Twenty-eight (28) complainants from various anti-pork groups
file impeachment complaint vs BS Aquino

 

House of Representatives

 

 July 21, 2014

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Photos by Arkibong Bayan and Charlotte Job Despuez/Bayan Muna
           
     
     
     

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July 20, 2014
Streetwise:
The point of no return for Mr. ‘Straight Path’
by Dr. Carol Araullo

PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III’s bullheaded and combative speech televised nationwide last Monday has turned the tide against Malacaang in its defense of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). It revealed Mr. Aquino’s dark side. Rather than be introspective, if not a bit humbled, by the unanimous Supreme Court decision, the “tuwid na daan” President was more self-righteous than ever.

A chorus of voices -- from legal experts to pundits to netizens -- is thumbing down Mr. Aquino’s barefaced assertion: “The DAP is good. Our intentions, our processes, and the results were correct.”

Apart from the established administration critics and oppositionists, there are the legal experts who opine a principle that they say any law school freshman would know: the Palace cannot anchor its motion for reconsideration on a mere section of the 1987 Administrative Code. The Constitution trumps the Administrative Code anytime should there be any conflict.

But obviously Mr. Aquino is not banking on legal arguments to make the Court see things his way. Apart from berating the justices about purportedly deciding without studying the government’s defense of the DAP, Mr. Aquino effectively threw down the gauntlet before the Court. He even warned that he can sic his allies in Congress and his yellow crowd on the Court, constitutional crisis be hanged!

But the odds are against him. The Court as an institution must hold its ground or risk losing what remains of its credibility and independence. Individual justices who are vulnerable to impeachment because of skeletons in their closet also stand to lose whatever high moral and political ground they attained with the DAP and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) decisions. But more important, any flip-flopping by the Court at this point can only add fuel to the fire and damage, perhaps irretrievably, public respect for the judiciary.

Mr. Aquino’s massaged popularity ratings have suffered a steep decline. And to think that the Social Weather Station survey was conducted even before the DAP ruling. A majority of the people feel betrayed by another elite administration whose populist rhetoric they had desperately clung to.

Mr. Aquino is deluded if he thinks he can muster a spontaneous outpouring of support from the people who may have been earlier hoodwinked into believing his anti-corruption and good governance rant. Another speech before businessmen added a measure of ludicrousness to Mr. Aquino’s growing predicament. His plea for people to “tie a yellow ribbon” to show their support for his administration has fallen on deaf ears -- so much so that his spokesman has had to tell the public not to take it seriously.

Duh? Maybe it is time for Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman to sing “If we hold on together...”

Meanwhile, calls for an independent DAP audit grow stronger even after Malacaang released its list of 116 projects that the DAP had supposedly funded “in good faith.” These are alongside complaints by reported beneficiaries that the DAP funds were misspent or never reached them. The public is just not taking Malacaang’s word for it anymore.

On July 24, the Senate Finance Committee headed by an Aquino ally will be hearing the Department of Budget and Management’s report on the DAP. Perhaps this is a signal that the senators who received from 50 million to a hundred million pesos in additional lump sum from the DAP are not willing to take the bullet for Mr. Aquino and his now isolated Budget Secretary.

An impeachment complaint from cause-oriented organizations and various anti-pork groups is due to be filed today. A significant number of these folk had always stopped short of saying that Mr. Aquino was himself accountable. But last week’s speech infuriated and convinced them that Mr. Aquino is indeed guilty of culpable violations of the Constitution.

Certainly the impeachment complaint faces stiff opposition in the pork-fed, patronage politics-driven Congress. But his hold on Congress can still become unexpectedly loosened as Mr. Aquino’s political fortunes suffer a massive downturn. Remember that many of Mr. Aquino’s current allies were not so long ago loyalists of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They are, after all, mostly just politicians in the business of profiting handsomely from public office, and they are not averse to abandoning a sinking ship of state.

At the minimum, the impeachment process means that Mr. Aquino and his DAP will be further subjected to close public scrutiny. He won’t easily get away with his blithe and folksy explanations. Neither will his amateurish legal opinions wash.

Many people are saying that Mr. Aquino’s real character is becoming unmasked: his sense of entitlement as scion to cacique overlords reflects on his unwillingness to accept criticism, his penchant for picking a fight, and bullying those who are not in a position to defend themselves -- the peasants in his clan’s hacienda.

Others observe that his high popularity ratings have gone to his head. He believes his own propaganda that the successful impeachment of Arroyo-appointed Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and the Senate conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona is proof of his political mettle when these were paid off by presidential pork.

No, Yolanda didn’t teach him anything. No matter that international media made him out to be an incompetent Chief Executive with a habit for covering up his administration’s gross failings. The Basic Bangsamoro Law has been mangled by Malacaang even before it can be sent to Congress. It seems his rah-rah people headed by Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles even had the temerity to try to nominate him for the Nobel peace prize. But that didn’t go very far.

The call for Mr. Aquino to step down is gaining traction by the day. Filipinos are not new to the ouster of an incumbent president via an unarmed uprising. The shift in support among power centers dominated by the elite bears watching.

But then there is another peaceable way out for Mr. Aquino. Resign.

Carol Pagaduan-Araullo is a medical doctor by training, social activist by choice, columnist by accident, happy partner to a liberated spouse and proud mother of two.

carol_araullo@yahoo.com


 

At the Congress Conference Room
     
     
           
     
     
     

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JULY 19, 2014

Hubris in the Palace
By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Streetwise | BusinessWorld

Ergo, there will be no sacrificial lambs even if one of the most likely candidates, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, is actually the intellectual author and chief implementor of the DAP. Of course Mr. Abad’s boss gave his imprimatur, knowingly and willingly, as documents submitted to the Court and Mr. Aquino’s own avowals prove without a doubt.

According to the Palace, the President’s lawyers are still studying his legal options. Mr. Abad claims that the SC overlooked Article VI, Section 25 (5) of the 1987 Charter giving the President the authority to augment appropriations using savings. Apparently the Budget Secretary has not seriously studied the Court decision since he clearly missed out on one of its main parts — the way the Executive wrongfully categorized certain funds as “savings” when these could not have been so classified and treated as such.

Considering the time and effort the Court spent on the DAP before issuing a unanimous decisio, did Mr. Aquino think that he would have a chinaman’s chance of overturning the Court decision? Or is this just a way to buy time while Mr. Aquino’s not-so-bright boys scramble to do damage control and reduce the widening political fallout.

But then again we suspected that Mr. Aquino would buck the DAP decision, what with the graceful exit the Court gave Malacaang: the declaration that only acts and practices under DAP are unconstitutional and not the DAP itself; the gratuitous acceptance that the DAP was what it was intended to be, a budget mechanism to stimulate the economy; the uncritical acceptance that the DAP benefitted the public because of infrastructure such as schoolhouses, roads and bridges it funded; the blind eye to the Palace admission that the billions of additional funds channeled to the senators who had voted for Corona’s impeachment came from the DAP; and the lack of specificity as to who was responsible for running hoops around the exclusive power of Congress to appropriate funds.

Justice Marvic Leonen’s separate opinion is a study in legal circumlocution and obfuscation that ends up helping Malacaang evade responsibility and shirk accountability. It is quoted by a columnist who is the President’s brother-in-law as the basis for arriving at the conclusion that the DAP, being “complex,” had only its parts declared unconstitutional and not its entirety, that the justices were not in unanimity over its decision and that “the presumption of good faith is a universal one.”

Too bad for Mr. Aquino and his DAP cohorts, the justices were able to see through the DAP’s obvious violation of the Constitution.

Malacanang’s excuses are getting tied up in knots. From Mr. Aquino’s imperious public declaration on national television that the DAP is legal, innovative, transparent, beneficent and clean, he now has to fall back on legal hair-splitting to try to escape from the impeachable charge of culpable violation of the Constitution.

