• This is not budgeting, this is looting

    42

    When the history of BS Aquino’s presidency is written, It should be said that it was during his watch that graft and corruption was transmogrified into outright looting of the public treasury. In previous eras, public vigilance centered on the corruption of public officials through bribery and lobbying by outside groups and individuals, like the infamous Harry Stonehill.

    Today, much of the graft occurs through the budget process, right under our noses. The executive and members of Congress blatantly allocate public money for themselves through various machinations that they do with the budget. When the deed is done, the public is none the wiser about what has happened. We just learn later on about the billions that have disappeared into the black hole of greed and corruption.

    The ugliness of this crime against the people is coming out to the forefront as a result of the expose by former Senator Panfilo Lacson that what was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court — the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Development Acceleration program (DAP) — have been resurrected in the 2015 General Appropriations Act. And we should brace ourselves for the harsh reality that the same resurrection will be reenacted in the 2016 budget that the President will submit to Congress at the start of its final regular session.

    Resurrection of PDAF and DAP
    In an address to the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), Lacson disclosed that he and a team of investigators and analysts have uncovered P424 billion of lump-sum appropriations in the 2015 budget, in direct violation of Supreme Court rulings.

    In the course of their investigation, Lacson said, he and his team found out that a supposedly new system for authorizing and tightly monitoring budget releases was being used to convert itemized accounts into “lump-sum” accounts, whose utilization would be at the discretion of department secretaries.

    Lump-sum budgets give the administration discretion on where and how to spend taxpayers’ money, practically nullifying Congress’ power of the purse.

    Specifically, Lacson and his team found lump-sum appropriations in the following departments: Social Welfare and Development, P102.6 billion; Education, P80.7 billion; Interior and Local Government, P80.7 billion; Health, P75.4 billion; National Defense, P66.4 billion; Agriculture, P29.9 billion; Public Works and Highways, P11.4 billion; Transportation and Communications, P11.4 billion; Department of Environment and Natural Resources, P6.1 billion.

    The National Irrigation Authority was also found to have P13 billion in lump-sum budget, while the Philippine National Police had P6.7 billion.

    Alarmingly, the operation shows the legislative actively conspiring with the executive in parking lump-sum appropriations in the National Expenditure Program without intending to use the funds for their recommended purpose/s, but actually reserving them for use by selected legislators who will realign their identified PAPs (programs, activities and projects). By this method, the funds became pork under the 2015 GAA.

    I’m poaching here from my colleague Bobi Tiglao’s two recent columns’ on the Lacson expose, but I will plead the defense that the larceny is for the good cause of exposing the larger crime of perversion of the budget process, which places billions of public money under the discretion and control of President Aquino, Butch Abad, Mar Roxas, and other members of the administration.

    The reply of Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda that Lacson’s revelations are just “doomsday assertions” makes matters worse,because it shows that President Aquino doesn’t care about legality and constitutionality.

    Escudero’s deceptive defense
    When Senate President Drilon declared that it is Sen. Francis Escudero, as chairman of the Senate finance committee, who should explain how the budget got riddled with lump-sum appropriations, Escudero conceded that the GAA could indeed contain these anomalous items.

    But then the senator, who thinks he can talk his way out of anything, had the gall to tell the nation that this rank manipulation of the budget is all legal and just temporary.

    “(There’s) nothing irregular/illegal as it gives the agencies flexibility. But we are striving to further lessen it,” said in a text to media.

    “The 2015 budget is, by far, the most detailed with the least number/amount of lump sums,” he claimed.

    This outright falsehood immediately drew a retort from Lacson, who said the lump-sum funds are “either line budget items or lump sum.”

    He explained: “If it’s lump sum, it is discretionary and prone to misuse, abuse and corruption. Lump sums are not illegal per se but if these, as described in the National Executive Program, are converted into PDAF … then it’s not only illegal but unconstitutional.”

    Lacson and Escudero are contrasting figures in this saga. Throughout his two terms in the Senate (12 years), Lacson made a career of not touching the pork barrel slated for him, and he also refused to partake of DAP funds, despite earning eligibility by going along with the impeachment of chief justice Renato Corona.

    Escudero, in contrast, has wallowed in pork, and availed of DAP to the hilt after voting to convict Corona.

    As Senate finance committee chairman, Escudero is supposed to be the senate’s gatekeeper who would make sure that the budget would pass all tests of constitutionality and legality. Instead, he is a facilitator of the looting.

    Osmeña adds fuel to the fire
    A third senator, Sen. Serge Osmeña, has joined the conversation by confirming Lacson’s allegations, and then adding fuel to the fire.

