Editorial cartoon by Sonny Boy Surnit
PERHAPS Ferdinand Marcos had good reason to abolish Congress back in 1973.
With the extent and amount of thievery in Congress and the plunder of public funds reaching unbelievable proportions and spanning several decades, there is more than enough reason to shut down the operation of what critics and a newspaper columnist-magazine publisher describe as the “largest crime syndicate” of the land.
Throughout history, Congress has seen several evolutions and shifts from a unicameral to bicameral system. Marcos abolished Congress in January 1973 with a shift to the parliamentary system of government and the bicameral system was only reintroduced in February 1987 after Corazon C. Aquino assumed the presidency with the ouster of Marcos.
The primary role of Senators and Representatives is—supposedly—to draft and pass laws for the advancement of the nation and the protection of its people. Lawmakers are not supposed to have direct access to public funds. Well, not until the creation of the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Originally called the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) in 1990, the PDAF is designed to allow legislators to fund small-scale infrastructure or community projects which fell outside the national infrastructure program—which was often limited to large infrastructure items. But over the years, the PDAF has been used for things other than countrywide development. It’s been used as a tool for blackmail, coercion as a reward for political loyalty and has been the object of plunder.
Currently, each of the 24 senators has access to PhP200 million in PDAF while the 289 or so representatives receive PhP70 million a year. In total, some PhP25.03 billion of the national budget goes to our honorable men and women in Congress.
Public outcry over the CDF led to reforms in the CDF and its evolution into PDAF. But nothing has changed. The PDAF remains prone to administrative abuse and plunder. And we’re not even talking about the Disbursement Acceleration Package (DAP), which is a different matter altogether but also involves the possible misuse of billions in government money.
PNoy and his administration is in deep trouble. Maybe it’s time to do an FM.
By Miguel Raymundo
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III’s Disbursement Acceleration Package (DAP) renders Congress useless. DAP is PNoy’s signature and declaration to the Filipinos that he has no need for Congress.
Filipinos spend tens of billions of pesos a year for salaries of congressmen and senators and to underwrite their stealing. Thievery in this Congress has gone too far that a weekly business magazine rightly described it as a crime syndicate.
Who needs a crime syndicate for a Congress? Even PNoy, by his acts, says he does not need Congress, except perhaps to impeach a Supreme Court Chief Justice.
Then will somebody please simply abolish Congress for failing the Filipino people for decades now?
First, Congress failed to protect the people from the biggest crime syndicate in the country led by the President himself.
The President misappropriated some PhP174Billion in forced savings from the budget of executive offices. He pooled these savings to form an illegal fund called the DAP. The Use of these savings is a product of technical malversation—a crime with defined penalties that include a jail term and dismissal from service.
This is PNoy’s biggest crime so far, a thievery ten times worse than that of the PDAF scandal supposedly masterminded by one Janet Lim Napoles.
While PNoy could be the most dishonest President this country has ever had by the magnitude of stealing now going on, his is a long list of dishonest acts from abandoning campaign promises to allowing subalterns to run away with billions of government funds.
PNoy promised us Daang Matuwid. With runaway corruption in the government service, no one but his yellow allies believed this. But of course Daang Matuwid meant a straight path of billions of pesos to the pockets and bank accounts of these yellow allies.
PNoy promised to wipe out poverty. Poverty incidence has gone up as we slipped deeper in international ratings on the measure of success in the fight against poverty.
PNoy said “Pag walang corrupt walang mahirap” and we see the reason why the “mahirap” has increased in numbers.
The people pay over P35Billion in keeping Congress. In return, Congress enacted insignificant laws, like in 2012 a bill on reproductive health and the postponement of elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, according to election lawyer Romulo Macalintal.
Every year, the only significant bill passed is the General Appropriations Act (GAA) or the national budget, the obligatory congress action to legalize government expenditure.
Under PNoy this GAA is not the bible in his spending, this is a scrap of paper that does not merit his attention or, worse, his respect. And, for circumventing the provisions of the budget and violating the Constitution, PNoy ought to go to jail.
