Tonypet J. Rosales | Editor
IT APPEARS the most bloated government department—the Communications Group PNoy—simply can’t get the job done. To arrest the President’s sagging image, the administration is bringing more people into the fray, a move that could spark new hostilities between the Samar and Balay groups in Malacanang.
Since 2010, despite an awesome PR machinery, Malacanang never really got a hold of the public relations game. A series of missteps, snafus, blunders and miscommunications (beginning with the mishandling of the Luneta hostage incident involving a tour bus filled with Chinese nationals) have kept the President’s team of spokespersons and speechwriters busy fending off critics.
On Tuesday, a newspaper report by that the Palace is in “PR crisis mode”, hiring the services of a foreign pollster and political strategist to help reinvent the image of the President after the government’s net approval ratings plummeted to a record low.
The report said a crisis management team under Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. (Samar Group) and a political strategy team under Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas (Balay Group) has been activated to help refurbish PNoy’s image which has taken hit after hit since assuming the presidency in 2010.
A Palace source said Roxas is bringing back one Paul Bograd, the political strategist said to be responsible for Mar’s “Mr. Palengke” brand which made the DILG secretary No. 1 senator back in 2004. Bograd’s assignment: to fix PNoy’s image which suffered massively because of the Supreme Court’s adverse ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
On the other hand, Ochoa has made changes in the Palace media group starting with the appointment of Presidential Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma as presidential spokesperson taking the place of Edwin Lacierda who is identified with Mar’s Balay group.
Ochoa is also said to have reactivated members of the Samar group involved in the 2010 campaign, including television director and PNoy cousin Maria Montelibano. Montelibano served as head of Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM) during the time of President Cory Aquino and was also the designated point-person for media in Noynoy’s 2010 campaign.
While Bograd’s appointment can be considered a slap in the face of Secretary Coloma, observers believe that recent turn of events is symptomatic of a leadership breakdown in Malacanang. The administration is slowly falling apart and may eventually cost the ruling Liberal Party (LP) the 2016 presidential elections.
Seed of Discord
The conflict between the Samar and Balay group started shortly after Mar Roxas lost the vice presidency to Jojo Binay. Balay is the the group that met regularly at the residence of Roxas and its core is composed of the LP leadership together with the Black and White Movement and Ronald Llamas’ Akbayan. Samar Avenue in Quezon City is where Montelibano’s media bureau and Ochoa’s legal team held fort. PNoy sisters Pinky and Ballsy and Sonny Belmonte also regularly joined the Samar meetings.
The difference between the two groups emerged when Balay members started blaming Samar for the emergence of the winning NoyBi (Noynoy-Binay) tandem. In 2010, Mar’s presidential candidacy was floundering (he was usually ranked 4th in the ratings) and things looked up only after he gave way to Aquino and ran for vice president instead.
However, in the last weeks before the elections, Binay eventually caught up with Mar in the ratings.
From sure winner, Roxas became a pathetic loser. The two camps exchanged barbs blaming each other for Mar’s loss with Balay—despite the polls—claiming the Binay win as a fluke. The seed of discord had already planted as early as 2010.
The latest polls showing the President’s net satisfaction ratings at an all-time low, forced both the Samar and Balay groups to reactivate their crisis management teams. The Palace is in panic and by racing to save the President and effect a quick turnaround—Pnoy and company could find himself in even deeper trouble.
Mar’s panic is understandable because his chance of becoming the LP standard bearer and winning the presidency in 2016 is directly proportional to PNoy’s pop ratings. If PNoy crashes and burns, Roxas might as well kiss his presidential aspirations goodbye.
Palace insiders say Ochoa is concerned with the way the LP has handled the DAP issue. The August 23, 2013 speech of the President defending the DAP was reportedly the idea of Roxas who managed to convince PNoy to deliver the speech on primetime television despite Ochoa’s protests.
“Ochoa believes the (Senate President Franklin) Drilon and (Budget Secretary Butch Abad are dragging the President down with them,” the Palace source said.
Abad is the architect of the DAP which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Drilon—who failed on his promise to scrap the Senate pork—tried to make up for his failure with an attempt to salvage the impounded money by circumventing the TRO issued by the SC by having the funds declared as “savings” that the President can use in the event of a calamity. Drilon’s antics reportedly did not sit well with House Speaker Belmonte.
The situation has become a fight for the Aquino-Cojuangco clan’s life that even the “First Bunso” Kris has been put to active PR service.
Kris’ strategy jumps off from PNoy’s recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) where the camera cuts away to the gallery and catches the “Queen of All Media” wiping off her tears as her PNoy mouths off the sacrifices of their parents Cory and Ninoy in his impassioned speech.
On August 1, on the occasion of Cory Aquino’s 5th death anniversary, Kris even hinted on the potential martyrdom of PNoy. “He [Noynoy] can’t do it on his own. We need to stand by him and give him strength. Please pray with us also that he stays alive,” Kris told guests after the Holy Mass at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.