With the testimony of Mr. Benhur Luy and other whistleblowers in the Napoles pork barrel scam that some of the senators’ DAP funds went to Napoles’ fake NGOs, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda now belatedly admits that maybe DAP was not spent entirely without anomaly. Still, he thunders that only 9% of DAP were ladled out to the senators who coincidentally all voted to impeach Chief Justice Corona.

Mr. Lacierda then challenged these senators to explain where their DAP monies went.

This hypocritical stance has caused umbrage among implicated senators. Senator Chiz Escudero, head of the Senate Committee on Finance, has countered with a demand that the Budget Department make a full accounting of the DAP funds.

Despite the Court directive to provide a complete listing of where the DAP funds were spent, Malacaang has not done so. Even after the DAP decision came out, it still refuses to come clean on this matter to the point that even the media are asking why the DAP list of expenditures is top secret. The lame excuse given by Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma that the matter is sub judice is laughable.

Only a thorough special audit can determine whether the DAP funds were given to political allies of the President and the ruling Liberal Party as some suspect, and whether these were taken from vital social services like health care only to be lost to non-priority projects, or worse lost to the corruption mill. Unfortunately, the current Commission on Audit (COA) chair has already prejudged the issue with her earlier defense of the DAP and refusal to conduct a special audit when asked by anti-pork groups.

To top it all, here comes Mr. Aquino believing his own propaganda that he is God’s gift to Filipinos, finally going on air only to say he will not accept the token resignation of Secretary Abad because he “can’t accept doing right by our people is wrong.”

The message Mr. Aquino is sending is one of defiance and derision of the Court’s decision on the DAP. Mr. Aquino is now asserting that he is not bound to follow the highest court of the land because he has a different interpretation of he ruling, because he knows he has done no wrong (and by extension his Cabinet secretaries as his alter egos have also done nothing wrong), and because he is supposedly on the straight and narrow path for which his people love and support him unconditionally.

In other words he is above reproach and above any accountability. Methinks if this abusive Chief Executive cannot be shamed to resign or be impeached, he deserves to be ousted.

Carol Pagaduan-Araullo is a medical doctor by training, social activist by choice, columnist by accident, happy partner to a liberated spouse and proud mother of two.

carol_araullo@yahoo.com

Published at The Business World
July 13, 2014

- See more at:
http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/07/19/hubris-in-the-palace/#sthash.4KYirMdl.dpuf

 

     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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GOOD FAITH? GOOD GRIEF!
By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Streetwise | BusinessWorld
july 12, 2014

The Supreme Court declaration of the unconstitutionality of “acts and practices under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP),” coming on the heels of the detention of senators charged with plunder for amassing hundreds of millions of public funds from the abuse of their pork barrel, appears to be yet another boost to the clamor for abolishing the entire pork barrel system.

Some political analysts, however, see the decision to be favorable to Malacañang. While the main components of the DAP, which is basically presidential “pork,” have been stricken down as unconstitutional — and therefore illegal — the DAP can still be excused as “well-intentioned” and having a “positive impact” on the economy. Its authors, proponents and implementors, because they allegedly acted in “good faith,” are therefore not politically, civilly or, worse, criminally liable.

In contrast, legislators, executive officials and private individuals like the notorious Janet Lim Napoles indicted for the multi-billion-peso PDAF scam must face the full force of the law. In fact, the Yellow Media lauds the Aquino administration for going after Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile, notwithstanding the obvious special treatment accorded them.

Unfortunately for respondents President BS Aquino, Budget Secretary Butch Abad and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, the opposite public reaction is gaining ground.

Many deem the decision as basis for holding them criminally liable for:

- illegally taking funds appropriated by Congress for specific national agencies with a corresponding listing of “program, activity or project” (PAP), declaring these as savings, and spending them on activities that are not even covered by the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

- illegally transferring the funds pooled into the DAP to other departments of government such as the legislature and the judiciary and to independent constitutional bodies.

- illegally using the Unprogrammed Fund despite the absence of a certification by the National Treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets as required by the GAA.

Justice Antonio Carpio minced no words in a cogent separate opinion: “Under the DAP and NBC 541, the President disregards the specific appropriations in the GAA and treats the GAA as the President’s self-created all-purpose fund, which the President can spend as he chooses without regard to the specific purposes for which the appropriations are made in the GAA… In short, the President under the DAP and National Budget Circular (NBC) 541 usurps the power of the purse of Congress.”

Let us do a layman’s review of what checks and balances mean with regard to the national budget. Congress has the power to appropriate funds to the national agencies’ PAPs, upon recommendation of the Budget Department. With the enactment of the GAA, these PAPs will be implemented by the Executive Department headed by the President who manages and spends public funds according to the GAA.

These two functions are given to separate branches in order to provide safeguards that trillions of pesos of the people’s money are not spent based on the arbitrary, whimsical and biased dictates of patronage politics, or for graft and corruption. Moreover, it is a way of holding the Executive to account given the vast powers and prerogatives of the Presidency.

So this is the full import of the SC decision. The President is not free to withdraw unobligated funds (that is, funds that are not yet bound to be paid out under contract) and pool these funds — duly appropriated by Congress for specific purposes — into a mechanism that allows the President unlimited power to juggle such funds at his discretion and for his own purposes.

Aquino’s defenders counter that the DAP funds were not abused, wasted or stolen unlike the PDAF. The SC decision and several separate opinions appear to concur, giving Malacaang the benefit of the doubt that the DAP was intended to ramp up spending in light of piddling economic growth rates in the first year of the Aquino administration.

Was the SC paying attention to the circumstances of Sec. Abad’s disclosure of the existence of the DAP? This came after Sen. Estrada in a privilege speech admitted to receiving tens of millions of PDAF after voting for the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The documents submitted to the SC also indicate how the DAP appears to have been spent the way the congressional pork was being spent — to augment the budgets of certain local government units and for certain public infrastructure projects, such as P2 billion for President Aquino’s home province Tarlac. Malacañang’s retort that less than 9% of the DAP went to congressional pork is irrelevant and meant to divert the public mind from the anomaly.

Certainly, the reason anomalies (if not outright graft and corruption) have not been discovered is that the Commission on Audit (COA) has not conducted a special audit of the DAP, and has refused to do so despite entreaties by several citizens’ groups such as the #abolishporkmovement.

COA’s act of omission (incidentally, COA’s outgoing chair is shortlisted as a nominee for a vacancy in the Supreme Court) cannot go unnoticed because it is highly suspicious.

Has the SC decision exonerated Malacañang for acting “in good faith?” The Court has chosen to apply the doctrine of operative fact to the adoption and implementation of the DAP. According to the SC, “Unless the doctrine is held to apply, the Executive as the disburser and the offices under it and elsewhere as the recipients could be required to undo everything that they had implemented in good faith under the DAP. That scenario would be enormously burdensome for the Government…”

On the other hand, we note the language of the decision: “The doctrine of operative fact can apply only to the PAPs (programs, activities and projects) that can no longer be undone and whose beneficiaries relied in good faith on the validity of the DAP, but cannot apply to the authors, proponents and implementors of the DAP, unless there are concrete findings of good faith in their favour by the proper tribunals determining their criminal, civil, administrative and other liabilities.”

The decision explicitly says that the burden of proving good faith is on the authors, proponents and implementors. This is a marked departure to the general legal principle that good faith is assumed and bad faith must be proven.

There is thus sufficient ground in the decision to make Aquino, Abad and Ochoa liable for culpable violation of the Constitution and for technical malversation and other criminal offenses. At the minimum, these public officials must be called on to resign.

Carol Pagaduan-Araullo is a medical doctor by training, social activist by choice, columnist by accident, happy partner to a liberated spouse and proud mother of two.

