Is DAP worth fighting for?

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Butch Abad confers with P-Noy

Butch Abad confers with P-Noy

In an attempt to do a great service to the people – or his “boss” as he calls them — President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III used an ingenious system of funneling “savings” generated by underspent government programs to a huge piggy bank. He can then take money from it to spend on projects that he believes would benefit his “boss” or for any other endeavor he wishes to pursue.

And that’s exactly what P-Noy must have had in mind when he commissioned his friend and political ally Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to design and devise a system that would accelerate the disbursement of the money taken from these “savings.”

Simple as it may seem, the “system” we’re talking about here is conveniently called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). But to circumvent the Legislature’s “power of the purse” constitutional mandate, it requires the expertise of a person who works “outside the box” and who would do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, including unconventional – and unconstitutional — means to make it happen. Sounds Machiavellian?

Implemented in 2011 into P-Noy’s second year in office, DAP churned these “savings” into funds that he can use without congressional authorization. These funds are then earmarked for whatever projects P-Noy had selected. Needless to say, the beneficiaries couldn’t care less where the funds originated. Indeed, there is a built-in “omerta” mechanism that guarantees the silence of the beneficiaries. After all, who would dare question the provenance of these funds?

P-Noy must have been enjoying his “lucky streak.” But like the 14th century poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s famous line says, “All good things must come to and end,” P-Noy’s three-year run with DAP came to an end amidst the biggest corruption scandal the country ever had – the P10-billion “pork barrel scam.”

Bombshell

Jinggoy drops a bombshell

Jinggoy drops a bombshell

On September 25, 2013, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada broke his “omerta.” He delivered a privilege speech on the Senate floor exposing a series of “payoffs” to senators to influence how they voted on bills or issues pending before the Senate.

He dropped a bombshell saying that P50 million in discretionary funds was given to each of the 20 senators who voted to convict former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. Although Jinggoy made it crystal clear that the money was not a bribe — which made sense because the money was given after the vote was taken — who is there to say that it was not a reward for their vote? Or could it be that it may have been a pre-arranged amount to be released only if they voted to convict Corona? If that was the case, then it was a bribe in every meaning of the word.

The day following Jinggoy’s exposé, Secretary Abad admitted that the funds came from the hitherto unknown Disbursement Acceleration Program, which was later revealed to be his brainchild. That’s when all hell broke loose!

Setback

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled – by 13-0 vote — that three key parts of DAP were unconstitutional. It was a major setback for P-Noy, who depended on the DAP to sustain his programs and projects without congressional interference.

He must have felt like a junkie whose source of dope had been cut off. Immediately, he went on the offensive. In a press conference following the Supreme Court ruling, P-Noy attacked the high court and its adverse ruling.

During his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA), P-Noy stubbornly defended his DAP. He went as far as to call on Congress to pass a “Joint Resolution” that would define government “spending terms” and to defy the Supreme Court’s ruling.

And in a display of emotion, P-Noy invoked the name of his father, Ninoy Aquino, and quoted his famous line: “The Filipino is worth dying for.” Then he added, “The Filipino is worth living for” and “The Filipino is worth fighting for.” But this cliché of dying, living or fighting for the Filipino is overused. It’s now passé.

Stubbornness

SONA 2014

SONA 2014

P-Noy’s tirade against the Supreme Court is like a little boy throwing a tantrum, making unreasonable and foolish demands. He knows better that the Supreme Court’s ruling, once it became executory, is final and there is no appeal. Perhaps his legal staff should give him advice on the legality – and futility – of what he’s doing.

What he should have done was do a mea culpa routine just like when then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appeared on TV and said she was sorry for the “Hello Garci” scandal. She did it without admitting guilt. It was brilliant! Indeed, there is nothing more profound than admitting a mistake. It’s the best defense.

But that is not P-Noy’s character. He is the kind of person who would stubbornly stick to what he has in mind. And it is a major weakness, a quality that is absent in great leaders of our times.