Kris, of course, was alluding to PNoy’s mentioning in his SONA of certain “dark forces” that were supposedly out to get him. While much of what makes the Aquino dynasty great has something to do with death, the idea of President Aquino dying to achieve a PR bonanza is totally out of the question.
If PNoy dies, then Vice President Binay becomes President defeating the whole purpose of initiating an ambitious PR mode to save PNoy’s neck and the LP from a public hanging.
What remains clear is that the scenario in the Palace remains as chaotic as ever with the administration content in plugging loopholes and providing band-aid solutions to the country’s problems. Common sense dictates that it is never wise to have two captains run a PR ship.
Right now, PNoy and company appear secure and safe—just like the passengers of the Titanic.
By Ronald Roy
Any breach of the law is an act classified either as malum in se (bad in itself) or malum prohibitum (bad because it is prohibited). Let us use this as a premise for a clearer understanding of the Supreme Court’s resolution declaring unconstitutional the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). I think that this is necessary for observers who are not lawyers, given the complexity of the facts and the intricacies of the plunder law appurtenant to the criminal cases now before the Sandiganbayan.
An example of an act that is malum in se is stealing. An apprehended thief cannot claim he did not know that there was a law punishing theft. In this case, ignorance of the law will not excuse him because stealing is intrinsically bad, immoral or evil, and even an atheist knows this. An order for restitution and a jail term await him. On the other hand, an example of malum prohibitum is a traffic violation, like parking a car in a no-parking area. The driver will get a fine for this.
In relation to the DAP imbroglio, was the act of the executive department in usurping congress’ power of the purse malum in se or malum prohibitum? This is the essential question.
Under the constitution, congress is vested with the exclusive power to appropriate funds for the operations of government. The constitution and the General Appropriations Act (GAA) were violated when DBM Sec. Florencio Abad, his subordinates and other government functionaries gathered the unused funds of the departments, agencies and offices within the jurisdiction of the president, purportedly for the noble purpose of distributing the same to sundry priority projects to accelerate economic development. Purportedly? Granted.
It may even be further assumed for argument’s sake that the DAP was designed with a mechanism to insulate its operations from graft. Nevertheless, the DAP was still an unwarranted usurpation of the legislature’s exclusive power of the purse. And here’s why: When the executive department wrested away a power exclusively owned by both houses of congress, 1) it created an abhorrent imbalance of power among the three branches of government — a disrupting disequilibrium which no healthy democracy would wish to be home to, and 2) it opened the floodgates of graft, which incidentally is what actually happened in the premises. These are the two situations that the law seeks to prevent.
Last week, I wrote that President Noynoy could not claim good faith because when he was a senator, he authored and sponsored a bill outlawing the DAP which he then saw as evil, although his colleagues ignored him. Well, he’s now hard-pressed to convince anybody that when he woke up one morning, he realized that the DAP was a virtuous concept pala. And so, as a favor to the nation, he authorized its implementation. Ngek!!
In any event, the general consensus of observers is that DBM Sec. Abad now finds himself in deep s – – t. Last week, over a dozen youth leaders led by Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a complaint of the non-bailable crime of Plunder. The youths, acting under Youth Act Now (YAN), a nationwide alliance of youth groups, charged that Abad “conceptualized, developed and implemented the DAP himself, supposedly as an economic stimulus facility”. I’m sorry, but I fear the observers’ jubilant overconfidence will likely go for naught.
The facts of the DAP and the provisions of the plunder law itself are so complicated they will give defense counsel generous lea ways for securing Abad’s acquittal. YAN’s thrust, IMHO, would be virtually trouble-free if it had instead sued Abad for Malversation (Art. 217, Revised Penal Code). A feature in Malversation would have made it much easier to convict Abad, namely, his mere negligence in allowing another or others to illicitly profit from DAP’s operations.
And the effects thereof would be just as damning as in Plunder, viz, the penalty of reclusión perpetua (life imprisonment) if the amount misappropriated or embezzled is more than 22,000 pesos, or reclusión temporal (ten years imprisonment) if 22,000 or less; additionally, Abad would be slapped with perpetual special disqualification from holding public office and a fine equal to the amount involved, not to mention that in appropriate cases there would be prima facie evidence that he had unlawfully profited.
It has long been my belief that PDAF and DAP offenders can be more easily convicted under the provisions of Malversation. Just think: In Plunder, many transactions will usually be needed to reach the threshold of 50 million pesos for conviction, while in Malversation, one transaction will be enough.
Pres. B.S. Aquino lll? Well, his numbers in the lower house shield him against impeachment, but Malversation or the malum prohibitum offense of Technical Malversation will send him to jail after his term.
(To be continued)
For feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org/09186449517
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.
A CASE of ham acting and bad theatrics.
