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October 4, 2013

Battle of the Plunderers

It’s no longer what we overheard. This time we’re rolling over by what has come from the horses’ mouth.

The irony of ironies is that President Benigno Aquino III, who won on the slogan “Kung walang korap, walang mahirap” (If there is no corruption, there would be no poor), has become the third president of the Philippines to be charged with plunder … and he hasn’t even finished his term!

The irony of the irony of ironies is that we have Jinggoy, who has earned the nickname “Poster Boy of Corruption” after being linked to Pork Barrel Queen Janet Lim-Napoles, to thank for this.

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In the privilege speech he delivered in the Senate last week, Jinggoy proved that the best defense is a good offense. He revealed – or alleged – that senators were bribed to vote for the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona by then Senate Finance Committee head and Liberal Party President Franklin Drilon.

The day after the privilege speech, it seemed like the speech was a dud. Jinggoy, after all, failed to defend himself. He was no longer all about pork. He had become a rat, too.

And then, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Butch Abad got the ball rolling.

1. Abad Opened His Mouth: It Wasn’t Pork!

As it turns out, it was the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). According to Sec. Abad, it was created “primarily to ramp up government spending after sluggish disbursements caused the country’s GDP growth to slow down to just 3.6 percent in 2011.” This practice led to an amount of P84 billion allotted in 2011, P54.8 billion in 2012, and P11 billion this year.

Abad said that all these was legal. Except that it turns out that not only is DAP “illegal”, it also is “unconstitutional” – at least according to both former Sen. Joker Arroyo and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

2. Abad, Again: It Wasn’t a Bribe

To prove that it wasn’t a bribe, Sec. Abad said Sen. Joker Arroyo, who also voted to exculpate Corona, was allotted P47 million, which was released in February 2013.

But Joker clarified:

Secretary Abad maliciously bundled the budgetary amendments I introduced for medical and educational provisions in the 2013 General Appropriations Act together with the questioned 2012 releases.

[He] took pains to massage the information regarding these amendments/appropriations in the budget as if they were part and parcel of the lump-sum appropriation for the (DAP), which he mentioned, if only to deodorize the stink of the accusation against them that they ‘rewarded’ the senators who voted to convict in the Corona impeachment trial.

[He] said the questionable funds given to the senators came from a newly minted program designed by the DBM, called the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), yet again, another one of those lump-sum appropriations yet unheard of, until he pulled it out from his hat.

3. When People Started Questioning DAP, Lacierda Attempted to Come to the Rescue: DAP is Not Pork!

But this led analysts to clarify: DAP is PNOY’s Pork.

According to former DBM Secretary Ben Diokno,

[President Aquino] created his own pork barrel by forming the Development Acceleration Program (DAP) fund and realigning savings to non-existent budget items in the General Appropriations Act without the approval of Congress.

So he created, a budget within a budget!

4. When the  DAP Issue Starts Earning the Ire of Pinoys, PNoy Insists: DAP is Legal!

Again, enter those who say otherwise: Joker, Miriam both say it’s illegal and unconstitutional. And Ben Diokno and Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a Constitutional expert, both agree:

You can’t use savings to augment a non-existing item in the budget!

5.  When PNoy & Abad are Charged with Plunder, PNoy Resorts to His Favorite Excuse: It’s GMA’s Fault!

So after all these exchanges, we all go back to PNoy’s favorite target: GMA. Once again, it’s GMA’s fault, as it was in the beginning and now, apparently, so it shall be until the end.

The buck stops with PNoy indeed because GMA is charged with plunder…AGAIN!

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