Noy compared to Marcos in pooling DAP funds

By Angie M. Rosales
The Daily Tribune 

Noynoy.73Malacañang can’t escape culpability on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the pool of discretionary funds of President Aquino, a former senator and one-time executive secretary of the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, the incumbent’s mother, pointed out yesterday.

Former Sen. Joker Arroyo is putting to task Malacanang into justifying to the public the actual disbursements from the DAP, to whom and how these were culled and released and who should be made liable, the same way that purported misuse in the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) is now being made fully accounted by those supposed to be liable for the mess.

“Malacañang cannot now (carry) the banner of straight path unless they are able to account first for the P150 billion or P147 billion (DAP funds), whatever (actual figure) it is,” he said.

Arroyo, in a radio interview, could not help but take note of the apparent parallelism of President Aquino to former strongman, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, in running the affairs of the government, with the present situation proving to show that the Chief Executive practically has entire control, especially on the matter of fund releases.

Arroyo twitted the “defense” now being used by Malacañang by citing Administrative Code of 1987 as legal basis for the creation of DAP, pooling in government savings and unobligated or unused funds.

The former senator said that the edict was signed during the incumbency of President Aquino’s late mother where he was the executive secretary, but which was “never used” by the former President.

“I even signed that code. But Cory (Aquino) never used that. Why? Because it came from Marcos, a decree from Marcos. During the time of Marcos, there was martial law and he can do anything, whatever, so he spent money at will. One of the last decrees or executive order was the administrative code. (Former President) Cory signed it in 1987 but up to 1992 (when she stepped down) she never used it,” he said.

“The question now is that the code was not used by Cory but is now being used as P-Noy’s defense. The law was used by Marcos. So P-Noy (Pres. Aquino) and Marcos, would it be right to say that they thought alike? Cory did not use it. It was Cory who ultimately signed it but not one centavo was used. It was not used during her time, or even during the time of FVR (President Fidel V. Ramos), not during Erap (President Joseph Estrada) and Erap was charged with plunder but he did not use the measure since he was apprehensive. (Former Pres.) Gloria (Arroyo) did not use it. Noynoy did not follow his mother, he followed Marcos,” he said.

“(Evil genius), I said that in jest. But now, the evil genius has come to life. You cannot release any money without any authorization,” he said.

The former senator once coined as “evil genius” the provision in the 2012 budget which would have allowed the Office of the President to take over the savings of the judicial, legislative and constitutional bodies then to be called Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF).

It was seen to be tantamount into impounding the funds by the Executive by those from other branches, such as the judiciary and constitutional bodies have fiscal autonomy under the Constitution and as such the President would have discretion in releasing up to P101 billion.

Arroyo, in criticizing then Malacanang, pointed out that the practice was last observed during the martial law years and which the 1987 Constitution had already scrapped.

“So this is the situation, so if you think about how PNoy now controls the government. That is too much. I was anticipating that the SC will not involve PNoy in the DAP. There were those who said that the SC intentionally did not point out who should be answerable. I can’t give any answer to that but it was good that the SC issued the ruling that it was unconstitutional. If the DAP is unconstitutional, there can be no instance where you just forget P147 billion or P150 billion (DAP funds released). Who will answer for that? Who will be accountable?

“The SC could have employed judicial statesmanship. The ruling can’t put the blame on the President, that is not their function, that is the function of Congress via impeachment. That is what you call the balance of power – checks and balances,” he said.

That’s probably the reason why the matter of impeaching Aquino came about, Arroyo said.

While he’s against the idea, citing the fact that the country need not undergo another political turmoil following the impeachment of a chief justice in 2012, Arroyo emphasized the implausibility since Aquino practically controls both Houses.
“The situation has become volatile which makes me afraid since the government has lost any direction,” he said.

It’s a mystery, Arroyo said, as to how much DAP funds were actually collated by the Executive and released since nobody knows about it except Malacanang and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“There are those saying it reached P250 billion or P200 billion or whether the infirmation that it was P147 billion, we do not know. Nobody knows kung how much ang disbursement ng DAP. DBM was silent after the SC decision. I was waiting for the DOJ (Department of Justice) to defend Malacanang. Even CoA (Commission on Audit) is also quiet. Everybody on the side of the government is quiet,” he said.