According to Macalintal, the PhP35Billion savings from abolishing Congress could be used for other purposes.
But wait, should Congress be abolished, there will be absolute control of the purse by the executive branch.
Remember, Mr. Macalintal, the lawmakers are simply beneficiaries of theft by the executive branch. Remember that the process of stealing starts from Malacanang, passes through Congress and, finally, actually disbursed by the executive branches controlled by the Palace.
So Congress is just one step in the process of theft. Most guilty are those in the executive department, especially people in Malacanang.
Every step in the way in the disbursement of government funds has safety measures against acts of thieves.
I was the chief of budget division and management services division during the martial law days in one office attached to the Office of the President. I had this case of the top official ordering me to transfer funds from capital outlay to maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).
I refused to obey the order, advising the boss it was technical malversation. I briefed him, thinking that being new the government service he did not know our duties. I told the boss this was against the law and I could go to jail if I followed his order.
The national budget defines how the government funds must be used, I told him and I have a duty to my position as budget officer. Of course I resigned few months after that briefing for too suddenly it became very hot in the kitchen.
The system is not rotten. The people in the system are. In solving the corruption in Congress, you don’t kill the system. The solution is for us to stop electing the corrupt to Congress.
Those elected and continue with their thieving ways should be charged in court and put to jail. That is assuming our justice system is working, but that is another story.
The presidential is system is not rotten. It is working fine in other countries like the United States of America. The person in the position makes the position of President rotten.
In the case of the Philippines, our President has shown how he has ruined the image of his position, being most guilty in the PDAF-DAP crime. He should be impeached for everyone to again respect our system.
He is the puppeteer, the one using government cash as strings in the public dance to massive corruption.
Now, if you think stealing from the government coffers is the only form of corruption hurting the economy so much, think again.
Yes corruption has hurt so much the economy that when PNoy and budget secretary Florencio Abad were pooling forced savings to create DAP, the GDP growth went down to half at over 3%.
The forced savings meant putting a stop to infrastructure projects and other people welfare initiatives, pulling out from the national spending over P170Billion.
The ripple effect of this dip in national spending was slow down of economic activities by suppliers to government projects and no jobs. Government spending is also intended to inject life to the economy, to create employment by direct hiring by government and suppliers. Downstream, even the sari-sari stores had to suffer. The net effect of reduced government spending is reduced cash in circulation, reduced disposable income of families.
In the dip in disposable income, government holding down disbursements of public funds has a temporary effect on disposable income. This dip is offset when the hijacked funds are released to fund massive corruption.
The worst source and reason disposable income is on the dive is the cost of basic necessities and utilities like food, power, water, transportation and others.
In the privatization of utilities, corruption in government is not noticed, this form of corruption deliberately moved away from public attention by the taipan-controlled mainstream media.
How bad business succeeds in bleeding dry the middle class and the poorest in this country is a long story of corruption in our congress and our President who is even more corrupt.
by Ronald Roy
ALMOST exactly a year ago, I wrote a thesis on “judicial activism” in two parts. The first was titled Judicial Activism, dated Nov. 27, 2012, which underscored: “Indeed, unless something drastic is done, a denial of plaintiffs, the People of the Philippines (in the Ampatuan case) may unduly result (in the breach of) xxx the constitutional guarantee of a speedy delivery of justice—alas, a situation showing an unpardonable dearth of courage and innovation on the part of all officially connected with the operations within the criminal justice system (at the core of which is the Supreme Court.)”
Then came a month later Judicial Activism 2, dated Dec. 4, 2012, stressing that: “It is extremely gratifying to note that 6 out of 7 of this column’s readers favor my advocacy of judicial activism as an imperative answer to two legal enigmas, namely, one, in particular to quicken the pace of criminal trial of heinous crimes xxx and two, in general how to beat back the flames (of an incorrigibly corrupt pork barrel system) now rapidly engulfing the (executive and legislative departments).”
