can these members of Congress be?

      Bravo to you Mr. Macabenta – keep up your crusade – we need to reform the political system of the country!

    18. Yes, House Speaker Belmonte’d opposition in the filing of impeachment resolution against PNoy makes his Liberal Party answerable to the people. All of PNoy’s shenanigans were all done for the LP’s and his political supporters’ selfish interests. Our country’s political leaders have not yet reached the level of maturity as true statesmen. PNoy, Belmonte, Drilon, Roxas and the other clowns of the LP should remember what Pres. Manuel L. Quezon said that ” My Loyalty to my Party Ends Where My Loyalty to My Country Begins’.

    19. Samuel Santos on

      President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III, must do what is most honorable: Voluntarily resign.

    20. Diehard Batang on

      An excellent and well-researched article. However, it’s reek with obvious partisanship as the author/writer(who I believe is a staunch oppositionist) would hurl negative criticism and would look the other way instead of appreciating a strong and vibrant economy, i.e. favorable GDP, lower unemployment, increasing inflow of foreign investments, He would lambast a sitting but good performing president who has the moral and political resolve to jail allegedly corrupt senators and their cohorts. Since you mentioned that the SC on their decision on DAP “unwittingly” ( do you really believe the collective great minds of the justices would do this?) provided a hatch escape by citing the doctrine of operative acts, allow me to cite SC RULING 16 CITYHOOD LAWS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.Upon reexamination, the Court finds the motions for reconsideration meritorious and accordingly reinstates the 18 November 2008 Decision declaring the 16 Cityhood Laws unconstitutional………………………………………………………………………………………….
      Only the effects of the implementation of these unconstitutional laws are left undisturbed as a matter of equity and fair play to innocent people who may have relied on the presumed validity of the Cityhood Laws prior to the Court’s declaration of their unconstitutionality. This is clearly a precedent case and I totally that the DAP releases and subsequest accounting should be comprehensively audited. Please give me your thoughts on this.

    21. P. Lorenzo. on

      It seems that Pres. B .S, Aquino and his cohorts, Speaker Belmonte and Sen. Pres. F. M. Drilon, have all their own justifications and the power to avoid any further action against the primary responsible DAP (and PDAF) wrongdoers. This is despite the crystal clear ruling by the SC on its illegality and previous personal acts and circumstances of the president and his henchman which negate and belie ‘good faith’ on their part. Perhaps, momentarily, they can assuage the Filipino people with the ‘daang matuwid’ but, truly, the respect of other nations will not be there, because the Philippine government does not take seriously its constitution anyway. It’s more of politics as usual redounding to a big joke. Unlike Singapore which strictly adhere to its laws, we will not have the respect of other nations, big and small. In a way,why do we expect others to respect us (our laws), when we do not even respect ourselves.

    22. All Senators to whom DAP funds were given, in addition to their PDAF funds, by President Aquino, for whatever incentives to them (to convict Corona), must be investigated and prosecuted criminally if it turns out that the DAP funds were misused or personally pocketed as commission, bribed or kickback for voting to convict Corona. Aquino gave them the DAP funds , though obviously as bribed, was for the purpose of “stimulating the economy” which means to redound for the peoples welfare and NOT as personal allowance or bonus of the Senators. If the DAP funds were misappropriated for each Senators own personal enrichment, then they must be prosecuted for plunder if Fifty Million and over, or for anti-graft or malversation, and if convicted be imprisoned and disqualified from holding any public office. Aquino thru his pCityeople in DOJ must immediately investigate and prosecute these Senators and Congressmen who received and misused their DAP funds. Abad as the main culprit and enforcer of DAP funds must be indicted and jailed for illegally juggling and malversing public funds.
      Jun Adan
      New Yorik City

      • Diehard Batang on

        A very insightful comment. Please refer to my previous comment on the effects of acts prior to the SC decision of the unconsitutionality of DAP. Abad is much pilloried and crucified but his acts should be “undisturbed” as a matter of equity and fair play……………….. 16 Cityhood Laws declared unconsitutional by SC. FYI

    23. One good reason that until today there are still many King of Pork PNoy protectors is because he has also bribed and rewarded his defenders and protectors. If one take notice, many of these men and women are from the Senate and Lower House, those of who benefited the most of peoples hard earned tax money. Of course the still, yellow tards, as one blogger wrote are always there to be PNoy’s buffer. But are we not suspecting that all these yellow tards also partook of the money from the government? Big possibility.

      • Diehard Batang on

        Being accused as a yellow tards, allow me to introduce myself. I am a retired Fil Am leaving my contented life here in Belgium after a fulfilling professional life in the USA. Never invloved myself in politics and PI government. Did you educate yourself and read why DAP was created? Likewise check where the funds were spent, legitimate projects, such as schools, infrastructures, hospitals, healthare, social services, etc…Now,if the President, senators, congressmen, cabinetmen pocketed or benefited financially on DAP releases, then they should be tried criminally. COA will be tasked to do its role in auditing all these fund releases and let’s wait before prejudging anyone.Though I could sympathize with you and most bloggers on this site for being blinded by highly negative print and broadcastmedia (like this writer) who almost always supplied the citizenry of half-truths and bias reporting to protect their vested interests, I honestly believe RP has a good-performing and honest president vis a vis:
        a) Arroyo and her husband Mikey who.corrupted almost all branches of govt from fertilizer scam, NBN ZTE deal, second hand helicopters and various illegal contracts at DPWH thru his Interior sec Puno and many more;
        b) Estrada-need I say more
        c) Marcos?

        I realized and is saddened by the fact that we are a minority here but will still strive to be an independent alternative to an otherwise unfair and biased reporting.

        A concerned, independently involved and diehard Filipino.

    24. Alejo Rosete on

      The COA should audit the DAP to save the country – not to save ABAD

      Congress should impeached the President to save the country – not to save the President

      Otherwise, the people get enraged and the country will burn to flame to become a new
      born country like Israel.

      COA and Congress – do your job before it is too late. Save the Country and not the President and Abad.

    25. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

      The todays report of Mr. Makabenta is well taken and appreciative of its contents.
      Yes, you are abosolutely correct Mr. Makabenta, how do we stand now in the eyes
      of the world if we as a nation and as people, we cannot not even punish these
      corrupt officials who stole the money of the people. If we cannot even command
      discipline in this country. Laughing stock of the world. Mr. Tatad too in his column
      yesterday said that impeachment at this time may not be effective tool to remove
      these criminals in government like abnoy and abad but if we as people really
      want to correct the wrong that was deliberately committed against us, then we
      as sovereign people must unite and do something appropriate at this. Unless, we
      want to stay status quo that is these criminals like abnoy and abad can just continue
      looting the treasury of this government. If that is so, then we must prepare ourselves
      to carry the brunt of a corrupt government. If that is soo, then we must be prepared to
      be the laughing stock of the world and that we as people does not deserve the respect
      of any human being. If that is soo, then we as people does not even deserve the pants
      that we wear. That is if we are not capable of punishing the people that wrong us.
      Thereofe, I call upon these whose responsibility is to protect the people like the
      military, like the Catholic Church, the Iglesia ni Cristo, and all other peace loving
      people to do their share if only to restore the respect and thrust of the world. .

      • For the good of our country i think we should be fair in our reporting, we should be honest and sincere to what we report to the masses. As what i observed the writer is bias on his reporting all are negative. Let the lightning struck to every person who make our country divided.