Published in Business World July 6, 2014

- See more at:
http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/07/12/good-faith-good-grief/#sthash.40AlZGwu.dpuf


 


March to the Office of the Secretary General of the HOR
 
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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Anti-pork groups file impeachment complaint vs. Aquino
News Release
July 21, 2014

A week before his fifth State of the Nation Address, a broad array of anti-pork barrel advocates has filed an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III. The 28 complainants are seeking Aquino’s removal from office, accusing him of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust arising from his implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

“Complainants accuse President Aquino of culpably violating the Constitution by usurping Congress’ power of the purse and undermining the principles of separation of powers and system of checks and balances. They likewise accuse the President of betraying the public trust by exacerbating the corrupt pork barrel system, committing tyrannical abuse of his powers, violating his oath of office, and perpetrating multiple counts of technical malversation and corruption of public officials.”

“For this, he must be held to account so that lessons must be learned. For this he must be impeached,” read the Prefatory of the impeachment complaint that was endorsed by Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarrate and Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap.

The complainants include persons who earlier questioned the DAP before the Supreme Court, as well as anti-pork advocates that figured in last year’s Million People March and succeeding actions. Religious leaders, members of the academe, corruption whistleblowers and various sectoral leaders also signed the complaint.

They are Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Secretary-General Renato M. Reyes, Jr.; Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) President Ferdinand Gaite,; Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Founding Chairman/President Dante Jimenez, Atty. Jose Malvar Villegas Jr., President of Citizens Crime Watch; all of whom were petitioners versus the DAP before the Supreme Court.

Other complainants include retired Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz; Bishop Emergencio D. Padillo of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP); Bishop Joselito T. Cruz of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI); former Gabriela representative Liza L. Maza; UP Prof. Judy M. Taguiwalo; musician Monet Silvestre; Fr. Benjamin Alforque, MSC of the Church People's Alliance Against Pork Barrel Convenor; Marie Sol S. Villalon of the Promotion for Church People’s Response (PCPR); Sandra Cam, President of the Whistleblowers Association; Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Chairperson Rafael V. Mariano; Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairperson Elmer C. Labog; Migrante International (MIGRANTE) Chairperson Garry Martinez; UP Prof. Danilo A. Arao, Associate Dean, College of Mass Communications and Robert T. Mendoza, RX Pork Convenor;

Known leaders of the Scrap Pork Network such as artist Mae P. Paner or Juana Change, Inday Varona; Noemi Lardizabal-Dado and Deng Silorio also signed the complaint. They were joined by Lolita T. Donato, Alerto Mamimili Convenor; Gloria G. Arellano, Chairperson, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY); Maria Aurora Santiago, Joan Mae Salvador, Secretary-General of GABRIELA, Vencer Mari Crisostomo, Anakbayan chairperson and Concepcion E. Empeno, Chairperson of Desaparecidos and mother of missing UP activist Karen Empeno.

“The Disbursement Acceleration Program turned the General Appropriations Act into one man’s pork barrel. By virtue of his unchecked exercise of discretion, he juggled funds from one program to another, or in the case of DAP, to projects based on his mere whim,” the complaint said.

The complainants believe that DAP further exacerbated the corruption in the pork barrel system by giving additional pork to lawmakers and local officials, in exchange for their support for the Aquino administration.

“Sa pamamagitan ng DAP, pinasahol pa ni Aquino ang korap na sistemang pork barrel sa bansa, salungat sa pangako niya “daang matuwid.”

“The President says DAP is a stimulus program done in good faith. This is belied by the list of DAP projects, most of which have nothing to do with stimulating the economy save for increasing government expenditures,” the Complainants said.

The complainants averred that DAP allowed Aquino to give lawmakers some P17.3 billion in extra pork through lump-sum items known as “other various local projects”. Other DAP expenditures were also lump-sum discretionary spending such as additional pork for local officials in the form of “support for LGUs” and various local infrastructure projects.

They said that to enlarge the presidential pork, Aquino withheld funding for so-called “slow-moving projects” and took control of the savings of agencies that were previously used for personel development. The benefits of ordinary teachers and other government employees suffered because the so-called “savings” were being centralized to fatten the presidential pork.

In a related development, reports reveal that nearly 900 Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) of the more than 1,000 total DAP SAROs were given to lawmakers. This bolsters the complainants allegations that DAP truly intended to function as presidential pork. ###

 

     
     
 At the Office of the Secretary General of Congress
     
           
     
           

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JULY 4, 2014
To impeach or not to impeach?
By BENJIE OLIVEROS
Bulatlat perspective
Bulatlat.com

bu-op-icons-benjieThe Supreme Court decision regarding the unconstitutionality of “specific acts” in the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is a big blow to the Aquino administration. While the 92-page Supreme Court decision appears Solomonic (as most decisions of the High Court are especially if it is critical of government policy), it is, nevertheless, a declaration that the Aquino administration acted clearly well beyond its authority or jurisdiction in determining where and how a substantial amount of government funds would be spent. How substantial? Progressive groups estimate that it is 14 times more than the fund involved in the Napoles scam.

The “specific acts” of the Aquino administration with regards the DAP that the High Court declared as unconstitutional are: 1. the seizure of “unobligated allotments” and “unreleased appropriations” of different government agencies and the unilateral declaration of such as savings; 2. the realignment of funds from the executive to other branches of government (which is expressly prohibited by the Constitution); and 3. the funding of projects, activities and programs not identified by the General Appropriations Act. In sum, what the Aquino administration did was an arrogation of the power of the purse. At the same time, the Supreme Court declared that it is within the power of the President to come up with a policy such as the DAP to steer the economy toward growth and development.

Did the Supreme Court decision state whether the Aquino administration, specifically Pres. Benigno Aquino III and Budget Sec. Florencio Abad, could be held liable for unconstitutional acts? Fr. Joaquin Bernas does not think so. He was quoted saying that the Supreme Court was not clear on whether the decision was retroactive or not. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Akbayan Party-list Rep. Walden Bello even claimed that the decision was not retroactive and thus, President Aquino could not be held liable.

However, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon was spot on when he pointed to the Supreme Court’s application of the “operative fact doctrine” in the decision to show why President Aquino and Sec. Abad are liable. The decision clearly states that: “…the doctrine of operative fact can apply only to the PAPs [program, activity, or project] that can no longer be undone, and whose beneficiaries relied in good faith on the validity of the DAP, but cannot apply to the authors, proponents and implementors of the DAP, unless there are concrete findings of good faith in their favor by the proper tribunals determining their criminal, civil, administrative and other liabilities.” (page 90)

What is the principle of operative fact? Again quoting from the Supreme Court decision: “The doctrine of operative fact recognizes the existence of the law or executive act prior to the determination of its unconstitutionality as an operative fact that produced consequences that cannot always be erased, ignored or disregarded.”

In layman’s terms, it means that one cannot simply undo or ignore what has been done because it might be unfair to the recipients of the programs, activities and projects of the DAP who accepted it in good faith (without knowing that it is unconstitutional) or it might be impractical for the government to undo everything. However, for the authors, proponents and implementors who include President Aquino, Budget Sec. Abad, senators and representatives of the lower house who benefited from it, they must prove before the courts that they acted in good faith, without knowing that the DAP is unconstitutional.

Rep. Ridon also pointed that, at the minimum, President Aquino and Sec. Abad violated Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code. Rep. Ridon added that Kabataan Partylist is preparing an impeachment complaint against President Aquino as well as the charges to be filed against Sec. Abad.

House Speaker Belmonte and other allies of the Aquino administration have declared that an impeachment complaint against the President would not pass the committee level.

There is truth in this as the impeachment process in Congress is essentially a political exercise. While there are appearances of hearings at the Lower House and the Senate, at the end of the day, representatives and senators vote along party lines.

