The perversion of governance: creating problems to profit from solving them

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For what the Aquino government has done in creating and implementing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), there is no term in modern political science and public administration. “Misrule” and “maladministration” are the nearest words that come to mind.

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I am referring to the bizarre phenomenon of a supposedly constitutional government resorting to deliberately creating problems for itself, so it can look good and profit from solving them.

This is the only way to describe what the Administration has done in its DAP program, when it willfully adopted a policy of underspending upon assuming office on June 30, 2010.

Over the following six months, it fabricated savings in the budgets of government agencies, aborted public works projects and impounded their budgets, in order to collar billions of pesos of funding for the DAP.

When the GDP growth rate of 7.2 percent plunged to just a shade over 3 percent in 2011, the government found its justification for creating the DAP, by describing it as a fiscal stimulus to restore growth and fund various new projects that included giving over P10 billion to rebel armies, and over P1 billion as bribe money for the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona.

The problem that the DAP sought to solve was non-existent until underspending and the forced-savings command were implemented.

With the tens of billions of pesos generated for the DAP, Aquino got his P220 billion pork barrel fund. He was able to assign, among others, a hefty P5.4 billion for landowners’ compensation, a significant part of which went to his relatives in Hacienda Luisita.

The accelerated spending spread far and wide, to cover virtually every whim of Aquino and Abad, involving all departments of government.

Humongous as it is, the DAP is not the only instance where the Administration created or aggravated a problem, so that it could look good in solving it.

There are other notable exhibits to shock and awe us.

1. The sick man of Asia hoax
One striking example is the repeated use by the President, his economic managers and his propagandists of “the sick man of Asia” mantra as the condition of the Philippines before Benigno Aquino 3rd took office in 2010.

By drumming up economic weakness, they thought they could dramatize how under Aquino’s leadership the Philippines would accomplish an economic miracle and achieve tiger-economy status. A worthy objective surely, but the spin was all hokum.

The big problem with this sick-man theme is that it was China, not the Philippines, which was tagged as “the sick man of Asia” after World War II. I’ve challenged government officials to cite one foreign publication or report that labeled the Philippines as such, and they could not produce one.

On the other hand, I have discovered in my own research that in December 2011, after 18 months of Aquino, the Asia editor of the Financial Times, David Pilling, called this country “Asia’s economic equivalent of the mad lady in the attic.” See my column (“Asia’s mad lady in the Attic”, Times, February 11)

Aquino’s program to remove the sick-man label invested millions of dollars in securing an investment upgrade for the country and bogus awards of excellence for our finance secretary.

The World Bank and the foreign press were not taken in by the hype. The WB noted that the key policies that turned around the economy were laid down during the Arroyo government, and much credit was due to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for the macroeconomy, and to the hefty $22 billion a year being contributed by the OFW sector.

In another article published on July11 in the Financial Times, David Pilling commented that much of what the government of President Aquino has achieved over the last four years is primarily attributable to Arroyo’s legacy:

“In truth, some of the macroeconomic improvements have been the fruit of policy changes outside his administration, particularly at the central bank. Although his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was deeply unpopular and accused of overseeing a corrupt administration, much of the improvement in economic fundamentals can be dated to her government.”

Pilling did not repeat his “mad lady in the attic” criticism, but he might change his mind once he learns about the irrational and malevolent details of the DAP.

2. Picking a quarrel with China
This second exhibit could be the most dangerous and delusional misadventure of the Aquino presidency.

In what should have been just an insignificant intrusion by Chinese vessels into Philippine-claimed waters, the Aquino government loudly transformed it into a sensational international incident and accused China of bullying a neighbor.

The policy of constant criticism of China severely damaged Philippine-China relations, and raised doubts within Asean about Philippine policy.

Instead of engaging in diplomacy and applying serious statecraft, Aquino himself exacerbated the situation and called Chinese leaders as the modern reincarnation of Hitler, and he sought to draw the United States into the spat.

The objective is apparently threefold:

First, to compensate for the Aquino government’s lack of a foreign policy, and to gain international attention to the competing claims in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea as Aquino personally prefers), and to China’s nine-dash line map claiming all of the Spratlys and reefs within.

Second, to secure US funding and technical support for the modernization of the Philippine armed forces. This tack has netted so far some old vessels and helicopters.

Third, to ensure popular and congressional support for an expanded US military presence in the Philippines, as embodied in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which has been a US project all along under its Asia pivot policy.

3. Zamboanga siege and future of Mindanao
By unilaterally setting aside the GRP- MNLF Final Peace Agreement signed on September 2, 1996 by President Fidel V. Ramos and MNLF chairman Nur Misuari, and by setting out on his own to forge a separate peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Libaration Front (MILF), President Aquino turned a relatively calm situation in Mindanao and Sulu into a powder keg, ready to explode at any time. To get the agreement, Aquino sidelined the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to make way for a projected Bangsamoro substate led and administered by the MILF.