This is how the opposition and critics of the administration described President Benigno Aquino III’s decision to reject the resignation of Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad despite the plunder complaint filed against the latter over the controversial Disbursement Accelerated Program (DAP).
On Friday, Aquino announced his decision to turn down Abad’s resignation submitted Thursday. Abad and several administration officials are in hot water after the Supreme Court declared part of the government’s DAP—created by Department of Budget and Management Circular 541—as unconstitutional.
And, to fortify its “in good faith” defense, former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban went on national television saying Abad and Aquino could not be held accountable for violating the Constitution as proponent and executor of the DAP—unless it is determined that they are guilty of “culpable violation of the law”.
Almost instantly, social media and the news networks were flooded with adverse reactions.
“It’s a bad day for good governance, Navotas Rep. Tobias Tangco, secretary-general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said in a text message describing Aquino’s retention of Abad. “I am waiting for them to sing ‘If We Hold on Together’”.
Renato Reyes, head of the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, called Aquino’s decision to keep Abad in the Cabinet as a “stubborn defense” of DAP. He said the rejection “shows that the President is still in a state of denial regarding the illegality of the DAP. He is protecting Abad and in turn protecting himself.”
For his part, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said Abad should have submitted an irrevocable resignation if the Cabinet official was sincere about taking responsibility for the DAP. “This is merely theatrics meant to ease pressure on himself and Malacañang,” Tinio said in a statement.
“As chief executive, President Aquino swore an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution and execute the laws of the land. This includes respect for and compliance with jurisprudence as embodied in Supreme Court ruling. In loudly and publicly rejecting the ruling on DAP, he is breaking his oath of office,” Tinio added.
Also on Friday, the Senate committee on finance has summoned Abad to make a public accounting on how the Aquino administration spent billions of pesos in public funds released under the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Senator Francis Escudero, the chair of the Senate panel that examines the proposed national budget, asked Abad to appear before a public hearing scheduled July 21.
Escudero directed Abad to submit to the Senate panel the complete list of the all the Special Allotment Release Orders or SAROs that were disbursed under the DAP, including “projects/purpose and the amount of the releases. This is what we have been asking the DBM too since our last committee hearing: where is the list?” Escudero said in a statement.
Abad has not issued any statement on the DAP since it has been declared unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, impeachment complaints against Aquino have meanwhile been submitted to the House of Representatives, which administration congressmen vowed to block.
Described as a “stimulus package to fast-track public spending and to push economic growth on high impact budgetary programs, activities and projects”, the High Court gave three reasons for declaring the DAP unconstitutional: the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriation Act (GAA); the cross-border transfers of the savings of the executive department to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive; and, the funding of activities, projects and programs that were not covered by any appropriation in the GAA.
The Supreme Court also voided the use of “unprogrammed” funds in the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that revenue collections exceeded revenue targets.
Aside from serious concerns about its legality and propriety—of being used as presidential pork barrel for patronage purposes, particularly the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona—the DAP has also been described as economically irrational which is consistent with the notion that the supposed stimulus effect is only a cover for self-serving political agenda.
According to the research, education and development institution Ibon Foundation, the practice of using government spending to stimulate or pump-prime the economy in a situation of low demand is well-established. But to generalize from this and claim that any and all government spending is a stimulus to the economy would render the practice tautological and meaningless.
In a report, Ibon said certain conditions need to be met for the spending to be a genuine stimulus. The most basic is that the quantity of spending must be large enough and occur within a short enough period to actually make a discernible difference. The quality of spending also matters and this should be on items that will have the most immediate and greatest multiplier effect on the economy. Notwithstanding all the justifications that the administration has raised, the DAP did not meet either of these and the so-called stimulus argument is weak.
When questions about the DAP first surfaced, President Aquino claimed that the program stimulated the economy in 2011 and created a momentum that carried on years after.
When the controversy first came out President Aquino himself claimed that the DAP stimulated the economy in 2011 and created a momentum that continued until years after. PNoy also specifically said that the DAP contributed 1.3 percentage points to the growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)in the fourth quarter of 2011; this is considerable considering that growth in that period was just 4.0 percent as reported by the National Statistical Coordinating Board (NSCB). Since the brouhaha, government has released varying, incomplete and inconsistent statements on DAP, but there is nonetheless not enough information to make a sound conclusion.
Early reports from the DBM had total DAP spending of P159.36 billion broken down into P85.53 billion (2011), P58.70 billion (2012) and P15.13 billion (2013). But these DAP magnitudes are not additional to the spending programs for the respective fiscal years of P1,580.0 billion (2011), P1,829.0 billion (2012) and P2,005.9 billion (2013); these figures coming from the latest Budget of Expenditure and Sources of Financing (BESF) documents.