But whether the President’s acts with regards the DAP constitute a “culpable violation” of the Constitution or not and even if the Liberal Party has the numbers to throw out an impeachment complaint, not making any effort to hold the President and Sec. Abad accountable would only perpetuate impunity in the abuse of power and probably, corruption. And besides, in the event that the impeachment complaint hurdles the committee level and is tabled for discussion by the plenary, the public would get the opportunity to hear all aspects of the issue and decide whether President Aquino is guilty or not.

For the President and Sec. Abad, it would do well to face the charges squarely instead of overcoming any complaint or charge with the strength of their numbers. Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was able to throw out several impeachment complaints, at least five, but in the eyes of the Filipino people, she has always been guilty of plunder. No amount of denials and legalese could erase it from the public’s mind.

Also former president Arroyo set the precedent of running after her predecessor former president Joseph Estrada, after, of course, pressure from progressive groups and the Filipino people. It is now her turn to face plunder charges and is under custody, albeit in a hospital. President Aquino may face the same after his term ends, if he does an Arroyo while still in power. (http://bulatlat.com)

(The enumeration of unconstitutional acts mentioned above has been paraphrased by this author. If anyone is interested in reading the 92-page decision so as not to rely on the assertions and counter-assertions of those defending and criticizing the Aquino administration, copies are uploaded at the Supreme Court website. This author downloaded a copy from Interaksyon.com. For non-lawyers, you could just read pages 89 to 91 to save on the effort of reading through the whole document. It was quite a tedious experience for a non-lawyer like this author, although the decision is a good read on petitions for certiorari and prohibition and the history of the government budgeting process.)

- See more at: http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/07/04/to-impeach-or-not-to-impeach/#sthash.pgNsKPoW.dpuf

 

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NOT EXACTLY EVIOL, NOT EXACTLY GENIUS
By LUIS V. TEODORO
Vantage Point | BusinessWorld
July 19, 2014

Former Senator Joker Arroyo, who was his mother’s executive secretary, called him an “evil genius” for his supposedly creative use of Article 39 of the 1987 Administrative Code of the Philippines to justify the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), in the process marking the first time that Benigno Aquino III has ever been so referred to by either epithet.

A genius, after all, Mr. Aquino is not — his record as both member of Congress and as President not being particularly bright, and DAP itself being the brainchild of his Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

If comparisons must be made with the Presidents of his real boss, the United States, he’s no Abraham Lincoln, but more like a Ronald Reagan, who knew at least how to communicate, and how to make people think they’re getting roses while he was handing out thorns.

Like Reagan, Mr. Aquino too knows how to communicate, not only speaking in Filipino and seldom in English, but even more effectively using the language of the streets. Some would call that genius, but it’s mostly gut feel — and having a sister in show business, plus advisers who understand the first rule of public relations: when addressing the masses, talk like them. Thus Mr. Aquino’s masterful “kayo ang boss ko” slogan, and his more recent “excuse me, but DAP is not the same as PDAF,” which is the way some colegialas talk.

If he’s no Lincoln and no genius, neither (it has been widely held) can he be described as evil. The image he projects — it shows even in that peculiar walk of his — is that of a laid-back playboy with an eye for the ladies rather than that of, a la some of his predecessors, a sinister Machiavellian.

Like all things, however, that perception could change, thanks to his defense of the DAP last Monday over national television, during which he sounded more like a spoiled brat rather than the CEO presiding over this country’s supposed focus on government spending for the good of the people.

For starters, he reiterated that because the DAP supposedly benefitted the people, it can’t be bad. That was of course merely a restatement of the principle that the end justifies the means, but which sounds reasonable unless you’re the kind who understands that bad methods poison and shape even the most well-intentioned goals.

After all, there are people and institutions in this country who say they’re for peace, but who torture people to stop them from taking up arms, thus forcing even more people to take up the gun. Human rights issues aside, can torture then be good if it’s being used for (supposedly) noble aims?

There’s also the question of exactly how the DAP benefitted the people. Mr. Aquino implied that without the DAP disaster victims could not have been helped — and yet forgot to mention that despite the DAP thousands of victims of typhoon Yolanda are still living in tattered tents a full eight months after Yolanda smashed into the Visayas.

Mr. Aquino did trot out figures indicating how much was spent for what, but some skeptics can’t be blamed for wondering if the funds were indeed spent for their intended purposes, given the vast corruption that still infests the bureaucracy despite Mr. Aquino’s Daang Matuwid (Straight Path).

Then there’s Article 39, which Mr. Aquino said is the legal basis of the DAP, but which, he said, the Supreme Court did not consider. This leads one to ask if State lawyers even used it to justify the DAP. Mostly they seemed to have used Article 38 of the 1987 Administrative Code for that purpose.

But in her concurring opinion, Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe did refer to Article 39, which Mr. Aquino claims gives the President authority to use the “savings” of any government agency from projects and programs authorized by the General Appropriations Act “to cover a deficit in any other item of the regular appropriations.”

Justice Bernabe declared that the President, despite Article 39, “should not authorize or allow expenditures for an unappropriated purpose” or modify its purpose — which is exactly what he did. But Mr. Aquino argued that Article 39 does not say anything about the authority’s being limited only within one department or branch of government.

This argument and others add up to one thing: Mr. Aquino was saying that his interpretation of the Constitution, which is superior to any other law including the 1987 Administrative Code, is the correct one rather than that of the Supreme Court. And yet the latter exists precisely for the purpose of interpreting the country’s laws, including and most crucially the Constitution, to the defense and implementation of which Mr. Aquino took an oath rather than to its interpretation.

If this is not not only petulant but also short-sighted — an invitation for future Presidents to defy Court decisions, and worse, an unwarranted attack on a co-equal branch of government — it is at least absurd. Mr. Aquino is of course entitled to his opinions, but isn’t it his duty, no matter how learned those views may be, to heed and observe Court decisions, which in the case of the DAP was unanimous? Mr. Aquino also urged citizens to read the “dissenting opinions” of other Supreme Court justices — of which there are none on the case of the DAP, only separate concurring ones.

But the DAP is not the only issue haunting Mr. Aquino in his penultimate year in office. High prices, runaway criminality, continuing corruption in government, mass poverty and hunger despite the hype over economic development and claims of “inclusive growth” are also among the gale winds of the gathering storm that the latest Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia surveys suggest will mark his departure from office.

Assuming that he’s not “evil,” his case nevertheless shatters the myth that personal integrity and good intentions are enough to bring this country to that state of “modernity” Jurassic sociology insists should be the goal of “traditional” society. That idea has been dead for decades, and Mr. Aquino’s example is just one more nail in that coffin.

Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication where he teaches journalism; he is the deputy director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

Published in Business World
July 17 2014

- See more at: http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/07/19/not-exactly-evil-not-exactly-genius/#sthash.PeX6OfTA.dpuf

 

           
DOWNLOAD IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT DOC HERE
 
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ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS - PHILIPPINES
2/F Teachers' Center Building, Mines st. corner Dipolog st., Brgy. VASRA, Quezon City
Tel.Fax: (+63 2) 453 9116, (+63 2) 426 2238
E-mail: act_philippines@yahoo.com, actphilippines@gmail.com

PRESS STATEMENT
July 22, 2014
For Reference: Ms. France Castro, Secretary-General, 09204166441
Mr. Benjie Valbuena, National Chair, 09162294515

Business as usual for BS Aquino and cohorts, DAPat Managot, lahat ng sangkot!

Quezon City, Philippines – Teachers under the banner of Alliance of Concerned Teachers today reiterated their call for the immediate prosecution of all government officials involved in the Pork Barrel Scam and in the formulation and implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program which was recently declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

“Almost a year has passed and we are yet to see the prosecution of all government officials and individuals involved in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scandal. It is very disappointing that under the present administration’s “tuwid na daan,” only those who are in the opposition are being prosecuted while BS Aquino’s friends and party mates continue to enjoy their freedom as if they stole nothing from the people’s coffer.