This radical change in Philippine policy in Mindanao has already resulted in two violent incidents:

The sending of an armed force and civilians to Sabah by the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu in 2013, to enforce their hereditary claim to the territory. This resulted in clashes with Malaysian police, the death of scores of Filipinos and the detention of several hundred Filipino non-combatants.

The siege of Zamboanga City by a band of the MNLF that sought to raise the Bangsamoro flag in city hall.

This led to a lengthy standoff between the rebel group and Philippine troops. In the clashes that ensued, many died on both sides, and parts of the famous city were burned to the ground and over 10,000 people were rendered homeless.

Administration management of the standoff, with Aquino showing up at the scene, showed that the government had no clear and comprehensive policy for peace in Mindanao and no capability for negotiating real peace for the future of the South.

Under the DAP, more than P11 billion has already been expended for the peace initiative, but what has been achieved is only a gigantic question mark looming over Mindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The 12 hours or less rule
These exhibits could be the ultimate perversion of leadership, done for the worst of motives, self-promotion to project an image of strong leadership, that is belied by the facts on the ground and does great harm to the nation’s sovereignty, territory, fiscal position and foreign relations.

The DAP, without doubt, is the most harmful of all, and it could saddle the Aquino administration with the tag of worst government in Philippine history.

As I write these words, President Aquino is six hours away from delivering his televised address to the nation, which will address the DAP controversy, defend the program, defend its architect Butch Abad, and adamantly insist that the DAP has been beneficial to the nation.

The big question is, will Aquino finally acknowledge that the DAP is a big mistake of his Administration? Will he say the three most difficult words in his vocabulary: “I am sorry?”

“Leaders who fail to own up to mistakes are unfit for office” — Benjamin Carson, Washington Times

Defiant, rejecting error and responsibility, Aquino is Humpty Dumpty. All his apologists cannot put him back together again.

On the other hand… Alas, with this president, there is no other hand.

Reputation experts talk about the “12 hours or less” rule in reputation management in the middle of a big mistake.

Chris Komisarjevsky, retired CEO OF Burson-Marsteller, in his book, The Power of Reputation, explains the rule this way: “You have twelve hours or less within which to take responsibility and say, I am sorry. And within that same time you will have to commit to a fresh start, assuring those around you that nothing like what happened will happen again.”

It’s now been two weeks since the Supreme Court announced its ruling that the DAP is illegal and unconstitutional.

The leadership opportunity is gone.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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24 Comments

  1. does the administration really thinks that the supreme court will reverse or reconsider its findings about DAP? if it does, then its time for an uprising again. evenso, i dont think the supreme court will reverse itself. otherwise all of them will be at the mercy of the filipino people and i am sure they dont want that to happen.

  2. Democracy is not right for the Philippines. The general population is largely uneducated and ignorant . They do not have political maturity.

    The Senators and Congressmen are supposed to represent their constituents. They instead are there protecting their own turf and enriching themselves while in office….
    every single one of them . In addition, to completely shackle the the population,they
    create family political dynasties…..the husband is a Congressman or Senator, and his
    son or wife is the Provincial Governor, etc.

    Why is this happening ?

    It is happening because the electorate in general are uneducated
    and ignorant people !

    They deserve all these troubles because they were the ones that
    elected those officials to their office.

    Hooooorrrraaaay for democracy !

  3. edwin cordevilla on

    The Philippines is far behind among countries in Asia in terms of infrastructure, for the simple reason that funds for those projects (identified in the GAA) were remitted by the various agencies to the president and declared as “savings.” These savings were, then, repackaged and repurposed as the presidential DAP.

  4. Besides perversion of governance to create problems to profit from solving them, there also exist the perversion of ignorance to secure power from continually committing perjury.

    It can only be said of people who continue to praise this president of his misdeeds, that they devious like their president and are not at all with the real poor Filipinos, rather they are part of the higher class, who continue to enjoy the fruits of their fraudulent behaviour by telling Filipinos that everything leveled against their president is mere speculation and thus rendered baseless – they are what a conscionable society consider as congenital liars.

  5. You wrote a good answer die hard batang, now supposing the supreme court after reviewing all the evidences & considerations the government has now re submitted to them find that still dap is illegal & unconstitutional. What happens then. Pnoy seems to think he knows better than the supreme court & if he does then why do we even bother to have a supreme court. All are supposed to abide by their rulings, some we will like some we wont. They have to make decisions on law not what is best for the people of the philippines. It would be fair to say if all the money of rich foreigners living in the philippines was taken from them & disbursed between the filipinos who are poor that would be good for the filipino people but it wouldnt be legal. So not everything that will help not only poor filipinos but all filipinos is legal, & thats what the supreme court is there to do & why you need honest educated trustworthy people in it. We know cj corona wasnt honest & trust worthy & why that wasnt known before he was appointed is a black mark against the arroyo administration.

