The mounting pile of ‘Aquinomalies’

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Ricardo Saludo

Ricardo Saludo

Believe it or not, the Aquino administration has surpassed its predecessor in corruption.

Between pork barrel trebling under President Benigno Aquino 3rd to about P25 billion a year, his unaudited, unlegislated and unprecedented releases under the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP, P137 billion as of October 1), and smuggling hitting nearly $20 billion or some P860 billion a year, plus undiminished jueteng, these ‘Aquinomalies’ may already swell to over P200 billion a year.

Those figures easily dwarf the P7.8 billion average annual Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations in the last three years of then-President Gloria Arroyo, the $3 billion-plus in suspected smuggling every year under her and her predecessor Joseph Estrada, and even the P700-million fertilizer scam and the canceled P15-billion ZTE national broadband project.

Let’s look at these numbers one by one.


First, pork barrel. Arroyo allotted P6.2 billion a year in 2008 and 2009, then P10.9 billion in 2010. That’s P7.8 billion a year average. Despite widely known PDAF anomalies, Aquino tripled his predecessor’s average to P24.8 billion a year from 2011 to 2013. Next year P27 billion was budgeted until the pork barrel controversy forced the House to zero the fund and redistribute it to state agencies (all under Aquino’s control, of course).

With no major PDAF reform instituted by Aquino until last month, and the activities of alleged pork barrel operator Janet Lim-Napoles and her ilk unrestrained till her recent troubles, it’s fair to conclude that congressional kickbacks continued well into 2013—and jumped after pork tripled since 2011. How much more? From P22.5 million per congressional district in 2010, PDAF allocations averaged P62.6 million in 2011 and P72.1 million last year.

Malacañang can debunk that argument by having Budget Secretary Florencio Abad open to the Commission on Audit and public scrutiny all documents for pork barrel since 2010. While he’s at it, his Department of Budget and Management should also make available the papers for two-thirds of the P29 billion in pork releases in 2007-09, mainly for lawmakers in Aquino’s camp, which DBM withheld despite repeated COA requests.

But let’s not hold our breath for Abad to come clean. The fact is, if 2010-13 PDAF papers were graft-free, they would have been released for audit long ago to show things changed under Aquino. Ditto for the still-hidden 2007-09 PDAF papers, including his own as senator. If his pork weren’t corrupted, his papers would be out. Instead, they remain under wraps. No prizes for guessing why.

Next, smuggling. Like DBM pork data, contraband figures come from official statistics analyzed by fellow columnist Rigoberto Tiglao, formerly with leading business journal Far Eastern Economic Review. He reported in another paper last December: “Smuggling in the Philippines is at its worst under President Aquino’s administration, with the smuggled value averaging $19.6 billion annually, an explosion from the comparable figures of $3.1 billion and $3.8 billion yearly during the terms of Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, respectively.”

Smuggling is estimated by comparing total exports to a country as reported by its trading partners, against its own tally of imports, both found in the International Monetary Fund Direction of Trade Statistics. If the amount missing from the importing nation’s data is bigger than negligible figures due to errors, that’s smuggling. It means shipments duly reported by exporting countries were not properly tallied at the destination.

Instead, they slipped in without proper papers. In a word, smuggled.

Under Estrada and Arroyo, the total value of exports to the Philippines reported by other countries to the IMF, exceeded the government’s tabulation of imports by over $3 billion a year. But from July 2010 to June 2012, that discrepancy totaled $39.2 billion or $19.6 billion a year—six times the annual average from 1998 to 2010.

Based on 12 percent value added tax and average tariffs of 7 percent, the revenue losses from the $39.6 billion or P1.66 trillion in estimated contraband in Aquino’s first two years, far exceed P300 billion, about one-eighth of total revenue targeted for the period. His last State of the Nation Address affirmed the losses: “ . . . more than 200 billion pesos in revenue slips through our borders without going into public coffers.”

No wonder the Arangkada group of foreign chambers has raised smuggling as a priority issue. Farmers’ groups are also reeling from smuggled foodstuffs, including many billions of pesos in contraband rice. Even the vaunted claim of sufficiency in the staple looks dubious, since falling official grain imports are offset by unreported shipments.

Lambasting customs agents, the SONA cited an even greater damage from contraband: “they are heedlessly permitting the smuggling of goods, and even drugs, arms, and other items of a similar nature . . .”

Yet for all his recent rage, Aquino has never ordered the kind of multi-agency probe into smuggling which he belatedly did with pork barrel, even if contraband losses dwarf PDAF. Not even when more than 2,000 containers vanished in transit between Manila and Batangas ports in 2011. Although customs records clearly pinpoint who released shipments despite hundreds of disappearances, no one was probed, let alone punished for the country’s worst spate of smuggling ever.

Third point of Aquino-Arroyo comparison would have been monies allocated by the President, like the tens of billions of pesos in contigency funds, gaming and lottery revenues, Malampaya royalties, and Aquino’s legally dubious DAP. But this matchup must wait for COA audits of both regimes, not its selective reports on his opponents.