    Osmena said that senators have the right to identify projects amounting to P200 million each in the 2015 budget. And there are some senators who have the privilege of identifying projects worth as high as P2 billion.

    He declined to identify the billion-peso senators, who in a tantalizing twist could include Escudero as a two-billion-peso senator.

    Osmeña said Malacañang promised Congress that it could still identify projects placed in the budgets of different agencies. He confirmed Lacson’s findings that lump-sum or discretionary funds, which are prone to corruption, can still be found in this year’s national budget.

    Then he added that lump-sum funds could also be found in the Malacañang-proposed P3.002 trillion budget for 2016.

    Osmena rationalized the executive-legislative conspiracy as a transactional arrangement. “If there’s no pork, [the President’s]pet bills won’t be passed in Congress. That is how the President controls Congress.”

    More billions to uncover
    Lacson says his team has not yet completed its review of the budget. There could be more billions to uncover

    He said that he will go to the Supreme Court to question the lump-sum items in the national budget. The Supreme Court declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) unconstitutional in November 2013. It also declared the Disburesement Aceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional in July 2014.

    To sum up, there is absolutely no rigor or integrity in the budget process today. There is collusion between the Executive and Congress.

    They are united only by the desire to loot the public treasury.

    yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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    42 Comments

    1. Do you believe PNoy travels in a “tuwid na daan,” when he refuses to pass the FOI bill into law? The FOI promises a complete halt in gov’t corruption.

      Do you believe PNoy is clean and incorruptible when all his appointees in the gov’t in different depts. are embroiled in anomalous transactions involving billions?–the 424 billion pork barrel (DAP) exposed by Lacson; the 4P’s in which billions of pesos can’t be accounted for; MRT anomaly, and the Comelec accepting Smartmatic bid even if the SC has disqualified it from bidding, to mention a few.

      Do you believe PNoy is patriotic and a concerned leader of his people when he favors Malaysia over the Filipinos as exposed in many provisions of the BBL, the Mamasapano incident and the Canadian’s waste garbage dumping? PNoy is a fraud, a corrupt president and heartless traitor!

    2. One way to inhibit bogus NGOs from receiving taxpayer’s money is to adopt world’s best practice and set up a system of company registration like they have in Australia. Companies are given an Australian Company Number (ACN). Non-incorporated businesses are given an Australian Business Number (ABN). Incorporated companies use their ACN as their ABN. These numbers are searchable on the government’s Australian Securities and Investment Commission website http://www.asic.gov.au, and for a fee you can get extra details about the directors and company returns. Thus, members of the public can check out an NGOs bona fides. If Senators and Congressmen are giving funds to non-reputable recipients alarm bells should ring in the Philippine Treasury Bureau and the media. It has been a parliamentary prerogative for centuries now that all monetary allocations should go through the House, Kings defied this at the peril of losing their throne. Giving public service heads this discretion violates this principle.

      • Edsa4 ang tanging sagot dyan! Ginagago na ang buong sambahayang Pilipino ng malakanyang at kongreso pero wala man lang kahit isa ang kumikilos para pigilan ang kanilang pagnanakaw. We should be getting out in the streets now. Bale wala ang mga expose na ito kung hindi aaksyon ang mga tao. Nasa ang ating pagmamahal sa ating bansang Pilipinas?

    3. Primer Pagunuran on

      Fast forward 2016, PNoy and his cabal must be held to account for what comes across as ‘organized corruption’. That sure bears watching.

    4. Thanks to Yen Makabenta for his intuitive insight and investigative journalism in really exposing to us what is really happening in our country today. I have been hearing about this Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Development Acceleration program (DAP) in the newspapers, but I really did not know what it is all about, until Yen Makabenta explained it thoroughly to his avid readers.

      Now I know what is happening in our country today.

      Thanks Yen for enlightening us, the readers of your newspaper, about this important matter happening in our country today. Manila Times and the Filipino people are so lucky to have such insightful journalist in our country.

    5. if i remember correctly, these pork barrel items were exposed by the minority in the house of reptiles este representatives. nobody listened and the lolo sb train railroaded the gaa. and so with the senate train of chizwiz and lolo (NG), if i recall correctly, maid miriam made an issue of these but was ignored. kung baga huli na si lacson sa expose nya. dapat nuon pa pagka gawang batas ng gaa ay dinala na kaagad ito sa supreme court. ngayon ay medyo ubos na ang pera at siguradong naipamigay na ito ni abadingding. sana tutukan ng todo ng lahat ang P3TRILLION gaa na isusumite ni boy sisi sa congreso pagkatapos ng kanyang sona.

