Seeing beyond the hypocrisy

By Val G. Abelgas

 (File Photo)

(File Photo)

There is an unwritten code among PR practitioners that when you are in the losing end of a controversy, you explain your side once and try to keep your mouth shut. Like being caught in a quicksand, the more you move or, in this case, the more you talk, the deeper you’ll sink in the hole.

Either the officials of the Malacanang press office are amateurs in damage control or they just can’t get their boss to understand the worsening situation they are in on the matter of the Supreme Court decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) because President Aquino has obviously refused to keep quiet on the issue.

After Malacanang spokesmen appeared to have toned down their rhetoric over the issue, Aquino went on attack mode again and directly accused the tribunal of implementing their own DAP-like measure when the Court requested the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that funds earmarked for the building of the Manila Hall of Justice be transferred from the Department of Justice.

The DBM, according to Philippine Star columnist Alex Magno, offered P100 million from “pooled savings” but the tribunal rejected the offer through a court resolution.

Bayan Muna party list Rep. Neri Colmenares asked why the budget for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice, which would house city courts, was placed with the DOJ in the first place when the construction of courts in the country rightly belongs to the Supreme Court.

“This means the Supreme Court will have to beg from the President for the construction of its courts like an RTC judge pleading for funds from the fiscal or prosecutor. This is purposely done by the executive so it can exercise control over the judiciary thereby impairing the independence of the court,” he said.

In the same speech during rites for the 150th birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini, Aquino again accused the justices of changing the rules on “good faith” when they ruled that some acts committed under the Disbursement Acceleration Program were unconstitutional.

Aquino is insisting that he acted in good faith because, according to him, Section 39 of the Administrative Code of 1987 allowed cross-border transfer of funds, and even accused the justices of failing to consider the law in their decision. He asked the people to read the “dissenting opinions.”

That alone showed his ignorance of the law because it was a unanimous decision (13-0) and there was no dissenting opinion. Two justices wrote separate concurring opinions that mentioned the Administrative Code of 1987, but did not say the law justified the actions made under the DAP.

Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe said in her concurring opinion that the government used Section 38 and 39 in justifying the DAP. Bernabe, however, warned that 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…”

Legal experts said Aquino could not use it to justify his actions because the law, which was decreed by the revolutionary government of Aquino’s mother, President Cory Aquino, was superseded by the 1987 Constitution, which expressly disallowed such actions. Even Cory did not avail of the provisions of the Administrative Code that she decreed. Neither did former President Joseph Estrada.

Constitutional law experts Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a leading member of the 1987 Constitutional Commission and dean of the Ateneo College of Law, and Fr. Ranhillo Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, said that contrary to the President’s claim, the SC justices were aware of the Administrative Code of 1987.

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.”

Fr. Bernas, on the other hand, disputed the President’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.

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno commented that the constitutional violations under the DAP was more serious than those of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which the court had earlier also declared unconstitutional.

In separate speeches, Aquino insisted that the DAP was implemented to stimulate the economy and the funds were channeled to urgent projects that would produce jobs and improve the economy. But it turns out most of the fund releases were political in nature rather than economic because many of the projects, which were far from urgent, were given to favored members of Congress and other politicians obviously for political leverage.

For example, Senators Ralph Recto and Nancy Binay – who, by the way, was impressive in the Senate hearing on the DAP – questioned why the Aquino government impounded and diverted some P14.5 billion meant to rehabilitate 22 key airports and seaports to projects “with little or no economic impact.”

“I could not understand why the repair and rehabilitation of the airports, seaports and lighthouses would be abandoned when these could have accelerated and spurred economic growth,” Recto said.

Binay, on the other hand, asked: “On these shelved projects, did you even conduct research [about whether]… these projects have a multiplier effect compared to those you have approved under DAP?” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Transportation Secretary Emilio Abaya couldn’t answer the question. Abad asked Abaya to explain, while Abaya repeatedly said he was still a member of Congress at that time.

Clearly, the Aquino administration has no clear answers to the points raised against the DAP, but continues to lie through its teeth in claiming “good faith.”

The people are beginning to see beyond the hypocrisy of this administration. Aquino’s approval ratings — even on his two biggest promises of curbing corruption and poverty — have dropped to their lowest levels. He set the bar high with his promises of reforms and now he is doing exactly what his predecessors practised – patronage politics.

Worse, his campaign manager in the presidential elections, Sen. Serge Osmena, and another ally, Sen. Antonio Trillanes declared him a failure in his handling of the energy crisis, poverty, and the DAP.

Osmena cited Aquino’s management failure while Trillanes said Filipinos have to bear and live with the shortcomings of a “sloppy” president because “we have chosen one who is sloppy.”

Maybe Aquino can still salvage his legacy by pushing for the passage of the proposed Freedom of Information Act. But he still refuses to certify it as urgent and could only promise to pass it before the end of his term in 2016. Maybe the FOI law would see the light of day a few days before the May 2016 presidential elections, when it could no longer be used to probe Aquino’s actions.

His promise on the FOI is as empty as the others.



5 Responses. Have your say.

  1. philip says:

    PeNoy na nga lang, buguk pa. Kasalanan ito ng lahat na bumoto sa bakla na puro ngalngal lang. Mongoloid pa ang itsura.

    • manok says:

      grabe ka naman..sobra naman panglalait mo dahil sa gailit mo..ang problema ay TOTOO ang sinasabi mo..yan ang problema sa iyo..nagsasabi nang katotohanan..anger management is for you before ikaw yong madisgrasya sa High would be a great loss to the readers..:)

  2. Gabriel says:

    The Filipino people suffers either from a Bright witty GMA and Fidel Ramos Presidents and now a now good doer but a sloppy low grade ATENEO graduate suffers for appointing no less his friends and playmates who never did their job well. What a pity. Sa Diyos and Awa sa Tao ang Gawa… Pinoy must be impeached for the Supreme court had ruled that all he did is unconstitutional and must suffer for it. Anyone can understand that including his Budget Secretary who is in the forefront of the violation. They cannot escape the rule of law unless the people will also forget it.. How about our Lawyers ?

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      You folks sounds like PNoy is the only moron serving the Filipino people. Our country wouldn’t be in these mess if it wasn’t for our brain dead kababayans being allowed to vote, but since our constitution says they can, they will continue to elect worthless individuals to f*ck our country up. There’s a former president awaiting trial for plunder, three Senators are also being charge with plunder, a whole bunch of former and currently serving politicians are also going to be charged with graft and corruption and you people think that PNoy is the only one that deserves a hangman’s noose around his neck? The Filipino people created all these monsters, now they have to figure out a way to destroy them, not coddle them.

  3. pat talens says:

    One other prominent Presidential legacy of Aquino is the government’s failing and most decadent and abysmal rehabilitation of Yolanda stricken regions of the country. Notwithstanding the massive donations in monetary terms by countless individuals, celebrities, organizations,and foreign governments (and 9 months past the catastrophic event), areas remain undeveloped and in state of disrepair especially schools and roads, victims still live in subhuman environments and subsist like livestocks. It’s nauseating.

    The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee must hold hearings to uncover the obvious incompetence and mismanagement and to find out where and how so much donated money (for the people) so mismanaged, lost and corrupted.

    Also portion of Aquino’s so-called good and well-intentioned DAP could have been well spent.

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