In connection with the foregoing, let me set aside P-Noy’s much-publicized management failures in Nur Misuari’s siege of Zamboanga and Super typhoon Yolanda’s massive destruction of lives and properties in Eastern Samar, Leyte and other parts of the Visayas, and instead focus on his presidential mien and mindset in the aftermath of the high court’s lopsided 14-0-1 thumbing down of PDAF as unconstitutional.
Well, he has managed to appear calm and cool as a cucumber in the face of the court’s subtle declaration that his patronage politics was over; but he has not, has he? Surely, not in the face of his revelation before media that he needs more money from Congress for the restoration of normalcy in calamity-ravaged Central Luzon. He must be fidgety these days, wondering how the solons can “come across”, given the Supreme Court’s radical shift to activism and tight watch on them, and given that not only their constituencies but the entire citizenry as well are closely keeping an eye on them.
How then can P-Noy, his Cabinet, the DBM in particular, and Congress perform their mandated roles without the needed funds? It’s obvious they do not deserve our sympathy because they have no one but themselves to blame. They had more than three years to prepare, and when the Zamboanga war, the 7.2 Bohol earthquake and “Yolanda” struck, they were caught flat-footed! And now, the high court is lowering the boom on the unconstitutional features of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)! Ayayay!!
Just think: on three previous occasions, the PDAF (then termed CDF for countryside development fund) was ruled constitutional, but only recently got booted out, thanks to the court’s new-found jugular activism! I really do not care if the nine so-called pro-GMA associate justices “crossed the line” just to get back at P-Noy. The fact is they’ve pushed him ( and his minions) up the wall for some hard reflection: “This is it, the moment of truth has come. DAP, an unauthorized invention by me Butch Abad and other boot-lickers, will surely be declared unconstitutional. There’s no way to escape. Should I now ‘do a Nixon’ with my dignity intact?”
However, this form of honorable exit is wishful thinking. P-Noy will never resign, much less apologize to his bosses, because he reckons it is he who is their boss — his imagined lofty status as an oligarch who “owns and controls” the country. No, he does not steal because hacienda Luisita alone makes him in his mind an enormously wealthy person.
Of course this is twisted thinking by him but, oh well, yes, I think it is if all this talk about his confinement abroad (when he was a kid) for a mental disorder is true. Honestly, I mean no derision and, if the rumor is true, I fervently pray he gets well…unless it’s too late…in which case we’re inextricably stuck in something like a quicksand beneath which lurks a snoring python!!
I take back my previous description of the Supreme Court as the weakest among the three supposedly co-equal and coordinate branches of government, it wielding merely the so-called “power ” of the pen, as against the mighty sword of the Office of the President and Congress’ awesome power of the purse. I was wrong. If at all, it is the Judiciary that is the mightiest among the three branches, since it is the final arbiter over questions of law.
Hence, It was but proper for the high court to put its foot down on what it has identified as a wantonly abusive behavior among executive and legislative officials within the pork barrel system. Thus, in the final analysis, it is the Supreme Court, not another agency or body in government, that is empowered to sustain a healthy democratic balance among the three branches within a structure operating under a Rule of Law.
With fingers crossed, we can now predict the rolling of executive and legislative heads with the high court’s pronouncement that DAP, otherwise known as presidential pork, is likewise unconstitutional. It may then be proclaimed that the high tribunal has proudly hurdled its moment of truth.
- This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism-December 3 (ivoter.com)
- Court Restores India’s Ban on Gay Sex (nytimes.com)
- This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism-November 9 (ivoter.com)
- Scientology Officially a Religion, According to U.K. Supreme Court (world.time.com)
- This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism-November 4 (ivoter.com)
- Indian Supreme Court Bans Gay Sex: What Now? (thoughtcatalog.com)
- We Dissent: Siddharth Narrain (kafila.org)
- Court Restores India’s Ban on Gay Sex – New York Times (nytimes.com)
- India Supreme Court reinstates gay sex ban (jurist.org)
- The Court System and Subversion of Democracy (themoderatevoice.com)
[by Ike Señeres]
IN theory, democracy is really supposed to be participatory. The Constitution and its many laws are in place to make that possible, but up to now, the present reality seems to be very far from the theory. Suffice it to say that even if the mechanisms are already in place, a lot of work still has to be done, much of it in the form of advocacies, programs and projects.