It is therefore important to note that the DAP did not provide additional government spending for any of the years it was implemented and was just, as the acronym suggests, merely an acceleration of the disbursement of budget that were already established under the GAA. This fact makes it grossly inaccurate to claim the DAP as a stimulus package as it did not introduce additional appropriations into the budget, but only changed the manner how these amounts were spent by changing the actual expense items through various means which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional.
Ibon further notes that the DAP was not that all significant. Total government spending – computed as the sum of government final consumption expenditure (GFCE) and public construction from the national accounts measured at current prices – in those same years was P1,132.67 billion, P1,376.10 billion and P1,558.24 billion, respectively. This means that the DAP was just 7.6 percent of total government spending in 2011, 4.3 percent in 2012 and 1.0 percent in 2013. Measured versus the economy the DAP was just 0.9 percent of GDP in 2011, 0.6 percent of GDP in 2012 and 0.1 percent of GDP in 2013.
So even at its peak in 2011, the DAP could not have had any substantial impact on the national economy. The Ibon report even proceeded to compare the DAP with equivalent figures of more genuine stimulus programs. For instance, the US government’s stimulus program – consisting of the $787 billion US economic recovery package of 2009 and $700 billion in Troubled Asset Relief (TARP) funds, unemployment insurance, health care—was, if spent as programmed—equivalent to about 20-30 percent of total annual federal outlays and some 4-6 percent of the US economy.
Meanwhile, stimulus packages in other countries in 2009 were also similarly large or larger, such as: Malaysia (7.9 percent of GDP), China (4.8 percent), Spain (4.5 percent), Germany (3.4 percent), Thailand (2.8 percent), Korea (2.7 percent), Indonesia (2.5 percent) and Japan (2.2 percent).
Still, to claim the DAP accounted for 1.3 percentage points of the 4.0 percent GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2011 would have been meaningful if true, because then it would have accounted for more than one-fourth of the economic growth. But again, this 1.3 percentage point contribution to was not actually just of the DAP but rather of total government consumption and public construction for the period (of which the DAP was just a small part of). The contribution of DAP-related spending to economic growth is likely just one-fourth of a percentage point at most in the fourth quarter of 2011 and less than a tenth of a percentage point for 2011 as a whole.
But since there is no accounting yet of how the DAP was spent, it could even be possible that for it to have reduced the contribution of the national budget to economic growth. If it is true that portions of the DAP were lost to corruption or for bribing lawmakers to vote for the removal of Chief Justice Corona, it is possible that instead of being spent in the real economy the DAP has been lost to hidden bank accounts here—or even abroad.
With the DAP dwarfing the amount of money involved in the PDAF scandal an immediate accounting of where and how it was spent is required if Aquino and company want to come clean and get themselves out of the public crosshairs.
Problem is, there is no available information of the criteria applied by the government in deciding which projects to fund through the DAP or how it chose which projects to in effect discontinue by realigning funds away from them. A complete listing of the project also remains unavailable and a cursory glance of what projects have been made public is more than enough to cast doubt on how the administration utilized the funds which is several-fold bigger than the amount involved in the PDAF scandal.
Included in the items of alleged prima facie dubious stimulus impact are: PhP30 billion capital infusion to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP); PhP8.6 billion for Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) peace and development interventions; PhP5.4 billion in landlord compensation; PhP3.4 billion in GSIS premium payments; PhP1.8 billion for the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF); PhP1.5 billion for the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA); PhP1.6 billion for the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) DREAM project; PhP1.1 billion for human resource development of BPOs; PhP750 million to settle the tax liabilities of the National Power Corporation; PhP666 million for the Department of National Defense (DND); and others.
The issue is not whether these identified expenditures are desirable, but if they have had any significant impact on the economy. The ultimate objective of any supposed stimulus package is to increase aggregate demand. The multiplier effect of any particular amount of government spending is however diminished if it is spent for foreign goods and services rather than locally, if it is not spent by the recipients, if it is not spent on labor-intensive projects, and so on. The situation therefore demands greater transparency on the part of the Aquino administration which is presently engaged in bringing the perpetrators of the PDAF scandal to justice.
A Cabinet secretary tendering his resignation and a President rejecting the same is simply not enough to address the issue and to calm the brewing storm.
A year ago, this week, July 12-15, 2013, the PDI came out with a four part series on the Napoles PDAF/Pork Scandal. The PDI Expose came out of the three months “Serious Illegal Detention” of Benhur Lim Luy by Janet Lim Napoles and brother, Raynald “Jojo” Lim from Dec 19 to March 22. Then there were attempts (the retention of the MOST Law Firm and a letter to President Aquino from JLN seeking assistance against harassment by the NBI.) to cover up and hush up the said crime. Atty. Baligod and the Family of Benhur Lim Luy went to the PDI on April 27, 2013 and turned over Benhur’s Computer Hard Drive with 2,156 folders and 20,103 files.
