‘The National Treasury belongs to our citizens’

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In a speech (President Aquino’s weird DAP speech) that consisted of 3070 words and took an hour to deliver, this is the only statement/sentence that is truthful and unassailable.

It is perhaps the one point on which all Filipinos can agree— Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and his detractors included.

It’s a measure of the speech’s impact that it has become almost as much discussed as the Supreme Court decision on the DAP that it criticized.

Readers who want to check for themselves, will find the statement embedded in this paragraph in the speech:


“My conscience cannot bear this. I cannot accept that our countrymen will be exposed to danger because I let the process of bringing them assistance be unduly extended. Let us remember: The National Treasury belongs to our citizens.”

Crossing the red lines
As worded, the statement is pedestrian. Far better and more presidential for Aquino to say “The national Treasury belongs to our people (or the nation).”

But it is typically PNoy, because Aquino of all our presidents is artless, drab, and bereft of style.

The fact that the sentence can be found in the address at all will probably surprise many, as it did me. Because everything else in the speech consisted of false claims, whinings for sympathy, threats, and non-sequiturs.

The statement is the nearest thing to an admission by the President, and presumably by his Sancho Panza Butch Abad, that the billions they had juggled and played with in the DAP came from the National Treasury, and that those monies belonged to the people and the nation, and must be expended with the greatest care and in accordance with law.

Until this, we have been at a loss to find one single indication that Aquino and Abad were in the least concerned that their invention and implementation of the DAP would be crossing red lines clearly defined in the Constitution and the General Appropriations Act for every fiscal year. It never occurred to them to ask the President’s legal counsel and the Executive Secretary, through whom such papers must pass.

They have never publicly declared or admitted that monies placed in the DAP chute have come from the national treasury. In all this time, according to former National treasurer Leonor Briones, established procedures in the handling of treasury funds were deliberately set aside. The incumbent National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon was reduced to an onlooker, never affixing her signature to the gigantic checks that were issued to DAP beneficiaries and projects.

Constitutional order in handling of public money
Aquino’s statement on the treasury could be a smoking gun that shows he was aware about the grave implications of the DAP. This will be detrimental to the defense of good faith which he and other top administration officials will likely invoke if and when they are haled to court on charges with respect to the DAP.

Aquino knew the grave importance of all funds in the national treasury. He had a rudimentary understanding of the budget process, and the meaning of accountability of public officials including himself.

In ruling on the DAP and the PDAF, the Supreme Court could not be more emphatic in underscoring the normal constitutional order in handling public money.

As Fr. Joaquin Bernas has written, “The first destination of money coming in for the public, either as taxes or other forms of income, is the public treasury. And such money stays in the treasury until Congress determines how it is to be used.

“As the Constitution says, “No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.” The appropriation can be either through the general appropriations law or through special appropriations. This provision prevents members of Congress, and the President, from indiscriminately spending unappropriated money.

With the DAP, it is clear according to the SC decision that the administration went way beyond what the Constitution prescribes, and what the GAA for 2011, 2012 and 2013 authorized.

Again and again, the majority opinion penned by Justice Lucas Bersamin enumerates in detail how laws and procedures were violated, and how the government’s arguments in defense of the DAP failed to persuade the court.
 
A budget within a budget
Perhaps the most damning observation of all was justice Arturo Brion’s comment in his concurring and separate opinion, that the administration through the DAP created a “budget within a budget.”

He wrote:

“By facilitating the use of funds not classified as savings to finance items other than for which they have been appropriated, the DAP in effect allowed the President to circumvent the constitutional budgetary process and to veto items of the GAA without subjecting them to the 2/3 overriding veto that Congress is empowered to exercise.

“Additionally, this practice allows the creation of a budget within a budget: the use of funds not otherwise classifiable as savings disregards the items for which these funds had been appropriated, and allows their use for items for which they had not been appropriated.”

Public officials should go and fall if they must
The statement that probably sent shivers down the spines of President Aquino and Butch Abad were these tough and uncompromising words of Justice Brion, which underline the public accountability that our Constitution has enshrined:

“Institutions are irreplaceable but public officials are not and should go and fall if they must.

“This is the type of action that will enhance transparency and public accountability. That those who erred must suffer is a consequence that evildoers should have foreseen even before they undertook their illegal and unconstitutional act.”

* * *

In closing, I want to reiterate a point I briefly sketched in my previous column.

In the three branches of government are reposed a trinity of powers:

1. Legislature (Congress) : The power of the purse.

2. President (commander-in-chief): The power of the sword.

3. Supreme Court (Judiciary): The power of judgment

As in sports, the judge’s or referee’s decision is final.