So far, however, based on DBM budget and IMF trade data, the score is: Arroyo, P7.8 billion PDAF a year average, $3.8 billion estimated annual smuggling; and Aquino, P24.8 billion PDAF, $19.6 billion smuggling. At this game level, Aquinomalies win.

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31 Comments

  1. hindi ko lang ma-imagine panu magLagay ng yellow ribbon sa knilang mga #Coffins , kapag namatay na sila??????

    never silang gumamit ng Philippine Flag …,nagpapakitang walang silang pagmamahal sating bansa,kaya siguro ganun na lang sila magpaTakbo ng gobyerno !

  2. Anthony Spilotro 10 on

    Why do these imbeciles claim that it is only now that these open-secret corruption are only being discussed because of this PNoy? If I recall, it all started with a whistle blower from Mrs. Napoles’ camp comparable to Erap’s Chavit Singson. Others make it appear as if the administration conducted an investigation that brought us here.

    I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Saludo’s analysis on Rico Escalona Puno’s analysis regarding jueteng. On the other note, contrary to the usual practice of “protect the king” doctrine, PNoy always personally defends his supposedly alter egos and not the other way around! Isn’t that just pure stupidity!!!

    Selective disclosure is also a principal concern with this administration. For one, good thing that Sen. Poe who used to be with the administration ticket looked into it which paved the way for having it marked as priority bill. Otherwise, PNoy would have concluded his term without even glimpsing on the said bill as it will for obvious reasons going to be very detrimental for him and the other officials in cahoots.

  3. Sana may bumagsak na chemical weapon sa ginta ng round table nila habang nagtatahi sila ng pang depensa.

  4. Manuel T. Garcia Jr. on

    I just want to say “birds of the same feather flock together”.People supporting corrupt doings belong to the same group,my personal opinion.I hope Mr. Saludo I can offer you my SALUTE, if you can write something, for those people without corrupt doings.

  5. Vlad Guevarra, the Php200 billion represents tax that should have been collected out of the Php860 billionw amount of goods smuggled in by people close to Pnoy KKKK. Anderstang?

  6. You’re right, Mr. Saludo, PNoy’s administration may have released more PDAF, Malampaya, PSF, DAP, etc., the only difference is these funds went to projects unlike the previous administration wherein the money went to pockets. Well, the previous admin may just say, “Projects” at “Pockets”, magkatunog lang naman eh, pwede na..

    • I wish we can all be assured that every centavo given out by President Aquino in PDAF, DAP, and other disbursements were honestly spent. The only way to do that is to open those disbursements to the Commission on Audit and public scrutiny, as I mentioned in the article. Unfortunately, as noted in the article, Secretary Abad has withheld from COA the PDAF papers since 2010, plus two-thirds of the PDAF documents in 2007-09, as noted in the article. Only when those papers are released for audit and scrutiny can we say if Aquino’s releases went to projects, not pockets. Thank you.

    • Revolution For The New Philippines on

      Are we sure that COA can still be trusted? Little by little its becoming a scribbling tool for this admin.

    • Then why doesn’t he endorse the FOI bill, so we all can see through their souls. That would bring us a little closer to the TRUTH.

  7. The question is, did Mr. PNOY receive kick back from any NGOS to prove your point?. Do you think he is involved in corruption? He dares you to impeach him, if you have the evidence to prove it. Majority of the Filipinos support and trust him, he is the only president who has the guts to run after these corrupt government officials past and present with unending cry from his opponents of being unfair. I hope that these corrupt officials will someday find their disambiguated path for the good of all and become a force for goodness, but I will not hold my breath on it.

    • Nito,

      You mentioned majority of Filipinos support and trust Noynoy. Pray tell, where did you get this fact? You might want to do some research before publishing such statement. In fact, majority of Filipinos want him out of the office.

    • Meddy Estrella on

      #nito, how sure you are? time and again he blames the previous administration.. filing charges every now and then but what has happened? they lost each case one by one.. have you ever wondered why? isn’t it because they don’t have any evidence against the previous administration? i’m starting to believe that all those cases against those that are not on his side are just pure theatrics to cover up his party mates own wrong doings.. btw i just took notice that those behind him now are the ones behind Estrada who jumps ship to Arroyo and stuck with her during the early part of her term… they only jump abandon her during the latter part of her term aren’t they?

    • The article is about corruption in the Arroyo and Aquino administrations, not anomalies committed by these two leaders themselves. So the data compared is on overall PDAF and smuggling, which are both tarnished by corruption but may not necessarily involve the President. A comparison of past and present Chief Executives will have to wait for judgment in the cases against Arroyo, and any future cases that may be filed once Aquino’s immunity from prosecution ends in July 2016. Thank you.

