Will P-Noy accept the buck?

By Marichu A. Villanueva
The Philippine Star 

Buck-stops-here“The buck stops here” is a phrase that was popularized by the late US President Harry S. Truman. He put up this sign on top of his desk at the White House Oval Office during his term and has become a national principle handed down to succeeding US Presidents.

This principle will be tested with the unexpected disclosure made at the Senate committee on finance public hearing called yesterday by Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero. This was in the course of the Senate hearing into the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) being implemented by the administration of President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III.

The disclosure came from Rowena Candice Ruiz, director of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) who was among the agency officials invited to shed light on pending resolutions calling for legislative inquiries and referred to the Senate finance committee. One of which is a Senate Resolution filed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada who unwittingly uncovered the once unknown existence of the so-called DAP.

In a privilege speech in September last year, Estrada revealed certain senators, including himself who voted for the conviction of erstwhile Supreme Court (SC) chief justice Renato Corona during the Senate impeachment trial were each rewarded with P50-million “incentives” by the Aquino administration. Estrada questioned the legality of such fund releases in retaliation after he and several other senators were linked to alleged anomalous transactions of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Estrada’s exposé led to a public admission by DBM Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad that indeed there were such fund releases. But Abad cited these were official and regular releases from the annual budget. He explained these come from government savings which were eventually lumped by the DBM into what was dubbed as DAP.

Abad, who was subsequently also implicated by Napoles in the pork barrel controversy, admitted having allocated over P1 billion for the 20 senators who voted to convict Corona in 2012. Little did Abad realize his DAP admission opened up a can of worms that now dragged no less than President Aquino himself.

Under oath in yesterday’s Senate public hearing, Ruiz testified all approvals for DAP pass through the Office of the President before they at the DBM officially release the funds. Without the President’s imprimatur, Ruiz stressed no funds will be ordered released by the DBM.

Asked whether DAP goes all the way to the President, Ruiz replied: “Yes sir. DAP is a program of the Aquino administration to disburse for slowly moving projects.” Although the “lists” of what are these slow moving projects are submitted to them, the DBM cannot make any decision which project or government agency can tap funds out of the DAP, she pointed out. “Lahat po ng list submitted to sa amin. Yun po hinihingan namin approval ni President para magamit sa DAP.” (All of the lists are submitted to us but we ask them to seek approval of the President to use DAP).

In fact, Ruiz told the Senate hearing yesterday the DBM had earlier submitted to the SC the documents that bear the President’s signature that approved the DAP releases made so far by the DBM. According to her, the DBM enumerated all the DAP releases coming from savings and from the un-programmed fund.

On this note, Escudero requested that his Senate committee be given the same copies of these documents. Incidentally, Escudero was also subsequently dragged into the alleged PDAF scam of Napoles. Although he had casual meeting with Napoles, Escudero however vehemently denied having channeled his PDAF allocations to her alleged “bogus” non-government organizations.

Much earlier, the 15-man High Court already decided with finality on the unconstitutionality of the PDAF. This is why the DAP issue is awaited with bated breath.

The constitutionality of the DAP is the subject of nine pending petitions that questioned it before the Supreme Court (SC) in October last year at the height of PDAF scam. Petitioners have scored the Aquino administration for inventing the so-called DAP which they deplored was just another lump sum appropriation unheard off until Abad revealed it.

The High Court conducted oral arguments on these DAP petitions, the last one held in January this year. It has long been submitted for resolution but no ruling yet up to now.

Being the “alter ego” of the President, the DBM Secretary and the rest of P-Noy’s Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority.

Despite being directly pointed to as having taught Napoles the ways to go around the PDAF releases, the Palace reiterated for the nth time P-Noy continues his trust and confidence in his DBM chief.

As the highest elected official of the land, President Aquino has no choice but to assume and accept the responsibilities of his executive action and decision. That’s why the buck stops at his desk at the Office of the President. Will he accept or pass the buck again?


3 Responses. Have your say.

  1. In a democracy, no man is supposed to be above the law. So, whoever commits any wrong doing should be punished accordingly.
    In the case of the president, he can only be removed from office through impeachment. After which cases could be filed in proper court.
    In short, let the proper wheel of justice move. Whoever, is guilty should be put to jail. Let the innocent go free.
    But in other countries like Japan, Singapore, etc where delicadeza is strong, mere mention of their names in anomalous transactions, they either commit HARAKIRI or at least resign.
    Sana. dito din sa atin mga elected and appointed officials in government….like that of late Angelo Reyes!

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      Angelo Reyes was caught between a rock and a hard place, he knew that his situation had finally reach dead end, so he took the appropriate action, Harakiri without a samurai sword. However, these corrupt politician will do no such thing, they will just take their stolen richest and head for the hills, in this case probably the US or someplace where the Philippine laws couldn’t touch them.

  2. Roman R. Guerrero says:

    If PNoy gets impeach, where goes our EDSA86-restored Democracy? Will it not go down along with him – for a regime change which appears the way out for many corrupt political leaders now accused of the pdaf scam? We think, we and PNoy should support Mayor Duterte’s call for a 2nd Cory Revolutionary government purposely to start all over the 6th Philippine Republic based upon the 1987 Cory Constitution corrected of its 5 factually erroneous provisions by undertaking a peoples initiative called BRIGADA OP 2016= Office of the President 2016.

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