    6. primero.obrero on

      All these things only confirmed the rotten the present social order/system that we have today. Further confirm that corruption is inherent to this rotten system. They need this to perpetuate/remain in power. Constituency building via patronage politics and to have it they need the much needed fund for it… so where did they will get this? Corruption is in two counts – 1. via – public fund and 2. via business support in exchange of favorable policies and laws to the extent that they (politician) had already sold the control on our natural resources from land, water, forest and all of our rich minerals or natural resources… including the former government owned corporations and public utilities such as schools, hospitals, ports, energy facilities etc etc… to the extent that they have sold the soul of workers and other working people by stripping of their rights via legislation such as legitimizing conteractualization and wage freeze policy …. This happen because they are already partners for extracting profit via Private, Public Partnership…. Under this circumstances… who ever will be endorse by President Aquino in the 2016 election will pursue this kind of program…. Even the opposition will just tow the same program — the only difference is the product of corruption will goes to the other pocket because they will be both implementing the same system and the same laws that serve to system of patronage politics….

    7. Vic Penetrante on

      When will the book, The Ingenius Way of Budgeting by Florencio Abad, come out?

    8. The Chinese have quite an effective way of dealing with official corruption. You get a very speedy trial followed by an even faster death. Make corruption a capital crime.

    9. it is very clear,visible even a blind man can categorically say that this is the most
      corrupt administration after the aguinaldo revolutionary regime.It is unfortunate Grace poe and chiz escudero were babyed by the media,the two senators who has done nothing but to say cheeeze,smile,asit clicked the next day they are headlines to all mass media.Many were being fooled by this tandem as it seem they are the savior of the 100 million filipinos, with problems inherited to Pnoy administration :graft and corruption,smuggling,non stop crimes anywhere,poverty,unemployment,high prices of all commodities,gasoline,electricity,water,corruption of meralco,corruption of communication companies and the political maneuvering of the wealthy people in electing a president.Who should be elected president? he should be a male,brave,strong characters,not corrupt,with balls to fight china even in actual war and pro filipino.And lastly do not vote any candidates that belong to liberal party,do not be fooled by grace poe and escudero tandem they are parts of science fiction in the young people’s imagination.

      • hindi kaya pang linlang ni boy sisi sila poe-pet at chizwiz??? habang tayo ay nakatutok sa pag anunsyo ni boy sisi ng kanyang manok sa 2016, ang comelec naman ay niluluto na ang cheating machines for 2016. sa dinami daming reklamo sa hocus pcos ay itutuloy pa rin ng comelec ang pag gamit ng mga hocus pcos o ang bagong pangalan nito na OMR na binebenta ng smartmatic. kung baga smoke screen lang sina poe-pet at chizwiz at ang talagang niluluto ng patago ay ang cheating machines.

      • Not in agreement. The past administrations were most corrupt. I have not really hear anything bad against our President in spite being miles away, He must being doing good for our country! So don’t blow smoke in our ass!!

      • JAIME VALDEZ on

        that’s another country, Brazil maybe?. Besides, Philippine looters are not easy to identify. They work in big offices of the government and dressed in suits and barongs.

      • No they’re charge and if convicted they’re sent to prison like the three senators. Fortunately not all cities in our country do what Davao does.

    10. genesisbughaw on

      It’s Executive Dictatorship wherein Congress for the record are bribe driven.
      Enough of Yellowtards kleptocractic democracy.

    11. angel paredes on

      therefore it is imperative the filipinos use 2016 election as a form of revolution for change- voting wisely with an end view of greater empowerment on government issues and affairs.

      • JAIME VALDEZ on

        why wait for 2016? Jim Paredes, if he is not a fraud, should be organizing a rally to oust the president and his cabinet.

      • As long as there is Hocus Pcos machine we the people cannot get a fair election, even if the filipino people voted wisely. Simply because of the source code until now they haven’t presented it.

      • joros, i agree. our votes are not counted. no one questioned the owners of T I M. That’s why the bogus president is called PCOS President. Therefore, the saying “kasalanan ng botante kasi binoto” is not true.

    12. Chiz is the most cunning senator in the senate he can appear honest but observe his actions and you will see a different person it will no longer be surprise if he is one of those favored legislators who can point at project and the department concerned will prioritized his projects.

      • Amen. Look at Sorsogon. from his father, Marcos regime, and opportunist Chiz, what is Sorsogon now? Where are the tax payer’s money allocated for development of the province?

    13. Amnata Pundit on

      Will someone please explain why, if this Abnoy vs Binay is not a moro-moro, there is a secret pork barrel fund for the vice-president’s office in the budget as revealed by Senator Lacson?

    14. Why should senators identify projects to be done when they are not representing any area in the Philippines? They are elected at-large and therefore, nationally. How can they be effective in pinpointing projects? Shouldn’t this be the function of the Public Works and Highway and other agencies that need funding for their projects?