Only three legislators are in jail right now despite the fact that hundreds of legislators and other government officials were implicated. Nobody from BS Aquino’s camp and saved Abad by rejecting his supposed resignation. In fact, Aquino is still happily and confidently working with them, like Agriculture Secretary Proseso Alcala for instance. Apparently, justice under BS Aquino means going after those who are in opposition of his administration,” said Ms. France Castro, Alliance of Concerned Teachers secretary-general.

“Aside from the pork barrel scam, we are very much appalled with BS Aquino’s continuing defense of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which was declared illegal by the Supreme Court. It is very clear that DAP is illegal and served as BS Aquino’s own pork barrel.

In the public education for instance, funds for teachers’ benefits and allocation for substitute teachers were taken away as part of his DAP. This in turn resulted to the further decrease of the already meager benefits given to us. The P10, 000 yearly Performance Enhancement Incentive (PEI) that we used to receive were systematically reduced by half because of the illegal centralization of savings by mid-term. These “savings” constitute a large portion of funds for DAP.

Also, since the allocation for substitute teachers were also taken away, public schools can no longer hire substitute teachers whenever a teacher gets sick or is in maternity/paternity leave, putting his/her teaching load as an additional work for the teachers without additional pay. It is an established fact already that the public education needs more allocation from the government to address the meager salary and benefits of the teaching and non-teaching personnel and to address the shortages in personnel, classrooms and facilities.” Kulang na nga, kakaltasan mo pa. DAP made our life more miserable,” added Ms. Castro.

Benjie Valbuena, ACT National Chairman, on the other hand slammed BS Aquino’s attitude of saying that his DAP is legal and that the Supreme Court is merely going against him. “In his oath of office, BS Aquino swore to protect and defend the Constitution and his actions right now speak otherwise. While he keeps on telling the common-tao to abide by the law, it is appalling that it is him who systemically violates it. His arrogance is also shown as he gave out threats against the Justices of the Supreme Court not to go against his way unless they wanted to suffer the same fate as former SC Chief Justice Renato Corona had.”

“With these anomalies involving billions of public funds (10 billion in PDAF and 117 billion in DAP) and BS Aquino’s insensitive and indifferent attitude towards our call for salary increase and additional funding in the public education, we are ready to take the streets on the day of BS Aquino’s SONA. We will not simply sit down and listen to his rhetoric and excuses. We will join the broad masses on the streets and will continue to fight for our right for a decent and living wage and to call for the immediate prosecution of the people involved and who benefited in the PDAF scam and illegal DAP. Return the money and re-channel these in funding social services like education and health programs,” added Mr. Valbuena.

“Further, we reiterate our call for Budget Secretary Butch Abad to step down now from his office for being the architect of the illegal DAP and for his alleged involvement in the PDAF scam. This forthcoming SONA, teachers all over the country will wear black ribbons to symbolize our calls for the immediate prosecution of all involved in both PDAF and DAP, for Abad’s resignation and for the immediate passage of a law increasing teaching and non-teaching personnel’s salary. To BS Aquino, your time is up!,” ended Mr. Valbuena.

 

     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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News Release
22 July 2014

For reference: Cristina Guevarra, Hustisya secretary general, 0949-1772928

"It's time you pay for your actions," say rights victims-complainants in impeachment vs BS Aquino

Relatives of victims of human rights violations were among those who filed the impeachment complaint against Pres. Benigno Aquino III yesterday, July 21.

"It's time you pay for your actions," said Concepcion Empeno, mother of missing student Karen Empeño, one of the 28 petitioners in the impeachment complaint against Pres. Noynoy Aquino.

Empeño joined lawyers, church people and representatives of people's organizations at the Office of the Secretary General of the House of Representatives yesterday in holding Pres. Aquino accountable for the misuse of public funds to feed the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The complaint cited culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust as bases for the impeachment.

"I am a school teacher, and as citizen and taxpayer I have every right to demand accountability for what Pres. Aquino did to people's funds through the DAP," said Empeno.

Also signing the impeachment complaint was Maria Aurora Santiago, the fiancee of Wilhelmus Joseph Geertman, a Dutch NGO development worker who was killed two years ago on July 3.

Santiago represents hundreds of victims of extrajudicial killings who were slain and whose rights were violated under the rule of the Pork Barrel King.

“At this point, we want the president to be held accountable for siphoning off public funds like his own, and perpetuating systemic corruption and plunder of people’s funds. But, we will not stop here. He should also account DAP-funded projects that resulted to human rights violations,” said Santiago.

Santiago said she and other families of victims of extrajudicial killings see Pres. Aquino’s arrogant defense of the DAP similar to how he perpetuated human rights violations.

“The four years of Pres. Aquino was marked not only by corruption but also by hundreds of cases of human rights violations,” said Santiago.

Geertman is one of the 202 victims of extrajudicial killings under the Aquino government.

Empeno ended, "Dapat managot ni Aquino. Dapat managot ang mga mandarambong at lumalabag sa karapatang pantao, at ang mga patuloy na nagkakait ng hustisya sa aming mga biktima.” ###

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Press Statement
July 22, 2014
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

DAP money used to sow terror—Karapatan

“The BS Aquino is financing paramilitaries through the Disbursement Accelerated Program (DAP) and it has cost the lives of many people. Definitely, this is not ‘good faith’,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said.

Despite repeated recommendations and calls both in the country and in the international community, the BS Aquino government continues to prop up the existence and operation of paramilitary groups. BS Aquino’s pork, the DAP, funded paramilitaries and private armed groups through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). OPAPP received Ph1.819 billion for the members of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, under the budget item for the GPH-CPLA Closure Agreement.

“These members of the CPLA-turned-paramilitaries were integrated into the 86th Infantry Battalion of the 5th Infantry Division, a notorious unit in Northern Luzon known for a string of human rights violations,” Palabay said.

According to the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, Karapatan’s chapter in the region, the documented rights violations involving this unit are the following:

· In its almost 3-year operations, the 86th IB has been implicated in the extrajudicial killings of Elmer Valdez of Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur and couple Vic and Rosario Valenzuela of Echague, Isabela.

· CPLA integree and officer of the 86th IB Capt. Danilo Lalin remains a suspect in the rape of ‘Isabel’, a 16 year-old high school student from Mankayan, Benguet. Isabel suffered from dissociative amnesia and is now under temporary custody and rehabilitation. An administrative case was filed against Capt. Lalin with the military Ombudsman.

· Trumped-up charges of murder and frustrated murder were also filed against student-leader Mildred Salang-ey by the 86th IB but the complaint did not prosper due to the absence of probable cause. While not incarcerated, Mildred suffered from the psychological impact of an impending arrest and detention. Her studies were also affected.

· In July 2012, a case of torture and various incidents of divestment and destruction of property by the 86th IB was documented in Tinoc and Asipulo, Ifugao.

· In November 2012, Jude Baggo, secretary general of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), was among the 28 human rights defenders and development workers listed in the 86th IB’s document “Municipality of Tinoc Target Persons.” The two-page document, with the logo of 86th IB and 5th ID, tagged those in the list as supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA). Mr. Baggo and Mr. William Bugatti, the Ifugao provincial human rights focal person of the CHRA, were both marked as “Utak ng NPA” (Brains of the NPA). Also listed as NPA supporters are three personnel of the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera, Montanosa Research and Development Center, and the Ifugao Resources and Development Center. A government employee of the Community Environment and Natural Resource Office (CENRO) was also on the list.

· On March 25, 2014, at around 7pm, William Bugatti was killed in Ifugao after he attended a hearing of the case of political prisoners Rene Boy Abiva and Virgilio Corpuz in Lagawe, Ifugao.

