Fast Food Presidency

Posted: November 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

Aquino in New York stops for a hot dog

Noynoy Aquino has been known to drop by fast food chains during his foreign trips. He went to a McDonalds in San Francisco before proceeding to a gun shop. Recently, Aquino ate at Jollibee in Singapore. Like many of Aquino’s engagements, it is a calculated media event that aims to show the President’s connection with the ordinary folk.

Yes, like you, your president also eats burgers and fries. Pinoy comfort food, says one broadsheet. He feels what you feel.

The idea is not original though. US President Barack Obama and Vice-president Joe Biden have been known to stop over burger joints to grab a bite. The same would be covered as a media event.

Aquino’s hot dog lunch in New York was supposed to be in contrast to Gloria Arroyo’s scandalous, nearly $20,000 dinner in Le Cirque which was still fresh in the minds of many Filipinos.

Obama_chun(3)(2).jpg

Obama and Biden grab a burger in Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Va.

But the attempt to appear ordinary is exposed as a sham when one looks back a few days before Jollibee in Singapore.

On November 8, first anniversary of the strongest recorded typhoon to make landfall, Aquino snubbed Yolanda survivors from Tacloban, the city that bore the brunt of Yolanda/Haiyan’s destructive force. His spokesman said that he had little time and needed to prepare for the APEC and ASEAN meettings. 

A week later, Novmeber 16, Aquino also did not bother to say anything about the victims of the Hacienda Luisita massacre, whose cause he vowed to champion in a privilege speech in November 16, 2004.

Earlier, Aquino said he would not attend the wake of murdered transgender Jennifer Laude because he doesn’t attend wakes of people he doesn’t know. One wonders what he might say on the 5th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre on November 23. 

For all his claims of having a common touch, Aquino appears to have nothing but apathy, nay contempt, for the common folk. Look at his record on issues such as land reform, wage and salary increases for working people, the horrible mass transportation system in Metro Manila, the privatization of hospitals, high power rates and his defense of the corrupt pork barrel system.

Aquino’s Fast Food Presidency tries desperately to project something he’s not. The photo ops try hard to conceal what he really is: a hacendero president who cares little for the plight of the poor. And there is nothing comforting about that.

Tragically enough, his presidency has as much substance and nutritional value as the items on a fast-food menu. ###

Aquino Jollibee Singapore

Aquino’s most recent fast food expedition took place in Jollibee Singapore. Photo from ANN/Singapore Straits Times/KUA CHEE SIONG

Ten years ago, November 16, 2004, on the day that the Hacienda Luisita Massacre happened, then congressman and Deputy Speaker Benigno Aquino III delivered a privilege speech at the floor of the House of Representatives.

In his speech, Aquino “joined” the progressive representatives of Bayan Muna and Anakpawis in condemning the violence at the picket line, but stopped short of condemning the actual perpetrators. Instead, Aquino, true to his class and family interest, defended the actions of the Aquino-Cojuangcos, the police and the military.

Ten years have passed and not one government official, not one police or soldier, has been charged in any court for the deaths of seven strikers and supporters, the illegal arrests of more than 100 protesters, and the injuries to scores of unarmed workers.

Not one has been charged. Not one has been made accountable.

Aquino begins his speech as do all congressmen; that he rises on a matter of personal and collective privilege.

Mr. Speaker, the Hacienda Luisita and a factory called Central Azucarera de Tarlac are both located in the Second District of Tarlac which I represent. A lot of people who worked in both firms are residents of my district although there are four other barangays that are also situated within the hacienda and are part of the Third District of Tarlac.

Aquino’s deceptive opening remark makes it appear that he speaks on the issue only because the Luisita dispute happened to take place in his congressional district– that he is speaking simply as the congressional representative of the people. He conveniently fails to mention that he is in fact part of the family that owns and operates the hacienda and the azucarera. His privilege speech was done precisely to defend the economic interests of his landowning family.

Aquino belittles the problems in the hacienda as merely an issue of “retrenchment so on and so forth”, not even bothering to define or enumerate the problems that the farm workers actually faced.

The strike was not just about retrenchment. At the heart of the dispute was the stock distribution option, that scheme which circumvents land reform, where landlords distribute stocks instead of actual land. This was the legal basis for the Aquino-Cojuangco control of the land. It was this scheme that allowed farm workers to get only P9.50 a day for working in the sugar estate. This scheme would later on be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Aquino fulfills his role as spokesman of the Luisita landowners and management, by asserting that the workers strike was illegal and that workers actually wanted to work.