In my previous columns, I have already written extensively about participatory democracy in the barangay level, by way of participation in the Barangay General Assemblies (BGAs). In recent news reports, there has been a lot of coverage about constitutional provisions for a People’s Initiative (PI), a process that would allow ordinary citizens to pass a law as if it was also passed by the Congress. In a manner of speaking, the PI process is also a form of participatory democracy.
As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for”. That is akin to the saying “You reap what you sow”. Perhaps that is really the essence of democracy. You get something if you invest something. If you invest nothing, then you get nothing. Even if our democratic rights are vested upon us by the Constitution, we also have the option of disregarding our rights, perhaps even waiving these. That is probably what happened in the case of barangay governance, because the turnout in the barangay elections is only about ten percent.
Unlike the Sangguniang Barangay wherein the members are only those who are elected in the barangay elections, everyone in the barangay could attend the BGAs, and anyone above 18 could vote for or against all resolutions. According to the Local Government Code (LGC), BGAs are supposed to be convened at least twice a year, but there is no limit as to how many times these could be convened within a given year. How much more participatory could that get?
Aside from the BGAs however, the LGC also provides for the creation and activation of Barangay Development Councils (BDCs), a formal body wherein about half of its members should come from the private sector, as represented by members of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Again, how much more participatory could that get? Taken together, the BGAs and the BDCs could work very well with each other, each one serving a different purpose. As I see it, all that is needed is to coordinate the schedules and the agendas of these two bodies, and the people in the barangay could practically write their own destiny.
As I see it, the coordination between the agendas of the BGAs and the BDCs is only a matter of scheduling. Even if the BGAs are essentially meant for individual participants, the NGOs could still get involved there as groups, acting on behalf of their individual members. The key to that, I think, are the caucuses that could be convened by the groups of active NGOs, so that they could coordinate their agendas before they go to the BGAs.
Just like any assembly or meeting, the ultimate outcomes are really the formal resolutions that could be approved by the BGAs, sitting as full assemblies. As I wrote in my previous columns, the BGAs are in effect the stockholder’s meetings, and these have greater powers than the SBs that are in effect merely board meetings by comparison. The only action that the SBs could do is to ratify the resolutions approved by the BGAs, and the SBs could not change anything.
For practical reasons, it would be good for the NGO caucuses to already prepare draft resolutions for submission to the agendas of the BGAs, instead of writing these drafts during the actual meetings. This would be too late of an action to do, and it would be a waste of time. In order not to waste time, it would be best to show the draft resolutions to the caucus members ahead of time, instead of showing these to them during the meetings when these are already ongoing.
I believe that it is about time that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should allow absentee voting in the BGAs, via internet and mobile means. Although the admissibility of electronic evidence is already provided for in the Electronic Commerce Act (ECA), there appears to be no ruling or legal precedent yet that would allow absentee voting. It may be farfetched, but perhaps it would be possible to try it in one BGA, in order to set the precedent.
As provided for in the LGC, the BDC is just the first layer of LDCs that go all the way up to the Regional Development Councils (RDCs). In theory, all the agendas and resolutions in the lower councils are supposed to go up to the higher councils. What this means is that the agendas and resolutions in the BDCs should actually go up to the Municipal Development Councils (MDCs). In reality therefore, the NGOs or the caucuses of NGOs could always bring their advocacies to the municipal level, if and when they would not succeed at the barangay level.
I recall that there is a popular actress who is said to always get what she wants. Perhaps it is the opposite in the case of barangay residents who could actually get what they want, except that they do not seem to care enough to get it. Meanwhile, many corrupt and incompetent local politicians are having a heyday in lording over barangay governance, perhaps also enjoying the public funds that they are putting into their private pockets.