According to the AFP website, “the 86th Infantry Battalion of the 5th ID, named Highlander, was organized on February 2010 to fill in the lack of troops in the different infantry divisions of the AFP.” It is composed of integrees from the CPLA and officers and men of the Philippine contingent in the UN Peace Keeping Force in Israel and Syria. Its permanent unit is the 5th ID in Gamu, Isabela. The said unit operated in Northern Luzon. The 86th IB was first deployed in the entire province of Ifugao and parts of Nueva Vizcaya.

In the list of DAP-funded projects, the projects for the CPLA were coursed through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program that supposedly aims to reduce poverty and vulnerability to conflict-ridden areas. The BS Aquino administration boasts of some completed PAMANA projects such as irrigation canals and road constructions in parts of Northern Luzon. “Behind these structures, the funding did not reduce poverty but actually intensified the conflict and sow more terror to the people,” Palabay concluded. ###
 

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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On Aquino’s July 14 speech defending DAP
14-July-2014

By comparing the creation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program to “illegal parking,” Pres. Noynoy Aquino in effect admitted that the program’s creation violates the 1987 Constitution. The creation of the DAP, however, cannot be compared with saving a person’s life.

In his attempt to establish the alleged legality of the DAP, he cited the Administrative Code’s provision that the president can re-align funds to “regular appropriations,” while keeping silent on the fact that the DAP funds were spent on purposes that were not covered by regular appropriations.

Aquino said that “DAP is good” and enumerated programs and projects that were allegedly funded with DAP funds. He is however scandalously silent on the more than P50-million bribes given to each senator after the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

It must be recalled that it was Budget Sec. Butch Abad himself who admitted that the said bribes came from the DAP funds. These bribes clearly show that the DAP by design was prone to abuse and was indeed abused by Aquino who used it as presidential pork, for corruption and patronage.

With his speech, Aquino again confirmed that he is Pork Barrel King, added fuel to the people’s growing anger at him, and hastened his downfall. Aquino’s use of the DAP funds should be investigated, he should be held accountable for creating the DAP, and he should be impeached.

We are calling on the Filipino workers and people to show their outrage over Aquino’s continuing defense of the DAP through various means. Let us join protests and demand that Aquino and his cohorts be held accountable for creating DAP and spending DAP as presidential pork funds.

Reference Person: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson
Contact information: 0908-1636597
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NEWS RELEASE
July 21, 2014

Anakpawis Partylist to endorse impeachment complaint vs. President Aquino

Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap will endorse the impeachment complaint against President Benigno Simeon Aquino III filed by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), COURAGE, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and other cause oriented groups at the House of Representatives today. Other endorsers of the complaint are Bayan Muna representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate.

"The filing of the impeachment complaint against the President is a legal and democratic process that must be given due course by Congress," said Rep. Fernando Hicap. This complaint should be in the first order of the agenda as soon as Congress resumes session next Monday, July 28."

"President Aquino and his cohorts like Budget secretary Butch Abad and others who implemented and benefited from DAP must be held accountable for their offense." "The fact that President Aquino used P5.4 billion in DAP funds as payment for landowners' compensation to his family at Hacienda Luisita is far from an act of good faith." The impeachment complaint is based on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which was declared unlawful by the Supreme Court. The complaint will have three main grounds: 1) Culpable Violation of the Constitution; 2) Betrayal of Public Trust and 3) Graft and Corruption.

"These are valid grounds that should merit the attention of legislators in Congress. At this point, we may not have the numbers but we will work vigorously to convince other legislators to support the complaint," Hicap said. "DAP, at its onset, is an attempt by President Aquino to impose fiscal dictatorship. He wanted to concentrate public funds for the sole discretion and disposal of the Office of the President."

On July 28, Anakpawis will also join the massive people's protest against Aquino's fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Reference: Rep. Fernando Hicap, 0920-2271620

 

     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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NEWS RELEASE
21 July 2014
For Reference: REP. LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
REP. EMMI A. DE JESUS 0917-3221203
LANA LINABAN (Secretary General) 0908-8653582
Jang Monte (Public Information Officer) 0917-4049119

290 IM-PEACH RIBBONS TIED AT CONGRESS GATES AS WOMEN DECLARE SUPPORT FOR IMPEACH COMPLAINT AGAINST AQUINO

Members of Gabriela Women’s Party trooped today to the gates of the House of Representatives declaring their support for the impeachment complaint filed today by representatives from various sectors including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, GABRIELA Alliance, Kilusang Magbubuikid ng Pilipinas, Kilusang Mayo Uno, the Abolish Pork Movement, church leaders and members of the academe.

Women protesters tied 290 peach ribbons, one for every member of the House of Representatives, prodding solons to support the complaint.

“We challenge them to truly be representatives of the people, cross party lines and let the impeachment process take its course,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Secretary General Lana Linaban.

“We remain confident that as the people’s clamor for accountability snowballs, members of congress who were not aware of the source of so-called continuing appropriations for projects under DAP would support the complaint and appreciate this political exercise as a way to correct the wrong that has been done,” said Linaban.

Linaban further said that there is also a need to account for all the projects funded by the DAP disbursements in the past three years.

Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus have both expressed their intent to endorse impeachment complaints against President Benigno Aquino III.

“All those responsible for the illegal disbursements of billions of public funds under the Disbursement Acceleration Program must be held accountable. The call for accountability includes the President who usurped the power of Congress, signed and approved all the disbursements under DAP and used them as presidential pork,” they said. #
 

     
           
     
     
     

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HASTY, TACTLESS MOVE TO DISPUTE DAP RULING
By Satur C. Ocampo
At Ground Level | The Philippine Star
July 19, 2014

It appears that President Aquino acted hastily and tactlessly when he decided to publicly defend the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and dispute the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision declaring it unconstitutional. He did so in a televised speech on Monday, wherein he warned of a clash between the executive and the judiciary that may require the legislature to mediate.

While saying his administration would file a motion for reconsideration of the verdict, P-Noy directly aired to the public his frontal challenge to the SC and his criticisms against the ruling and the members of the court.

On Tuesday P-Noy sustained his criticisms before an international audience, with this blunt but crude statement:

“I find it difficult to accept their decision when I know that we are right, and more importantly, that doing nothing means depriving so many Filipinos of opportunities to grow and prosper.”

Reproaching the SC allegedly for failing to consider his administration’s legal basis in creating the DAP in 2011 – Section 39 of the Administrative Code of 1987 — P-Noy asserted: “We didn’t violate the law when we implemented the DAP.”

As he urged the public to read the SC decision and the concurring opinions, apparently he himself hadn’t read the documents carefully. This might have prompted Associate Justice Marvic Leonen (P-Noy’s appointee) to post in his Twitter account this crisp statement:

“Supreme Court decisions are published so they can be read and understood carefully.”

Save for Leonen’s personal twit, the SC has judiciously desisted from issuing any comment.

Based on the President’s statements quoted in media and the reactions by certain authoritative personalities, let’s focus on the core dispute. Bear in mind that the issue raised before the SC — on which it made a unanimous ruling — was the unconstitutionality of the DAP. All arguments about “good faith” and “economic benefits” are incidental.

“How come they were able to say that our manner of spending was unconstitutional when they did not even tackle our basis?” P-Noy asked, arguing that Section 39 gives the President “outright power to transfer savings for other projects.”

The SC ruling cites certain sections of the Administrative Code, not specifically Section 39. But Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe notes in her concurring opinion that the government used Section 38 and 39 in justifying the DAP.

