When two former Supreme Court Chief Justices formally take a position and make the same public then something is truly screwed in our beloved Philippines. And when a president says, “taking this into account, such projects by the legislators made up a mere nine percent of the program. Why, then, is the DAP being made an issue?” then one gets the impression that the one hand does not know what the other is doing. Truly sad for the son of Democracy’s icon and the Partido Liberal who I thought would be a lot better as a party-in-governance.
When former Chief Justices Jose Puno and Artemio Panganiban came out swinging against the surprising tendencies of the Aquino administration of fusing Executive and Legislative powers in relation to taxpayers money and the infamous Development Acceleration Program or DAP, the citizens protest found champions. Grudgingly, even former Senator Panfilo Lacson’s revelations and strong words before Philconsa were spot on. The take away that made me ponder on lengthily was the question: “Why do we keep on borrowing when we keep on saving?” And his reply to that question is like a guided laser gun that cuts this administration’s inability to explain their decisions or indecisions, policies or lack of policies and programs or misdirected programs.
Lacson’s context is telling: “The country’s outstanding national debt in 2003 was P3.256 trillion. Ten years later, as of today, it has increased to P5.864 trillion. Every Filipino, both living and unborn is P61,733.28 in debt, both to some foreigners and to his fellow Filipinos.” Juxtapose savings, “every year, the recorded savings in the national budget, mainly due to underspending by the national government, runs to billions of pesos. Thus, total savings in 2009 was P263.8 billion; it was P111.6 billion in 2005; P3.5 billion in 2002…” So why indeed do we borrow? The data is glaring to the degree of mismanagement our government has absolutely perfected.
It was the cabal in Malacanang which explained DAP and its explanation was like completing a puzzle that by the end of the activity, they were able to put together an image of a humongous question mark. What gives Mr. President? When everyone is telling you there is something wrong, you choose to believe the cabal and not your Boss. Why? Are you falling to the trap of the dictator’s path?
I have defended the position of reforming pork and not abolition but really when you hear the President say: “those that you have managed to help find work, those that you have educated, those that you have helped gain medical attention” and ”you’re a politician. You’d want to be reelected. Your work, therefore, has to devolve to constituency work,” truly smack at patronage. There is even not a dent of a reformist hue in that statement. What happened Mr. President?
The President before Focap, further added salt to an open wound, “let’s keep our eyes on the ball. The public was outraged by the audacity with which public officials allegedly stole from the national coffers through the PDAF. This is an outrage we share, and this is precisely why we abolished the PDAF, and followed the evidence so that we may hold all those who committed wrongdoing accountable.” The people are outraged at you as leader who can surely discipline the cabal destroying the gains you have achieved. Pork abolished? Really, Mr. President? Who you kidding?
For those who have worked in Congress, we know what realignment means. Abolition of a line item would mean deduction from the total appropriations approved by the House of Representatives. What’s the actual situation? The House transmitted to the Senate P2.268 trillion national budget it approved on 3rd reading last 22 October. How does PDAF look in FY 2014 House-approved budget?
There are no itemization of projects for PDAF that were realigned to the other agencies outside of DPWH, consequently, the lump sums are subject to the discretion of the President. Specifically, P24.5M of allocation per district was given to DPWH in a line item presentation with no project less than PhP2M. The balance of the PhP70M was allocated via different percentages to Dole, DSWD, DoH and Ched. What the House did with the Senators’ pork was to divide the P4.8B into quarters placing the unitemized lump sum of P1.2B each to Dole, DSWD, DoH and Ched. This House formula certainly is not abolishing pork as the President proudly announced and continues to invoke.
Then the President made mention of conspiracy. Who is conspiring with whom? Surely the people marching on the streets and pushing with their objective of ridding the GAA with pork and discretionary fund can’t be conspirators? The opposition? Why, is there one? Ever since the Aquino administration took office on day one, the opposition has been muted. So who is conspiring with whom? And to get the President to say that before Focap shows the depth of this dispensation.
November is a crucial month for all anti pork advocates. On the 7th, Ma’am Jenny will face the Blue Ribbon of the Senate. On the 19th, the Supreme Court will hear the Philconsa petition on DAP. When December 6 rolls out, it will mark 100 days countdown to Justice from the day of the Million People March.
At the very core of the debate is Article VI, Section 25 (5) of the Constitution that states, “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.” Take note that the provision does not speak of crossing branches in the process of augmenting funds. Take serious note that augmentation can be made provided item is in the general appropriations law. No Budget Circular, whether 541 or 543 or any to be revealed later can be above the Constitution. DBM Secretary Abad knows that as a lawyer and a former legislator. His counsel to the President is important but at the end he cannot rise above the appointing power, hence accountable and so as the President to his bosses, the voters. But accountability and transparency in the Aquino administration are varying shades of gray!
The words and acts of the leadership today appears to be very familiar to all Filipinos. We have seen, witnessed and rebelled against it. The words and acts traverse a path too dangerous of a cordoned leader living in an ivory tower just believing what his cabals will tell him to be true and real pulse of the people. To say there is nothing wrong with DAP is alarming. To even believe that DAP should be continued as an Aquino program, heralding it as the economic program of salvation is too familiar. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, Mr. President. Take heart!