Since then, we have been analyzing, projecting, wondering, what will be the end result of all of these. Our predictions and projections have swung back and forth, to and fro, principle to practical. A mere month and a half after the first PDI series, we thought that we were on the verge of another popular revolution (July 12-August 26). However, every month that passed since then, September, October, November, December and so on, the instant indignation and mobilization of July and August was disassembled and whittled down.
Even, the Tuesday, November 19, 2013, Supreme Court decision that PDAF was unconstitutional seemed to contribute to the pacification of public opinion. The proverbial final nail on the coffin was the paltry and pathetic June 12, 2014 Coalition or Movement Rally at the Bonifacio Shrine behind the Manila City Hall. Meanwhile, Bayan and other likely suspects held their rally at the Liwasang Bonifacio and proceeded to Mendiola after. The quantity as well as the quality of the Million People March to Luneta had been dissipated by Disunity, Dogma, Pride, Purism, Selfishness, Suspicion, and what have you.
Before you read on: Beware “Do Gooders”, “Holier Than Thous”, “Mayabangs”, “Pharisees”, “Purists” and Swapangs”. You might not like what you will read. Welcome “Balimbings”, “Half Breeds”, “Mestizos” “United Fronters”. Pray, keep your Hearts and Minds Open!
People are born, develop and grow up with two sides to the brain – Art and Science, Creativity and Logic, Language and Numbers, Love and Likes. My Left Brain must have been bigger. I was better with numbers than with language. However, in my late High School years and even more during College, my Right Brain caught up with my Left Brain and even overtook it. This was just in time for the 70’s as in the “First Quarter Storm!”
Subsequently, I realized that six decades of Politics and Protest taught me a new Political/Protest kind of Math. I learned that: 1 + 1 is not = 2, its 3. 10 divided into two is not 5 and 5, its 3 & 3. The other 4 just evaporated. I learned the value of Coalitions, Compromise, getting together and Unity. I learned too the other side of the coin, Disunity, Division, Dogmatism, Going It Alone and Purism.
Both at close range and from a distance, I learned about and observed political failure and success. One of the longest running political failures was the Jesuit/Ateneo inspired purist third force that fielded a separate slate of candidates in the National/Presidential Elections of 1957 and 1965 (PPP – as in Party for Philippine Progress and Progressive Party of the Philippines), and the Local/Midterm Elections of 1959 (Grand Alliance). Double blinded Noynoy (an Atenean like Manglapus.) may yet turn the success story of his parents’ double deaths and martyrdoms into the biggest family tragedy because of his narrow mindedness. On the other hand, we have had a myriad of political successes when even strange bed fellows got together. The following are examples of how the heterogeneous as opposed to the homogenous came about achieving their common objectives.
In 1946, the Liberator, Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur supported the Collaborator, Manuel Acuna Roxas for President. In 1953, the Nacionalista Party adopted LP President Elpidio S. Quirino’s Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay as its Presidential candidate. The latter had been an LP Congressman.
Then, in 1961, the Grand Alliance/PPP and the LP coalesced as the United Opposition Party (with Diosdado Macapagal and Emmanuel Pelaez for President and Vice President. Raul S. Manglapus and Manuel Manahan of the GA/PPP captured the first two slots for Senator.) and defeated the NP’s incumbent re-electionist President Carlos P. Garcia.
In 1965, former LP Congressman, Senator and Senate President Ferdinand E. Marcos won the NP nomination for Presidential candidate. With Fernando Lopez as his Vice Presidential running mate, they defeated the incumbent LP President Diosdado Macapagal and running mate Senator Gerardo “Gerry” Roxas. Senators Raul S. Manglapus and Manuel Manahan, the Purists, came in third.
In the 1970’s, Moderates and Radicals came together and came apart several times over. In the February 7, 1986, Snap Elections, Corazon “Cory” C. Aquino and Salvador “Doy” Laurel were perceived as having been the real winners because they had come together in one slate at the last minute.
In 1992, Lakas, NUCD and UMDP coalesced to field FVR. After he won the count and proclamation, Ramos made peace with all of his rivals, namely, NPC”s Danding Cojuangco, LDP’s Ramón V. Mitra, LP’s Jovito Salonga, KBL’s Imelda Romualdez Marcos and Unido’s Salvador “Doy”: Laurel, except for PRP’s Miriam Defensor Santiago. In 1995, in a Marriage of Convenience, Lakas and LDP put up a common twelve man Senatorial Slate.
In 1998, the LDP, LP, NPC, PDP and PMP coalesced behind Erap against the Lakas, NUCD, UMDP, Kammpi and defeated Speaker Joe de Venecia. However, the Kammpi’s GMA beat Angara for the VP. In March 2000, the Binamira’s, Pedrosa’s, Jun Enriquez and Linda “Inday” Montayre and Linggoy Alcuaz launched the Exclamation Point Sticker in the Silent Protest Movement. In the run up to EDSA II, Boy Saycon and Popoy Lagman, Peping S. Cojuangco and Vic Ladlad teamed up to Oust Erap. In 2004, Erap and Jun Enriquez got together. From 2004 to 2009, Orange and Red worked side by side.