So we know who will have the last word.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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20 Comments

  1. victor m. hernandez on

    Trinity of powers, a stable arrangement. A triangle, a stable geometric structure: it has a base and a top where everything converge. P-Noy administration’s prefers a sraight line (as in ‘daang matuwid’, kuno), two points connecting point A to point B. Just like DAP it was conceived by two persons, Sec. Abad and P-Noy, rushing to spend people’s money without the necessary appropriation of Congress. As in this case, if you connect the two, you have a flat configuration, an AbNoy fiscal management, which makes them fall flat on their faces. Now they are all over the places trying to justifiy a constitutionally unjustifiable acts. If we remember a cardinal sin, the number one is Pride, and an overweening pride is Hubris. If one is not readty to admit mistakes, he can never correct himself. Only a humble person accept mistakes. The Supreme Court has made its judgment on DAP and its practices (13-0), putting a stop to it. Pero si Sec. Abad and P-Noy, HUmihirit pa rin! Ngayon abala ang bagong AFP Chief of Staff sa pag-iikot upang pa-kalmahin ang mga sundalo. Mas malala pa kay Glenda ang ginawa nina AbNoy. O Dios mio, patawarin mo po kami.At iadya mo po kami sa kapahamakan. Amen +

  2. Democracy bro democracy even the supreme is not shielded to counter opinion of others.

  3. Yes most of the Filipino citizens wants President Aquino to handle the government treasury, he can be trusted.

  4. Lots of commentary Mr. Makabenta. Why not help our readers understand a true meaning of public service which our presidents and his cabinet were doing. This is the only cabinet that fights corrupt officials like the sending of trio senators who were being tried for plunder to jail. That is the very reason why we have a credible supreme court under the stewardship of Chief Justice Sereno. Are you not happy with that??? Or you are the same with the trio? Every things false into places right now. You are not seeing a broader perspective why this happens. Good Governance will happen after you have been subjected to this kind of criticism it will polished you how righteous you are at the end. Believe me GOD has it hand even to you. Use your knowledge to depend the good deeds.

    • Edith Gerona on

      lester cea,

      if you choose to ignore the clear and undeniable facts of the unconstitutionality of the DAP created by sec. Abad and approved by president Aquino, that is your own look out. But people like me who wants the Filipino people to know the truth is thankful of the writings of mr. Yen Makabenta . I request you not to use the God’s name to twist the truth in DAP’s favor. That is really blasphemous of you, mr. lester cea.

    • Benigno KUHA-KO AKIN-NA on

      This is the only fighting corruption? Pee-NOY administration is the most corrupt government in the world. As regards Sereno, why don’t she stand up and defend the Supreme Court. She is obviously Pee-NOY ‘s lackey. By the way, never use God because KARMA is now working against Pee-NOY.

    • How can a crooked line sets for a straight line! That’s impossible. This is what the current administration is undertaking. Yen Makabenta’s editorial has further illustrated a crooked line trying to draw a straight line.

  5. Johnny Ramos on

    Very obvious Senator Drillon is putting words in the mouth of Abad what to say. Parang lawyer na siya ni Abad. I wonder why did senate investigate the Dap when they will only say these were done in good faith. The should investigate the contractors who handily got this juicy contract fro DPWH. I bet none of these contractors are new in the field. It will be impossible to be awarded a contract in DPWH unless you have the mandate of these senators and congressmen. Hindi pa nagbabago ang kalakaran na 20 percent sa senator o congressman. 10 percent advance pag labas ng saro at balance pag labas ng NCA. Let us not be naive, Pnoy will get away with Dap because we allowed him to control both houses.

  6. why is it that every single branch of government is accountable for properly disbursing their budgets and the Supreme Court can step whenever it sees fit but the Supreme Court itself seems to be immune to any scrutiny by anyone EXCEPT by the Supreme Court itself???? Are the justices and employees of the Philippine Supreme Court still subject to the laws of the nation???

  7. Horacio B. Freires on

    A great article defining clearly to the public the Presidential violation in the use of the money of the people using DAP. .

    Hindi savings e. . galing ang pera sa kinancell nyang projects ni GMA. . yet dinecrare na savings daw (and it’s deliberate. not in good faith). .Hindi ibinalik sa National Treasury. . Pa-sekretong pinang-bribe sa senators & member of the Lower House of Congress to ensure the impeachment & conviction of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. . para makaganti sa pag-distribute ng Supreme Court sa poor farmers ng mga lupa sa Hacienda Luisita na they own kuno….DAP (a people’s money pinangbayad sa pamilya niya na wala sa proper procedure. . and yet they still control the Hacienda). . . .