Time and again, P-Noy has manifested his bull-headedness in many incidents during his presidency, including his refusal to apologize for the killing of eight tourists from Hong Kong when the tourist bus was hijacked at the Rizal Park in Manila in 2010, just seven weeks after he was sworn in as the country’s president.

Plummeting satisfaction ratings

Plummeting satisfaction ratings

But his stubbornness in rejecting the Supreme Court decision and his continued defense of DAP could be the turning point in his presidency. Does he think that he would prevail in a constitutional showdown against the Supreme Court?

Our government was designed with three independent co-equals – Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary – that have distinct functions. To date, these co-equals have worked harmoniously together with each other. With P-Noy challenging the Judiciary, he is putting the Executive in a tenuous position. Indeed, he is in a no-win situation, which begs the question: Is DAP worth fighting for?

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)


9 Responses. Have your say.

  1. sluggo rigor says:

    primo,
    does the means justify the end?
    para ring marcosian ang logic of
    doing it his way and nobody else’s.

  2. Pep says:

    Meanwhile, under P-Noy the FOI slumbers.

  3. mrsbethgonzales says:

    And the President dragged the entire Congress to his confronation with the nation’s premier and last legal arbiter of the land. Two institutions about to crash the govt to a thankless, destructive headlong. Not that the Congress repulse the rape. It is willing and panting for the plunder.

  4. Mac Flores, Jr. says:

    This 1.3 Billion Peso DAP given to the chosen Senators after Corona was impeached and ruled as unconstitutional will not lay to rest unless fully accounted for.

    Like me, an ordinary person will access the internet and search for DAP accounting for each recipient Senator.

    You’ll find that not a single recipient Senator made a full accounting of his/her DAP whether in a narrative form or report form signed by the senator and/or certified by state auditor or otherwise.

    From this point, the people is at a lost whether COA will conduct the DAP audit or not, or will issue sample report formats for the Senators to follow.

    If COA need outside support to complement its staff, it may consider tapping the services of outside auditors from the private sector, i.e. PICPA or other reputable auditing firms.

    The people need results (how DAP was received and how it was spent) not wasteful debates and hearings that end in: “Oh, DAP is unconstitutional, let’s do something to make it constitutional. The prior DAP is part of history, let’s move on.”

    Please don’t short-changed Juan de la Cruz.

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      Mac, our system of government needs some serious overhauling. Money gets thrown around like it grows on trees, mostly in some politicians bank account. Agencies responsible for keeping track of these funds are probably in cahoots with these greedy politicians or worse yet, they also have their own little racket on how to pocket some of these funds. Our country can’t afford to purchase much needed military hardware yet there seemed to be an awful lot of money for these greedy politicians to steal. Let’s all hope that Sandiganbayan will have enough to put all of them away for good and take back what they’ve stolen from the people.

  5. DANNY PONAY says:

    DAP worth fighting for? PNOY says its for emergency. But there is no DAP for Yolanda victims, there is no DAP for the airports, there is no DAP for Bohol and Cebu earthquakes, there is no DAP for teachers salary and education. There were no DAP for housing of the poor. There were no DAP for the sudden increase in prices of rice, garlic, etc. Most of these could have spurs economic boom. I am wondering the analogy of parking in an illegal place because of emergency. But there were no emergency. Instead, where the emergency is there is no DAP.

  6. DANNY PONAY says:

    I hope our beloved President whom I voted will realized that fighting with the Supreme Court could cause trouble for us Filipinos. Even Chief Justice Sereno whom he appointed and was with him all the way could not even side in his favor this time.

  7. Ed Gamolo says:

    It’s not only worth fighting for. Many would die for it.

    • perry says:

      Hi Ed,

      Yes, P-Noy would die politically for DAP. DAP is the seed for corruption. He simply doesn’t get it.

      Perry

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