From sometime in the past until November 29, 2007, the RA and RJ factions of the Left were often in the same coalitions. In 2007, Uno and GO defeated GMA and the Lakas’s Coalition at the Senatorial level. In 2013, Grace Poe ran under the LP and came out # 1. The future may show Pastor “Boy” Saycon and Erap together again.
All of these examples don’t mean that in this more complicated age that the strange bedfellows have to be formally together and united in their objectives to defeat the enemy. After all, as the lesson of the lost August 26 Million People March to Luneta shows, it is impossible to unite everybody. All they have to do is to aim their attacks at the same targets – Aquino and Abad, and not at each other. The Supreme Court Decision declaring the DAP unconstitutional lays the foundations for a common target range. The targets are now much bigger than Napoles of the Ten Billion Scam.
Happy Birthday Pastor Boy Saycon!
By Ronald Roy
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “hypocrisy” as the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion. There are disturbing reasons to believe that the much-touted daang matuwid (righteous path) slogan of Pres. B.S. Aquino lll qualifies as a shuddering example of the definition.
Good attracts while evil repels, and this explains the slogan’s proselytizing power. The Tagalog catchphrase is excellent political fodder for largely religious, fanatical, and superstitious Filipinos. They are, to a fault, easily beguiled by the slogan, the same way they are often finagled by quick-money operators who build bogus shrines and sell fake healing water.
Needless to state, the slogan’s large-scale deception is pernicious to our floundering democracy, and only our citizens, if reawakened and unshackled from the yellow camp’s “Rasputinean” enticements, can be their own saviors. However, most of us didn’t believe then Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s claim that God had ordered her to ignore the public clamor for her resignation because He wanted her to continue her good work for the country; so maybe there is hope P-Noy’s bewitching mantra will fizzle out.
But, is there? My persistent irritation is that: despite the president’s slowly diminishing popularity, his slogan still appears to be getting the better of us. Without rattling in public, he quietly seethes with anger whenever confronted by legitimate dissent. And he is good at appearing virtuous, notwithstanding his obviously undemocratic contempt for opposition leaders, vis-à-vis his overwhelmingly indecent defense of misbehaving political allies.
He is a bad sport. His kind of politics is dirty and foul-ridden; and if governance were a basketball game, he would have already been ejected and banned for life which, in reality, is a possibility now that the Supreme Court has unanimously declared DAP ( disbursement acceleration program) to be unconstitutional.
The sovereign people’s anguished cry for justice and restitution of their money has been heeded by the high tribunal, and this for the moment is a reassurance that our magistrates’ principal concern is the people’s welfare — a welcome reminder that the high court is the ultimate rampart for an oppressed citizenry, and that it stands ready to play an activist role to countercheck the abusive executive and legislative departments. But this is only the start of a long, daunting struggle.
As expected, impeachment of the president quickly came to the public psyche on the day of the official announcement of the tribunal’s resolution and, as of this writing, countless theories have evolved regarding its impracticality, futility and legal untenability, as bandied about by the Palace and its cohorts; and most likely, by the time this article’s been published, a number of impeachment complaints have already swamped the lower house’s impeachment committee.
Predictably, not one of them will prosper, impeachment being a political exercise, a numbers game, where P-Noy’s lackey, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, is in full control, not to mention the president’s bottomless kitty for political self-preservation. The DAP reportedly funded the removal of impeachment respondent CJ Renato C. Corona, and it is ironic that the high tribunal’s subject DAP decision now portrays his tormentor, President Noynoy, as having received a dose of his own medicine. Karma?
As I wrote in a previous article, do not expect P-Noy to fire DBM Sec. Butch Abad who is generally seen as the brains and/or orchestrator of the DAP. How could P-Noy, really, have the heart to dump Abad whose wrongful acts he had authorized or acquiesced to? However, a charge of Technical Malversation against Abad is being studied, according to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. Good move, although this could be a clever ploy that effectively diverts attention and pressure from P-Noy. Resignation? I do not think Abad will “take the bullet” for his master by stepping down. I hear this guy is a kapit-tuko of the kapal-muks variety.
So, what have we got before us? The spectacle, no less, of a graft-ridden administration on survival mode, fiercely banking on the power of its hypocritical daang matuwid to convince us: that we have a virtuous leader who rules the country with the best of intentions, by using our money for allegedly legitimate and noble purposes, and without pocketing a single peso, and that this declaration should be enough to shield him against accountability. HUH??? I disagree.
Their unbearably monotonous refrain of “good intentions” and “good faith” must now be laid to rest in the face of the Supreme Court’s statement that the Palace is not yet off the hook, not till the DAP’s sponsors can prove good faith.