    • Mr Dustin:

      I understand that you want something change in our country… As you are a foreigner and have Filipina wife… Our system was very long time corrupted by evil! Whether legislative, judiciary and executive! People power 1 and 2 is a crap! Filipinos were being fooled by evildoers. Just now I heard a commentary from radio… Even Ninoy doesn’t want people power. He want to speak to Marcos to honorably come down and meet an agreement to put a leader worthy to run the Philippines… What evildoers did??? They make Ninoy a sacrificial lamb to urge Filipinos to revolt against the government! Who is always behind this revolt??? Enrile et al! A strong fraternity of rebels! Opppsss.. They did it again in Edsa 2. And thirdly they tried to destabilized again the government in Zamboaga Siege but they failed because Pnoy is firm in His commitment to serve the people! I repeat again… There is no good outcome in the uprising!
      Why now? Self explanatory… We found a new hero! President Pnoy…

    • hi juliet!

      A hero just for you and the minorities who receives lots of benefits from the present administration!

  6. Edgar G. Festin on

    I hit Like as usual, Mr. Makabenta. But you missed one, the biggest problem, Pres. B Aquino and His Gang created: taking our country down the road to fragmentation and now soon — I dare predict — taking Ferdinand Marcos’ solution: declare martial law. That can be the only way out for the President now that he has challenged the Supreme Court to reconsider its unanimous decision to declare the Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional and illegal. And this solution to the problem he created will of course profit him also and mark the beginning of the kind of Philippines that could have been like South Korea and Taiwan four decades ago had Ferdinand Marcos been as good a leader as Lee Kuan Yew, Park Chung Hee, Chiang Ching Kuo and their gangs were.

    • Triccie Cantero on

      I too am worried about the martial law card. And wouldn’t that be the ultimate irony if this man in malacanang chooses to go down that road.

  7. I love reading every piece of posted articles at the manila times im wondering how you cud reach out the bracket C,D,E of our society im one of them of course, the aquino administration is bent on fooling this bracket by using the national language, can you people of the media have a translated venue of your GOOD and ENLIGHTENING articles in a daily tabloid which is lair of bracket C,D.E

  8. Diehard Batang on

    I am an apolitical and a very independent member of the silent majority who is horrified in witnessing how the power of social media can shape and thus can persuade public opinion. Your column and that of Mr. Tiglao have been highly critical of the present administration to a point that your obsession is obviously a result of either a vendetta or hidden agenda by your benefactor via demolition campaign. Judging by the sentiment of what I read from various comments by bloggers, it is apparent that you have succeeded in demonizing the DAP program thru your barrage of half-truths and spins on what is a well-intended spending program. Allow me to disregard the Erap era since it was cut-short (thank God) and one where the citizenry, was hoodwinked by a popular but inept and unqualified president. Mr.Tiglao who was a cabinetman during GMA’s presidency must be reminded that during their admin, the Mike Arroyo-Ronaldo tandem was widely known to have corrupted the DPWH and is only now being unearthed and investigated. They made a handful of contractors multi-millionaires and billionaires in just a few years. To name a few, Sunwest Construction, JSG, Meditechtrade, Hi-tone, LRTiqui, E Gardiola are contractors alledgely connected with the duo (refer to E Tulfo expose). How about the NBN ZTE deal, second hand helicopters where the reputation of PNP chief Verzosa was put on the line, Hello Garci and the fertilizer scam? Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe on the honesty of GMA (just like her Dad) but due to political expediency and the greed of people around her (the need to recover and for future campaign expenses ) she just have to go with the flow. These are sample of corrupt practices and be reminded that the PDAF scam happened during their watch.
    DAP is management program to spur economic growth and speed-up delivery of social services to our citizenry. Your opinion on intentionally delaying expenditures (underspending) is highly subjective if not totally absurd. Please be reminded that while the power of purse is with the legislative, the executive dept (President) has the inherent function to prioritize expenditures vis-a vis revenue collections and further has line veto power when he deemed there are unsound appropriations. Unlike PDAF, where billions were pocketed by a few instead of “causing a change in the lives of people who had lived in our society’s margins” as the Hon. Justice Leonen wrote in her opinion, DAP is well-intentioned program designed to prioritize spending to achieve social and economic goals. While the SC ruled that some acts and practices are unconsitutional, it is incumbent for the Executive dept to ask for a motion for reconsideration and implore the SC to revisit their decision and put into consideration the real intent of governance-THE COMMON GOOD.