She warns, however, that when doing so the President “must always observe and comply with existing constitutional and statutory limitations,” otherwise “he would be substituting his will over that of Congress and thereby violate the separation of powers principle…”

On this point two lawyer-priests, both acknowledged as constitutional law experts, have been quoted (from their Facebook accounts) as saying that the SC justices “were aware of Section 39.” They are Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, a member of the 1986-87 Constitutional Commission, and Fr. Ranhillo Aquino, dean of San Beda’s graduate school of law.

Echoing Justice Perlas-Bernabe, Fr. Aquino wrote:

“Any freshman student of law will know that when you interpret a statutory provision (referring to Section 39), you always do so in harmony with the Constitution (Article VI, Section 25)… You don’t ever make a statute qualify the Constitution. Whatever the grant of power the Administrative Code may seem to afford the President, such a statutory provision must always be read in consonance with the Constitution, and never against it.”

Thus, when the code says the President can use savings to fund priority projects, Fr. Aquino added, “that should be read with the proviso: Provided constitutional requirements are fulfilled” because the Constitution is the fundamental law. On the DAP issue, the “savings” that the SC has declared unconstitutional, he pointed out, “were not really savings as understood in constitutional law.”

On his part, Fr. Bernas sought to qualify P-Noy’s contention that Section 39 and the code are “still in effect.” He clarified that the code and other statutes or executive orders issued before the enactment of 1987 Constitution must be compatible with the latter to remain valid.

Bernas categorically stated that Section 39 cannot be invoked to justify “the transfer of savings in one office or department to another office or department,” or to “cross-border transfer of savings” from the executive to the legislative, the judiciary, or to the constitutional commissions (COA and Comelec).

Given these views, it looks like P-Noy’s lawyers now have a depleted argument to warrant reconsideration of the SC unanimous ruling.

Oscar Franklin Tan, a constitutional law scholar, noted in a commentary that P-Noy made the mistake of defending the DAP’s legality when no legal scholar has criticized the SC ruling. “He persisted in disputing legality but made no legal arguments,” Tan remarked wryly.

As for tactlessness, P-Noy ought to finesse his statements pertaining to the SC magistrates. Consider the implications of what he said to and about them:

“There was something that you did in the past, which you tried to do again, and there are those who are saying that [the DAP decision] is worse.”

“I still hold the hope that our colleagues in the Supreme Court never forget that, as they display the legal prowess and acumen that has served them well in their long careers, these abilities must also serve their 98 million countrymen.”
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E-mail: satur.ocampo@gmail.com Published at The Philippine Star July 19, 2014
 

The lawyers of NUPL
(National Union of Peoples' Lawyers)
     
     
     
     
     

Documenting the filing of the impeachment raps

 
     
           
     
     
     

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List of projects confirms DAP’s nature as pork barrel
IBON News | 18 July 2014 | A scrutiny of the list also confirms that the DAP-funded projects did not benefit the economy

The list of projects funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) released by the government confirms its nature as presidential pork barrel, said research group IBON. A scrutiny of the list also confirms that the DAP-funded projects did not benefit the economy.

Malacanang is said to appeal before the High Court today its decision on the unconstitutionality of the DAP. However, in an examination of the list IBON found the following items:

• At least Php17.3 billion was given as Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF-type funding to fund "priority local projects nationwide requested by legislators, local government officials and national agencies". There were three allotment releases for these in the amounts of Php6.5 billion (approved by the office of the president on October 12, 2011), Php8.1 billion (June 27, 2012) and Php2.8 billion (December 21, 2012)

• At least Php30.7 billion worth of large lump-sum items were also approved including: Php10.1 billion for ambiguously titled "various infrastructure projects", "various local projects" and "various priority projects" especially by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); Php7.8 billion to local government units consisting for an "LGU support fund", "performance challenge fund", and "development assistance" to Quezon province; and Php10.9 billion for supposedly peace and development-related projects. There was also Php2.0 billion for national roads in the president's home province of Tarlac and even Php43 million for "capacity-building" of NGOs and people's organizations

• At least Php47.5 billion was also used for items with minimal contribution to the DAP's declared intent of stimulating the local economy. These include at least Php3.7 billion for improving government offices, purchasing information technology equipment, a global tourism media campaign, and others. The government offices improved included of Malacañang (Php20 million), Department of Interior and Local Government (Php100 million), Department of Tourism (Php200 million), National Economic and Development Authority (Php207 million) and Philippine Institute of Development Studies (Php100 million).

Also with minimal stimulus effect were Php7.6 billion worth of projects to the Light Rail Transit Authority, Department of Science and Technology, some hospitals and others which were spent on largely imported equipment and supplies or training of employees for foreign BPO firms. Lastly, there was a huge Php36.1 billion of mainly financial transfers and payments especially for recapitalization of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas but also including various equity infusions or payments of financial obligations of government agencies.

According to IBON, Pres. Benigno Aquino dispensed these billions of pesos to legislators, agencies, local government units and beneficiaries at his discretion, for purposes that he defined unilaterally, and with only a semblance of legality. All these make the controversial DAP consistent with being pork barrel while not directly resulting in broad benefits to Filipinos, the group said.

Pres. Aquino has admitted impatience with the prescribed budget process and short-cutting this to supposedly be able to deliver services more efficiently and immediately to the people. The profile of the projects funded by DAP do not fit with either delivering services to the people or stimulating the economy. The case of the DAP illustrates how the abuse of presidential powers and discretion makes hundreds of billions of pesos in public funds vulnerable to use for patronage and partisan politics and, at worst, corruption. (end)

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Palace exaggerates DAP benefits
IBON NEWS | 15 July 2014 | The Aquino administration is grossly exaggerating the impact of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) on the economy to divert from its real intent, which is to justify and increase the presidential pork barrel.

The Aquino administration is grossly exaggerating the impact of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) on the economy to divert from its real intent, which is to justify and increase the presidential pork barrel.

Research group IBON expressed this in reaction to Pres. Aquino’s speech today that continued to defend its controversial implementation of the DAP. In his speech before businessmen and the World Bank, Aquino said that the economy grew under his watch and that the Supreme Court (SC) decision finding the DAP unconstitutional may reverse this so-called progress.

Aquino’s speech has also revealed that the DAP seems to be designed to subvert existing budget processes, and is now being defended with an end-justifies-the-means argument to gather public support.

According to IBON, the economic growth is showing signs of slowing down in the medium- term, with figures indicating that growth was lower in the first quarter (5.7%) than the 7.7% in the same period in 2013 and also compared to full-year growth rates in 2012 (6.8%) and 2013 (7.2%). It is not true that the SC decision will cause the slowdown of the economy because the Aquino government did not install significant reforms in the real economy to spur any improvement. Worse, the SC decision may even be used as a scapegoat to explain the certain economic slowdown in 2014.

Earlier, IBON has debunked government’s claim that the DAP accounted for 1.3 percentage points of the 4.0% GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2011. According to IBON, this would have been meaningful if true, because then it would have accounted for more than one-fourth of growth. However this 1.3 percentage point contribution to growth 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). 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.

According to IBON, the DAP could possibly even have reduced the contribution of the national budget to economic growth by actually reducing the quantity released to the economy. If it is true that portions of the DAP were lost to corruption, then this means that the money supposed to be spent on the real economy or for essential services were actually even diverted into personal bank accounts. This further weakens the argument that the DAP benefitted the economy and improved people’s welfare. (end)
 

 

     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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DAP did not stimulate economy; public spending slowdown noted since DAP

IBON News | 14 July 2014 | A genuine stimulus should be able to stir the economy and immediately boost consumer and investment spending. However, it is clear that the DAP had no significant impact on the whole economy: DAP was not able to improve even gov

The Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) did not stimulate economy, and overall public spending was actually slower since the implementation of the DAP. Research group IBON issued this statement as it expects Pres. Aquino to defend the DAP in his speech today.