  8. What a sad day of our country we are being pillage right in our own very eyes. Military are not doing anything, “mga busog na ba kayo ni Noynoy, what a shame…“

  9. I stop reading these plunder/corruption news. The magnitude is just astonishing and confusing to read. Its just another organized crime. Most of us already know the modus operandi (MO) of these crooks and 95% of the government executives and managers are into it. Im just waiting if there is a conviction and jail time for these clowns or just another show they call white wash or if there is a jail time they might be pardoned after a year and released, like what happened to Erap. all they do is buy a wheelchair. then the pityful Filipinos will fall for it. Enrile might die of stroke if he is convicted. But I hope we confiscate most of his ill gotten wealth. PGCG will be busy again.

  10. Ricardo Saludo what is wrong with you. It is only during Pinoy’s time that things become so transparent. Perhaps instead of criticizing the President, why not just support him. Without him, we will never know how corrupt some senators and congressman can be. He may have millions or billions or trillions of fund at his disposal…but he will never enrich himself. He will use the money to better the Philippines. Like his parents, Corrie and Ninoy, Noynoy, is sincere and honest.

    • Wake up and smell the roses. It seems the esteemed president that you highly speak of is in the middle of this corruption mess and is the head of it.

    • It may be good to consider certain facts in judging the President’s reforms.
      On smuggling, back in 2010, he could have slashed it by appointing as Customs Commissioner a proven customs reformer and IMF consultant on customs reform, Guillermo Parayno, whom Aquino interviewed for the job. But he did not.
      On jueteng, also back in 2010, President Aquino could have put the Philippine National Police directly under the late Jesse Robredo, who eradicated jueteng as Naga mayor. Instead, Aquino put the PNP under Undersecretary Rico Puno, whom Archbishop Oscar Cruz accused of being “ultimate recipient” of jueteng payoffs.
      On PDAF, he could have instituted his recent pork barrel reforms back in 2010, instead of waiting until a million Filipinos were ready to march in Luneta last month. But he did not act in 2010. Instead, he tripled PDAF to P25 billion a year without the reforms he belatedly announced two days before the rally.
      As for transparency, this will truly happen when we have a Freedom of Information Law, so that the people can demand information, rather than waiting for the administration to release only what it wants to make public. Thank you.

    • wandering jew on

      transparent? hello??? nobody knew about DAP until Jinggoy mentioned the fund releases in his privilage. kung hindi nagkabukuhan, malalaman ba natin na may DAP? whats wrong with you minions.

    • there is only one obvious reason that i can see, Aquino is the president …he is inept, incompetent and corrupt…

  11. Vlad Guevarra on

    Sir, could you please clarify the figures in the second paragraph. There’s a P860 billion/ year figure attributed to smuggling, and yet the total “Aquinomalies” as you put it, is reduced to “over P200 billion a year”.

    • The P200 billion is the estimated level of corruption, which is less than the total smuggling, since only part of the contraband value is due to the government as taxes and duties. For P860 billion in annual smuggling, the estimated losses in state revenues is about P160 billion. Add to that the estimated corruption in PDAF and jueteng, and it’s about P200 billion a year.

  12. Hmmm, once again a very interesting article. Maybe PNoy should understand his job before he reads what is placed in the teleprompter and just read them in toto. The other day, as every concerned citizen must have read and heard, PNoy once again castigated the Arroyo administration by reading a litany of figures which I am afraid he did not read before, did not reconcile the figures or at best, check on the data’s himself before just reading them. The people in the Philippines today are in the doldrums, poor becoming poorer and the rich, richer and low and behold, the legislators are now multi-millionaires by stealing peoples tax money.

  13. The current tenant of Malacañang now is always blaming the previous administration everytime they face a big issues and will always come up a big story just to distract the mind of the people but I guess this should put to an end. Why always blame somebody wherein the issues happens in the current backyard of Malacañang’s tenant. Sorry to say that I used to be a cory diehard but with her son’s running the show now, I just shook my head with the way he treated people that are not member of his party. The day of reckoning will befall on you and I wish it will be that soon… Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

  14. joebert banderas on

    bakit binulsa ba ni pinoy ang pera? saan ba kayo papanig sa bulok na sestima ng katiwalian na ngayon lng nalalaman sa panahon ni Pnoy dahil cya ang nangunguna sa pagsugpo sa katiwalian,ay naku ilang taon na tayong niluloko panahon pa ni marcos,si Pnoy lang ang may will sa pagsugpo ng katiwalian go go Pnoy susuporta kami sa yo jail the corrupt kung maari firing squad para matakot ang susunod

    • Gaya ng tugon natin kay Nito, patungkol ang sanaysay sa katiwaliang naganap sa dalawang administrasyon, hindi ang mga gawain ng dalawang Pangulo. Malalaman lamang natin kung may ginawang tiwali sina Arroyo at Aquino matapos mahatulan ang mga sakdal kay Arroyo, at pagkatapos ang termino ni Aquino sa Hunyo 2016, kung kailan maaari na siyang ihabla para sa katiwalian. Bago ang hatol kay Arroyo at habang hindi maipagsasakdal si Aquino, paratang lamang ang anumang pahayag na tiwali si Arroyo o si Aquino. Salamat po.