Well, P-Noy and cohorts are finished, and here’s why. Senate records show that Sen. Noynoy sponsored a bill to outlaw the DAP because he saw it as an evil. But his colleagues rejected it. Therefore, he has been in bad faith all along. He should graciously resign if only to reduce the ignominy of being tagged as a hypocrite.
THE Aquino administration is in a quandary.
Shortly after putting senators Bong Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada behind bars for their alleged involvement in the PhP10-billion pork barrel scam and issuing a warrant against former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, government is now beset with a problem bigger than pilferage of the PDAF—that of the issue of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Designed as a stimulus package to fast-track public spending and economic and push economic growth—which was supposedly being hampered by a prevailing under-spending in government disbursements—President Aquino approved the DAP in October 2011 upon the recommendation of the Development Budget Coordination Committee and the Cabinet Clusters.
From its approval and throughout 2012-2013 government spent a total PhP142.23 billion in realigned savings from different government agencies on a total 116 DAP-funded budgets. And in declaring the practice to be in violation of the Constitution, the High Tribunal cites the culpability of the proponents and implementers of the illegal government program.
The chief architect of this budget impounding system is Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, the same person whom some quarters have accused of orchestrating and providing tutelage to the players and con artists of the PDAF scam.
If the PDAF scam lists senators and congressmen as possible conspirators, the DAP tags the Office of the President—President PNoy—for approving a program that is against the fundamental laws of the land.
In defense, Malacanang said it “acted in good faith” when it spent hundreds of billions in public funds circumventing the provisions of the Constitution via the DAP. Also, being unconstitutional—in the words of Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda—should not be equated to criminality. Acting in good faith could be taken as the government’s admission of incompetence or an ignorance of the law, with both providing no excuse for the commission of an illegal act.
Because the DAP is very similar to the PDAF in many respects including the funding of projects identified by lawmakers, it is not easy to accept that the line that DAP was money well spent and the thievery was limited to the PDAF.
The PDAF involved an amount less than one percent of the total national budget and the DAP spending is ten times that of the money that Janet Lim Napoles and her co-accused were able to stick their fingers into.
If PDAF is just “pocket change”—Napoles and company are just petty thieves. An audit of the DAP and national budget could lead us to the big-time crooks and the smooth criminals in government.
By Ray L. Junia, Publisher
THIEVES continue to steal the future of this country.
Nothing can be more unreal than the government claim of economic gains trumpeted by Malacañang spin masters as the best in our part of the world.
The latest gesture of courtesy by an honored guest to his host, a World Bank top official saying the Philippines is on its way to become Asia’s economic tiger, made the headlines in our national media. This made us laugh. This WB seer is either the worst prophet or best in PR that envoys are trained to be.
Motoo Konishi, WB country director for the Philippines, cited macroeconomic strength of the economy for his trust in our future. He fails to see the sick trees inside what appears to be a beautiful forest. This is unfortunate as we expect bankers to be more forthright and honest and if they cannot be honest they better just shut up.
The Philippines is doomed to become tail ender in the race for economic gains in Asia if not the world. It is our destiny to be always poor. We have our reasons to believe so.
Corruption is the root cause of the country’s economic miseries. Cost of living, driven by high cost of basic necessities, is too high, seventy percent of the population has been declared poor.
Stealing from government coffers has not abated, even got worse with the President illegally spending Php177 Billion on DAP from the national budget. To think that other agencies are victims of the same thievery that ultimately ends up with the people suffering.
This thievery and corruption is the first reason responsible investors are not coming in and may even be packing up.
Latest report from the Philippine Statistics Authority on the foreign investments (FI) shows a sharp decline in the first quarter of 2014 compared to same period last year.
In the first quarter of 2014, FIs approved by seven investment promotion agencies amounted to Php37.4 Billion. This is 25.6 percent lower than the take in the same period last year. In 2013, FIs were Php50.3 Billion.
FDIs tell the story
On foreign direct investments (FDI), the Philippines is the tail ender, far way below the second lowest.
The average take by the country on FDIs between 2002 and 2012 was US$2.7Billion, the lowest while Singapore, a city state, got the highest at US$52.8Billion. Vietnam got second lowest with US$8.5B, better by over US$5B.
Even the numbers on FDIs in relation to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) can cause investors to shy away from us. In the first two years of the Aquino administration, we registered again the lowest in ASEAN countries.
In 2010, net FDI was 0.7 percent of GDP and this declined to 0.6 percent in the following year, 2011. Compared with neighbor countries our net FDI was the worst and almost sick situation. Our neighbors did much better: Singapore 25.1%, Vietnam 6.2%, Malaysia 4.3%, Thailand 2.8% and Indonesia 2.2%.