Arroyo said it’s worthy to those that those criticizing the misuse of PDAF were very vocal in making known their opinions yet could not be heard now on the issue on DAP.

If the President will discuss in his state of the nation address (SONA), the issue on PDAF, “he must also talk about what he will do and whom he will charge because of DAP because if he will not do that, that would be very unfair of him,” Arroyo said.

“If it is unconstitutional therefore it is wrong. What’s the use of saying it as unconstitutional. If it’s unconstitutional that means it’s invalid,” he said.

“The DAP actually destroyed Aquino’s claim of walking the straight path. Because of this. Because if you can’t explain where P147 billion or P150 billion how can you claim now, honesty and integrity? The question here now is where is the P147 billion or P250 billion?,” he said.

Arroyo said that if news reports where pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhuy Luy’s latest statements that Janet Lim Napoles also got hold of DAP funds, then there could be some truth to the allegation linking Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to her alleged illegal transactions.

“If that is the case, coming from Luy, wasn’t there a report that Napoles said Butch Abad was her mentor?” he asked.
While he tends to be on the side of Abad, saying that it’s unfair for the DBM chief to be accused of such, the Executive, however, cannot just remain silent on the issue because of the presumption of innocence.

The former senator likewise could not help but take notice of the apparent vindictiveness of the administration against its perceived political rivals.

Under the Aquino administration, there is no such presumption of innocence, Arroyo said.

“The question is, is that fair to Abad, all because Luy said so?” he asked.

Vice President Jejomar Binay and the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC) did not receive any funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), HGC president Manuel Sanchez, meanwhile, said.

“We have not received nor asked for P2.243 billion from DAP,” Sanchez said.

Recent reports stated that Binay, chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), received DAP funds through HGC and the National Housing Authority (NHA).

“The reports are apparently intended to malign the Vice President’s name as part of the demolition job against him,” Sanchez said.

He clarified that the amount, which was allegedly reflected in the Department of Budget and Management’s records, corresponds to the appraised value of the ‘air rights’ above the Philippine National Railway (PNR) track from Buendia in Makati to the junction of Samson Road in Caloocan.

“What we are asking for is proper compensation for our transfer of the PNR air rights to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). We bought it; it is only right that we get paid in return once we transfer it,” Sanchez said.

“We were surprised when we read the reckless reports claiming we got more than P2 billion when in fact, we have received no payment so far,” he added.

As head of the housing sector, Binay serves as ex-officio chairman of the NHA Board and is not involved in the agency’s operations.

As for HGC, the Vice President acts as ex-officio vice-chair of the Board while the Secretary of the Department of Finance functions as the ex-officio chairman.

The ‘air rights,’ along with other assets, was conveyed to HGC in March 2003 after the agency paid the P1.38 billion obligation to investors of the failed Sariling Pabahay sa Riles (SAPARI) project. Aside from the P1.38 billion guaranty call payment, HGC also shouldered the P1.083 billion project expenses.

The SAPARI was a joint-venture project among PNR, NHA, New San Jose Builders, Inc., and HUDCC in 1996. Funding for the project was raised through the issuance of bonds called Asset Participation Certificates (APC), backed up by a pool of assets as security. HGC was mandated to guarantee the payment of the certificates.

There were insufficient funds to redeem the APCs when they matured. When the guaranty call was made in November 2000, HGC, as guarantor, paid all obligations to the investors who bought the APCs. The asset pool, which included the ‘air rights,’ was conveyed to HGC in payment of the guaranty call.

HGC published the asset for sale in early 2012 to recover its exposure in the SAPARI project. The ‘air rights’ is a crucial component in the development of the ongoing SLEX-NLEX road connector project. Considering the value of the ‘air rights’ to the project, it was deemed in the best interest of the government that the asset remain state-owned.

HGC withdrew the ‘air rights,’ appraised at P2.2 billion, from public auction for transfer instead to the DPWH to be used in the road connector project.

http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/noy-compared-to-marcos-in-pooling-dap-funds


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