    A CLEAR ABUSE OF POWER. . A CLEAR VIOLATION OF PUBLIC TRUST. . .INDEED AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE. .

    If Congress fails deliberately to put this 99% good-for-nothing President (1% good is that he defeated Erap in the presidential election due to his parents popularity). . WE BETTER CONSIDER ABOLISHING CONGRESS. . ALSO ANOTHER GOOD-FOR-NOTHING INSTITUTION…

    Thru DAP the rich (TONG-gressmen & Sena-TONGS becoming richer illegally & immorally thru THIEVERY. . their loot multiplied several million times. . the poor (magtataho, magbobote, etc.) steady lang ang income. . 100 pesos a day. . the economic gap between them is widening under PNOY’s administration. . THIS IS NOT AN ECONOMIC PROGRESS. .

    That is why there is now a silent protest to suspend or edit the figures in the payment of taxes till this THIEVERY BY POLITICAL LEADERS IS STOPPED COMPLETELY

    “Mabuting pang ako na lang magnakaw sa sarili kong pinaghirapang pera. . kesa etong mga BWISIT NA PULITIKO. . papirma-pirma lang kala mo kung sino. . pagnahuli ‘fake’ daw ung pirma. . un pala staff nila pinapapirma sa pangalan nila. . Milyong ang nawawala sa budget nila. . hindi kuno nila alam. . na FAKE palang NGO ung pinagdalhan nila ng DAP money. .na sa bulsa nila napunta. . dineliver ni BENHUR SA SECRET MITING PLACE NILA

  8. I fully agree with you 2000% Yen Makabenta for your erudite analytical brainless sins of Aquino. You are indeed a brilliant Journalist!

  9. This latest piece of yours, Yen, immediately brings before me two contrasting personalities and the phrases one uttered at the conclusion of his historical oath-taking: “So help me God”; and the other, “In my honor”. I am of course alluding to President Benigno Aquino and Mayor Rudrigo Duterte of Davao. On the first hand, you said that PNoy did mention an unassailable statement in his 3070-worded speech where he admitted the truth that “the National Treasury belongs to the people” – the only truth in the sea of lies! On second hand, there was Mayor Duterte ending the interview with him on the fatal shooting that led to the death of the athlete Pastor Enzo, with an emphatic: “In my honor”, which had most likely sent shrivers on the spines of whoever masterminded or perpetrated the crime, knowing fully well that Duterte is a man who keeps his word “in season and out of season”. Isn’t this the kind of public servant we want to lead our suffering and politically exploited country? I am praying in earnest that the ink in your pen would never run dry so you could assist our country get out from the lethargic state it has fallen on account of having elected a most incapable leader who keeps missing the target, and who prides himself of having a shooting mates who, for me, seems more a bunch of android-looking creatures!

    • hear! hear! time to clean out the trash! sama na din si Dinky makating kamay soliman at deLima IQ level.

  10. What if congress allowed the executive to transgress their branch as what happened on the current issue, is it constitutional? Belmonte and Drillon knows what is happening but kept their mouth shut. Are these two head of Congress not conspirators? Please let me know Mr. Yen.

  11. It was said that the recent speeches of King PNoy were personally written by him other than his speech writer checking on grammar, spelling, comprehension and the like. If what is said is true, we can only add to the description that PNoy really does not have enough intelligence in his brain. The damage is so massive that we can see poor Coloma, Lacierda and Valte looking for any and all thoughts, reasons and explanations to soften the impact and damage of the King PNoy speeches.

  12. Alejo Rosete on

    Very well said Journalist Yen Makabenta. Your explanation and/or comments ay madaling ma intendihan.

    Mabenta pa (from your name – Makabenta)

    “Institutions are irreplaceable but public officials are not and should go and fall if they must.

    “DAP” must go – I mean “Drilon-Abad-Pnoynoying”

  13. Gloria M. Kuizon on

    Sir Yen, your last point about judgment works in less corrupt societies. But this is the Philippines where a lot of “only in da” things happen.

  14. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

    May kasabihan na ang isda ay nahuhuli sa kanyang sariling bunganga. This is what
    is happening to this president. For all the denials and alibis that he was preaching
    to the point that he even went to disrespectfully attacked the Supreme Court, now
    he is saying that the National Treasury belongs to the citizens. By admitting it,
    it means that he very well knew from the very beginning that what they did with the DAP was illegal and therefore they clearly violated. For this reason, they cannot
    invoke good faith.

  15. gabriela silang on

    aquino, the obstinate, will never accept he is wrong. in apolinario mabini’s bday, foolhardily, he went with his usual refrain. but aren’t we expecting too much from a one track mind?