In the measure of impact of the FDI to population or per capita shares, it will tell a clearer picture of the cause of our economic woes. On this measure, our FDI per capita is lowest at US$ 13.3 while Singapore registered the highest at US$ 12,347.00.
These figures covering the period ended 2011. Three years after, when poverty incidence has gone up and prices of basic goods and services have hit the ceiling, this situation could be lot worse.
The first look at our numbers will not encourage serious investors to come in. discouragement will set in when they find out why we are the cellar. The reason is massive corruption that has worsened during the Aquino administration.
It’s corruption, stupid!
Pulling down interest and trust by foreign investors in our country and national leadership are several reasons: high cost of electricity, lack of infrastructure and worsening peace and order and corruption.
While corruption is last in the list of reasons, it is the principal cause of reasons the country is losing the trust of investors.
The cost of electricity in the Philippines being highest in Asia and second highest in the world can be traced to massive corruption in the highest offices of the land, from Malacañang to Congress, down to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
On infrastructure, the national leadership has turned over this responsibility to the private sector. From supply of power, to supply of water, to use of roads, to building of transport, and airports, these are all now being given out to private investors.
Our national leaders call this Public-Private Partnership or PPP. This is one marriage that was intended to legitimize rape.
How else would one describe a situation like what the Filipinos are going through now. Before privatization, cost of electricity was one of the lowest in Asia, roads were free to use, cost of water was affordable and cost of living allowed free money to spend outside of the essentials.
The national economy is now controlled by forty families. Eighty percent of national wealth is owned by 10 percent of the population. Ninety percent share the remaining 20 percent of national wealth. This situation has led to daily “rape” of every poor Filipino’s right to a decent living.
Now we have to pay for use of highways we call toll roads. The national leadership intentionally stopped building big roads to the big city to justify entry of toll roads.
What happened to cost of electricity and cost in use of roads are examples of well planned grand robbery. Government neglected building new power stations while neglecting national roads, stirring consumers to demand for better services. Privatization became the only solution, offering lower cost that never happened and, worse, cost doubled if not tripled.
Government leaders said privatization saves the government of funding services that are obligations of government. These government duties are supposed to be supported by our taxes. This cost transfer led to savings that allowed Malacañang to “steal” Php177 Billion for DAP and tens of billions for PDAF.
Theft came from many points: at the privatization arrangement when investors would show interest and put his money where his mouth is. Second, at the national budget that would have been spent for these basic services given to the private group. This savings turns out be pork barrel of Malacañang, in the case of Aquino is Php177 Billion in two years, misappropriated and misspent.
Even when privatization became a solution to our infrastructure needs, still serious investors are saying the country is short of what are needed to gain their trust.
One leading complaint is our problem in communications. Even when Smart earns billions of pesos for Manny V. Pangilinan and Globe has multiplied several folds the billions of the Ayalas, the foreign groups are not still happy with our communications system.
Truth is not only the foreign investors are complaining but the locales are also complaining of being short changed by these telecom companies.
Privatization not free
Privatization is not free to the taxpayers. In 2012, President Aquino gave the DOTC Php8.6 Billion and the DPWH Php3 Billion for the preparation of business cases, pre-feasibility studies and feasibility studies for various PPP ventures.
In inviting private sector participation, the government waives many requirements that would have earned the national treasury billions of pesos. Of course these exemptions are always suspect to be products of under-the-table negotiations that line up the pockets of government executives and legislators.
The sum total of reasons this country will not move forward and bring economic relief to the poor is we have elected officials who serve the interests of their masters and not the interests of the people. We have national leaders who boldly steal, unmindful of constitution and laws, as if the public does not exist.
The “theft” of Php177 billion by Malacañang is just a symptom of a more serious malady. The effect of this disease is a society that will always be abused and used to enrich further enrich the billionaires and make new millionaires of those we trust to lead our government. This is because we have elected thieves to run our government.
Some labor groups are not impressed with the arrests of senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, as the arrests are seemingly selective, and at best, superficial.
Progressive groups under the banner of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) condemned the selective arrests of three members of the opposition by the Aquino administration, citing that it is only one of the government’s diversionary tactics to appease the angry masses in calling for accountability.
Youth group Anakbayan says that the administration’s tactic only aims to limit the scope of prosecution in the pork barrel scam.
“We can call for accountability all day long, but the Aquino administration will not give us genuine accountability, ” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.
Aquino on the defensive for his allies involved in the alleged corruption cases are among factors on why genuine accountability will not happen under his administration.
Aquino is using all his power to contain the anger of the Filipinos and redirect them to members of the opposition involved in the scam while his involved allies enjoy the privilege of his protection.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma stated that the palace has a “new media team” that collected the data on the negative impact of Sen. Bong Revilla’s speech on the internet.
Different organizations continue to point out how the administration is wasting the people’s taxes by collecting this kind of data which only aims to serve the interest of Aquino and his allies.