    • Diehard Batang:

      Thank you for joining me to enlighten our fellow Filipino citizens and uncover the hidden agenda of evil! I don’t like this country to be ruined again!

    • Why don’t you wait for the list of DAP SARO’s which the PNoy administration need to be produced, then have it audited by auditors other than COA and find out where the money intended for these so-called DAP projects went. Why is the administration still hiding the truth? Because of the delay there is much apprehension that Abad fabricated or is fabricating SARO’s to satisfy his list. Should the PNoy administration ask for a reconsideration of the SC decision, it is their prerogative. But how can the SC change it’s decision when they are basing it in the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the land, not on any administrative law or executive order which will turn out “ab initto.” I disagree with you observation that only Messrs. Makabenta and Tiglao are the only critical of the administration because there are so many of them who were even supporters and apologists of PNoy in the early stage of his tenure but are now very, very critical of him. Why is it happening, simply because PNoy promised so many things which never were fulfilled. Most important is his promise to have a clean government, but look at what happened, he wasted public money by corrupting and bribing legislators and government officials to get what he want. Dwelling on the previous administration does not help him a bit because the scandals and scams happening in his administration is equal and even worse than the previous.

  9. Indeed this man in Malacanang is showing a perverted mind. Marcos’ motive to declare martial law based on what was believed to be a communist takeover bogey now appears more justifiable than a slowly unfolding BS Aquino’s constitutional dictatorship.

  10. It is quite ‘dangerous’ because what we have in Malacanang is one who believes he is always right; that good intentions are enough to prevail irrespective of the missteps and negative effects. Instead of ‘sorry’, “defiance” and, yet, still hoping that the decision on the DAP can be reversed on reconsideration if, at all, motion will be given a chance. After reading parts of the SONA, I can hardly believe what I read. What a president; what a precedent!

  11. Our president has a sick agenda. He does not have much between the ears. Now, he is crumbling, crumbling big, an avalanche.

  12. Well said… another biased statement!

    I would try to share my opinion! I was already tired to read linking DAP to bribe SC Corona impeachment. All hearsay and speculations. I want this issue to stop… Can you please send somebody from the senate and congress to stand-up in the public and confess… “I was been bribed to impeach SC Corona”!!! Then if you can’t, better shut up and accept that DAP is for the good of the people! Even Jinggoy Estrada didn’t say anything that He was bribed. His accusation is just mere speculations. Non-sense and baseless! They are against progress!

    In the Zamboanga Siege issue… Please read the link: http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/2013/09/27/miriam-jpe-behind-coa-zambo-attacks/. Not far from reality because Enrile is also behind the People Power 1 and 2! This was an act of fooling the people! After Marcos stepped down… our economy stepped down! After Erap stepped down… PGMA rise up unconstitutionally.. and all evil rise up! Using a scenario to bring down the government resulting to extreme corruption and poverty! This was Enrile legacy! Talo na naman tayo! Lesson learned… There is no good outcome in uprising! Only Manileno’s voice is heard. People in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao is deprived of their rights. No wonder why Erap still got most votes second to Pnoy in Visayas and Mindanao!

    Please open up your mind!

    With China issue… Pnoy bravely defended our country. China is the one bullying and now you are accusing Pnoy escalates the situation. Indeed you are pro Chinese! Why don’t blame PGMA for opening our gates to Chinese intrusion!

    Thank you!

    • Disclosure of the Janet Lim Napoles PDAF and DAP scam are big corruptions of this administration and cohorts in Congress .Please don’t tell anyone to shut up. It’s a democratic country and every Filipino citizen has every right to freely express what they have in mind.

    • your comment is also biased! sorry but if you think and have proof of what you are posting then why don’t you start filing a case or at least present it formally?

    • We have to increase our tribe here Juliet to rebut every negative thing they rehashed by Makabenta and Tiglao.

  13. Tk you, it is well said. Please continue to enlighten Filipinos especially those living abroad

  14. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

    Thank you Mr. Yen Makabenta for your excellent and objective presentation of
    the true state of this country. For I not could see any substantial accomplishment of
    this administration. Rather, it was the Arroyo government who was instrumental
    in turning the economy with the help of the P22billion from the OFW’s. As this
    administration argues that the DAP was intended to stimulate fiscal economy, it
    certainly not.DAP funds used to buy and bribe senators and congressmen to vote for the impeachment of corona, DAP funds given to the rebels, DAP funds used to pay
    landowners a significant part was paid to his relatives of Hacienda Luisita, are
    certainly not used to stimulate fiscal economy.

    • It is $22 billion dollars and not P22 billion pesos from OFW contributions every year as per Mr. Yen’s article above, or in Philippine currency per month it is roughly P78 trillion pesos a month.