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- Participatory Budgeting in Korea: Finding Solutions to the Limitations of Representative Democracy (isckoreamedia.wordpress.com)
- San Francisco To Test Online Participatory Budgeting (techcrunch.com)
- Participatory Budgeting; Recycling NYC; Lawyer Bubble; Monogamy (wnyc.org)
- Only losers demand a ban on opinion polls: Arun Jaitley (dnaindia.com)
- The “Declaration of the 58″ and the Distortion of Social Democracy (despinabiri.wordpress.com)
- Virginia GOP: If It Wasn’t For That Dumb ‘Participatory Democracy’ We Could Totes Win Tuesday’s Election (wonkette.com)
- #MillionPeopleMarch It’s about much more than Pork (cynicmeetshope.wordpress.com)
- Citizen Participatory Democracy (peoplesadvocacycouncil.wordpress.com)
- Look for the remedy..The Parliamentary System has been declining…. (dtsreddy.wordpress.com)
- Quick Note to the Americans (whatever.scalzi.com)
by: Ike Señeres
THE bottom line of the pork barrel issue is local governance. In theory, the purpose of the pork barrel is to fund local development needs that could not be “seen” by Congress as it approves the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for each fiscal year. Pursuing that theory, the Congress apparently came up with the legal fiction that whatever could not be “seen” by them as a whole assembly could be seen by the district Congressmen from their own local vantage point.
According to newspaper reports, the Lower House of the Congress has already decided to “scrap” the old pork barrel system, apparently replacing it with a new system that would focus more on line item budgeting, although it seems that the Congressmen could still “recommend” their own local projects subject to the approval of the appropriate House Committee and the corresponding implementing line agencies, i.e. the National Government Agencies (NGAs). #OpinYon #business
read cont | http://bit.ly/15HOA4F
- Abolition of congressional pork a sham (opinion.inquirer.net)
- Palace shows Joker Arroyo’s letter requesting P47M (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Burial assistance among Leyte solons items on their pork barrel (leytesamardaily.net)
- Professor Emeriti Briones and Monsod “grill the pork” in UP PDAF Forum (socialwatchphilippines.wordpress.com)
- Who is guiltier, JLN the fixer or the senator who hired the fixer? (leytesamardaily.net)
- An open letter to President Noy: Abolish pork, seriously. (rappler.com)
- Aquino, Abad, solons: Are you listening? (opinion.inquirer.net)
- The future of the barrels of pork (opinion.inquirer.net)
- Ayala anti-pork march to focus on alternatives, concrete actions (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- ‘Scrap pork barrel, buy pork chicharon,’ vendors say (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
by: Erick San Juan
THE surprise U-turn of US President Barack Obama in attacking Syria over the weekend should be taken with a grain of salt, why is this so? As I have said before (in my writings and in my daily radio program) that a world war (or a regional conflict) is inevitable because of one, economic and two, to unite the citizenry of both the US and China against a perceived outside enemy to avoid domestic violence. And such war/conflict can be delayed but unfortunately will push through as planned by the ‘chosen few.’
As what was reported from various online sources that President Obama had made a second decision: to seek the approval of Congress before launching any strikes. The president said he had listened to members of Congress who had expressed a desire for their voices to be heard, and that he agreed. Although we have to be wary because “Obama insisted the delay did not have any tactical consequences. His most senior military advisor had told him an attack would be “effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now.” (The Guardian online 9/1/13) Meaning the attack will happen in the near future. #OpinYon #Syria#opinion
cont | http://bit.ly/15LOnNA
photo source: kernelpanicx.deviantart.com
- Obama asks Congress to delay Syria vote (bigpondnews.com)
- Obama Makes Case For Action Against Syria (640whlo.com)
- Obama Faces Strong Anti-War Mood in Congress (voanews.com)
- Could President Obama Be Indicted for War Crimes Over Syria Attack? (foxnewsinsider.com)
- The People Say No to War with Syria, Says Sheldon Richman (reason.com)
- Kuwait ruler presses Obama on Guantanamo detainees (star-telegram.com)
- The Long, Withdrawing Roar (freebeacon.com)
- Obama: Not sure I’ll order Syria strike without Congress (usnews.nbcnews.com)
- Putin Puts International Law Before War (canadafreepress.com)