    15. Venerando Desales on

      Why don’t these senators and congressmen pass a law legalizing or decriminalizing bribery as they are saying that these lump sum allocations, a fruit of their conspiracy with the executive, is normal trading practice? You phrased it right, Ken, indeed it is looting, not budgeting. We are all damned! It is happening also in the municipal level! The abominations of our legislators and the executive department had reached a magnitude that it seems that only divine intervention can correct!

    16. Yes there are lump sums in the budget. Yes these sums can be spent on anything. Yes the SC will declare this latest scheme illegal and strike it down. The problem we have is the crooks do not go away when they are discovered, they just put on another mask, change the names, and keep on stealing. Someone needs to be put in jail and maybe this will stop.

    17. It is providential that at the time the country needs a saving warrior, someone appears to champion the cause of the people. First, there was Sen. Jinggoy who exposed the PDAF and later, the DAP. Then, there was Miriam Santiago and Sen. Bongbong Maros. Now, it is Sen. Lacson’s turn to rescue the country from the looting gang of another Aquino.

      We still have a lot to be grateful for. Wen will still see the mad dog in jail.

    18. laguatanlawzen.com on

      The present crop of members of Congress are looters, dishonest, and satanic. Chiz Escudero is masquerading as a sheep in a devil’s clothing. Voters in 2016 election should only vote those neophyte candidates without tract records of corruption. All members of congress are bullshits. Nakakahiya. Itong gagong presidcente natin ay No. 1 dishonest, sinungaling. They bleed the country white to death.

    19. Tricycle Driver on

      Lump sum..line item…blah blah blah…you’re all screwed up! Poor Filipinos! I truly believe that the Philippines must become a U.S. Territory again, or even better, a State of the United States. Now let’s see if China will bully a U.S. Territory or state. These government agency secretaries must fear jail time to do their jobs correctly.

    20. Mar Padilla, Jr. on

      Is there any laws under our constitution, that you could charge an Ex-President when he did some hanky-panky when he was sitting down as President.Like Pres. Panot Aquino is still doing the DAP Disbursement Acceleration Program, which was decided by the Supreme Court of the Philippines as illegal. Also could you charge a member of Congress or Senate with him for colluding to passed this DAP program, although they know that it was illegal as decided by the Supreme Court. Is it only Ex-Sen. P. Lacson could file a case or any political party or any individual. Come on honest and good people of the Philippines, STAND UP SAY, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Hopefully they will all landed in jail. If there is no law, then enact one or amend the Constitution and insert this paragraph for Ex-President, Congressman and Senators. Thank you.

      • Who will enforce the law when the law enforcement agencies are instead of investigating and prosecuting they are protecting and shielding. The head of the Justice Dept De Lima and Ombudsman Morales serve at the presidents discretion.

        De Lima and Morales only target Aquino’s political foes and only with Aquino’s permission.

        Who has been shielding the Pork barrel and Dap fund thieves the past 2 years ? Aquino, De Lima and Morales.

        Sadly Aquino bought and now controls every other branch of the government thru his appointments, bribes and or threats of pork barrel charges.

      • Larry Ebersole on

        our country indeed is in the deepest hour of corruption; from the president and his cabinet; the senate; the congress;the LGU; government departments; the courts and the military including the police; corruption abounds. ARE WE REALLY A NATION OF CORRUPT PEOPLE? Where can the people run to now? the NPA; the MILF; the ABU SAYAF ; where?where are the street parliamentarians these days why we do not see them rallying against these corrupt government, they must have been corrupted by million or billions as well…. wake up citizen of the Philippines.

    21. Justaskingseriously on

      High definition of corruption has now gone ultra high definition: more and more faces of corruption are plastered on the ultra high definition television screens of the journalists. We can just imagine the hair-pulling going on in the legislative and executive branches of the government–especially those with hardly any hair left or what the cebuano language would refer to as NPA or “Nawong Pulos Agtang” (literally “face-all-forehead”). Keep digging, Ping! With foreheads all the way to the back of their heads, the executives and the senators and congressmen are heading to the dark closests where the sun won’t shine. But shine it will. The sun that burns and disinfects.

    22. Felimon A. Soria on

      And we have this Senator, Escudero aspiring to be president or vice president. Makes one wonders.

    23. P.Akialamiro on

      The people should be informed about this kind of occurrences in the government. Because of its technical aspect, it takes someone in Congress or a former member to know about it, although there maybe those “pretending” not be aware of, because they would be beneficiaries of the ‘loot’.

      The government has long been the “cookie jar” of many unscrupulous politicians and government officials. We need more clones of former Sen. Lacson to really serve the interests of the people.