According to the group, a genuine stimulus should be able to stir the economy and immediately boost consumer and investment spending. However, it is clear that the DAP had no significant impact on the whole economy. In fact the DAP was not able to improve even government’s own spending—it was just 7.6% of total government spending in 2011, 4.3% in 2012 and 1.0% in 2013. Measured versus the economy the DAP was just 0.88% of GDP in 2011, 0.56% of GDP in 2012 and 0.13% of GDP in 2013.

The Aquino administration has played up increased spending upon the DAP implementation, and used quarterly data to make its case. The national government budget however is not a quarterly but rather an annual budget and taking the more correct annual frame of reference is revealing. On an annual basis, it turns out that DAP-related spending is not associated with growing overall public spending and, indeed, the opposite is even the case.

The peak DAP year with highest reported DAP spending (Php85.53 billion) was in 2011 but government expenditure here was actually a marked slowdown from the year before. As reported by the Bureau of Treasury (BTr), total public expenditure grew 7.1% in the non-DAP year 2010 and slowed to just 2.3% in 2011; the trend is the same if we take public expenditures less interest rate payments with 7.5% growth in 2010 down to 4.1% in 2011. Correspondingly, the equivalent share of expenditures to GDP fell: of total public expenditures from 16.9% in 2010 down to 16.0% in 2011 and, less interest payments, from 13.6% to 13.2% over the same period.

There is an opposite trend in 2012 or the second year of lower reported DAP spending (Php58.70 billion). The rate of growth of total public expenditure increased to 14.1% and, less interest rate payments, to 14.6% in 2012. It was only in the third year 2013 that reported DAP spending (Php15.13 billion) and growth in public expenditure moved in the same downward direction.

According to IBON, the quality of spending also matters and this should be on legitimate items that will have the most immediate and greatest multiplier effect on the economy. However, projects that benefited from the DAP apparently did not meet this objective, making the so-called stimulus argument illegitimate. (end)

 

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Why the DAP is economically irrational

IBON Features/ July 2014/ Commentary / DAP did not stimulate the economy; isn't large enough to impact on the whole economy, and wasn't spent on projects that immediately boost consumer and investment spending

The DAP did not stimulate the economy: it did not contribute to one-fourth of the 2011 growth as claimed, it is not large enough to have an impact on the whole economy, and it was not spent on projects that immediately boost consumer and investment spending

By Sonny Africa

IBON Features—The Aquino administration's budget department described its Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) "as a stimulus package to fast-track public spending and to push economic growth by investing on high-impact budgetary [programs, activities and projects]".

Serious concerns have already been raised as to its legality (i.e. of being unconstitutional) and propriety (i.e. of being used as presidential pork barrel for patronage purposes). The DAP however is also economically irrational which will be consistent with the notion that the supposed stimulus effect is only a cover for various self-serving political agendas.

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. 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 the controversy first came out Pres. Aquino himself claimed that the DAP stimulated the economy in 2011 and created a momentum that continued until years after. He also specifically said that the DAP contributed 1.3 percentage points to the growth in 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 NSCB. The government has released varying, incomplete and inconsistent figures on DAP but there is nonetheless enough information to make a sound conclusion.

First, regarding the quantity. The magnitude of the supposed stimulus program is the most important factor determining its macroeconomic impact. The DAP however was not additional government spending for any of the years it was implemented and was just, as the name says, merely an acceleration of the disbursement of budget amounts that were already established.

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Early reports from the DBM had total DAP spending of Php159.36 billion broken down into Php85.53 billion (2011), Php58.70 billion (2012) and Php15.13 billion (2013). But these DAP magnitudes are not additional to the spending programs for the respective fiscal years of Php1,580.0 billion (2011), Php1,829.0 billion (2012) and Php2,005.9 billion (2013); these figures are from the most recent Budget of Expenditure and Sources of Financing (BESF) documents. It is then grossly inaccurate for the administration to claim that the DAP was a stimulus package per se because it did not change these original magnitudes at all and if anything only changed how these amounts were spent (i.e. by changing the actual expense items). It did this through the various means declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Indeed even if for the sake of argument we grant the administration's erroneous claim that the DAP was a "stimulus package" it is still clear that the DAP was not really all that 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 Php1,132.67 billion, Php1,376.10 billion and 1,558.24 billion, respectively. This means that the DAP was just 7.6% of total government spending in 2011, 4.3% in 2012 and 1.0% in 2013. Measured versus the economy the DAP was just 0.9% of GDP in 2011, 0.6% of GDP in 2012 and 0.1% of GDP in 2013.

So, in quantitative terms, the DAP was even at its peak in 2011 not very large and could not have had much impact on the economy. This can be compared with equivalent figures of more genuine stimulus programs. The US government's stimulus program – consisting of the US$787 billion US economic recovery package of 2009 and US$700 billion in Troubled Asset Relief (TARP) funds, unemployment insurance, health care and others for instance – was, if spent as programmed, equivalent to about 20-30% of total annual federal outlays and some 4-6% of the US economy. Stimulus packages in other countries in 2009 were also similarly large or larger, such as: Malaysia (7.9% of GDP), China (4.8%), Spain (4.5%), Germany (3.4%), Thailand (2.8%), Korea (2.7%), Indonesia (2.5%) and Japan (2.2%). The claim that the DAP accounted for 1.3 percentage points of the 4.0% 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
growth. However this 1.3 percentage point contribution to growth 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.

The DAP could plausibly even have reduced the contribution of the national budget to economic growth by actually reducing the quantity released to the economy. If for instance it is true that portions of the DAP were lost to corruption then this means that rather than the money being spent in the real economy then they were actually even diverted into hidden wealth bank accounts perhaps even abroad. From an economic perspective such a leakage further diminishes the impact of the supposed stimulus package.

Second, regarding the quality. Economic stimulus is conventionally most visible and effective with public works projects that immediately boost consumer and investment spending and then have long-term benefits in terms of improved infrastructure and other capacity. The ideal is to be able to immediately circulate money in the economy in a way that eventually also yields other productivity gains. This is why education and health care are also seen as legitimate items for stimulus. Overall, it does not appear that the DAP's profile of projects meets these objectives.

There is no available information of the criteria applied by the government in deciding which projects to fund through the DAP nor indeed which projects to in effect discontinue by realigning funds away from them. Nor is there yet available a complete listing of the projects. A cursory glance of what projects have been made public is however enough to cast doubt that a systematic stimulus-defined criteria was applied. There are certainly various infrastructure projects covering roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, rural health units, transport, irrigation, and other presumably useful expenditures.

But among the items of prima facie dubious stimulus impact are: Php30 billion capital infusion to the BSP; Php8.6 billion for ARMM peace and development interventions; Php5.4 billion in landlord compensation; and Php3.4 billion 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 Napocor tax liabilities; Php666 million for the Department of National Defense (DND); and others.

It is important to stress that the point is not that these projects are desirable – they may or may not be – but that if they are part of a supposed stimulus package then they need to be assessed by how far they stimulate the economy in its time of need. A more complete inventory would give a better idea of how much by value went to projects with a presumed stimulus impact and which did not. It will also be important to compare the projects that were discontinued or perhaps not even started with the projects actually implemented to see if there was an improvement in the quality of spending.

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 to the extent that it is spent for foreign goods and services rather than locally (ex. did the DOST's DREAM project purchase foreign equipment?), it is not spent by the recipients (ex. did the BSP and landlords just keep funds received in bank accounts or financial investments?), not spent on labor-intensive projects, and so on. Greater transparency by the Aquino administration on DAP implementation will help clarify the various aspects of the issue further.

From an economic perspective the issue of discretionary use of government funds by Pres. Aquino, or presidential pork barrel, is that such arbitrary decisions for political and patronage purposes will not always be in accordance with the nation's economic and socio-cultural development needs. Worse is that they may even undermine these.

IBON Features

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.
 

           
           
           
           

 

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