“May I explain. According to the company, no strike vote was called for which is a prerequisite for calling a strike. Most of the workers of the union about 400 out of 736 have decided to take a stand against the so-called strike and have reentered the factory using various means like climbing the factory walls just to gain entry and evade the blockade by what was perceived as just a faction of their union who is not responding to their wishes.”

The strike was a joint action by the farm workers of ULWU protesting the retrenchment of members and union leaders and the sugar mill workers CATLU who were in a deadlock with management over CBA negotiations. Almost all of the 5000 farmworker and all but 70 of the mill workers joined the strike.

For one who purports to speak for his constituents, Aquino only explains the side of management, that the strike “according to the company” was illegal.

“Now, consistent to that Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, I believe two days ago, if I am not mistaken, I am sorry, we have really been exhausted trying to resolve or come up with a peaceful solution to the problem, the PNP exercising maximum tolerance, decided to forego the use of tear gas, water cannons, and so many other devices open to them and just attempted to push out those blocking the entry and exit points of the factory premises, consistent with the deputization order coming from the Department of Labor and Employment.”

At this point in the speech, Aquino pleads for some sympathy due to exhaustion from trying to resolve the dispute. It is unclear who he refers to as “we” in this part of the speech. Is he speaking as part of the landowning family or as an elected public official?

The dispersal Aquino was referring to was the event of November 15 when the PNP attempted to break up the strike but failed because thousands of Luisita farm workers, mill workers and residents resisted. The PNP however did not use maximum tolerance as there were many injuries reported on the side of the strikers. CATLU union chair Ricardo Ramos was among those injured as he was hit on the head.

Aquino takes issue with those manning the picket lines “which up to this point, is being contested as not being made up primarily of workers of the hacienda.”

What Aquino fails to understand is that the entire community, from farm and mill workers and their families, everyone living in Luisita, including the tricycle drivers, vendors, church workers, everyone who witnessed the decades-old exploitation in the estate, were there to support the strike. The strike showcased the solidarity of the oppressed in Luisita.

The November 15 attempt to break up the strike was defeated. It bears mentioning that there were two strikes that occurred. One for the mill workers of CATLU and the other for the farm wokrers of ULWU. The DOLE order only covered the CATLU and not the ULWU.

To that extent, Mr. Speaker, today, new dispersal operations have been conducted. We, together with our colleagues from Bayan Muna and Anakpawis, condemned the violence that happened. But we are questioning as to whether or not the condemnation is directed at the right party.

The reports that I have been getting this whole afternoon, one of them stated that when the dispersal commenced this afternoon, elements of the PNP and the AFP were subjected to sniper fire allegedly coming from a barangay adjacent to the company premises. The results re, that of these men, the reports that we have gotten are: There are at least 10 who are injured on the part of the so-called picketing strikers—ten wounded, three have died and at least another three form the ranks of the government personnel, namely the PNP and the AFP, have also been injured.

Aquino feigns condemnation of the violence. He does not even call it what it was, a massacre. He questions if the condemnation of the various groups was correctly directed at the right party.

Aquino, who was supposed to be speaking for his constituents, whose majority of consisted of farm workers and workers of the sugar mill, again cites reports from the police and military. These are the perpetrators of violence against the strikers. Aquino echoes the police line that the PNP and AFP were subjected to “sniper fire”. The statement was intended to justify the use of lethal force by the AFP and PNP.

Let us refer to the findings of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan which conducted an extensive investigation of the incident.

The PNP claims that the “initial burst of gunfires (sic), single shots in succession, came from the ranks of the striking workers after they crossed the gate and invaded the CAT compound”. If it were true that several armed men infiltrated the ranks of the strikers, why were there no police or military elements who sustained any gunshot wounds during the violent dispersal, and why would the armed men (alleged NPA members) shoot the armed personnel carriers…and not the thick phalanx of more than 600 military and policemen inside the compound?

In the aftermath of the massacre, Aquino appeals to his colleagues to follow the rule of law.

Mr. Speaker, may I ask just one basic question to wind up this personal and collective privilege. We all here are lawmakers. Our main function is to make laws. I understand from our lawyers that I have consulted, for instance the blocking of factory premises is not allowable under the Labor Code. We have been asked to allow this continued blockade, which is already the source of numerous complaints from various small planters who are waiting to reap the proceeds form their panting of sugarcane and to which they have already been experiencing intense economic difficulties, compounded by the poor prices of sugar. We also are asking whether or not the rights of those who have chosen to adhere to the rule of law should be ignored, when it is convenient for certain factions to ignore the law. Is that the position we are taking, Mr. Speaker?

Aquino calls for the respect for the rule of law, yet the very existence of the Hacienda, the very notion that a family can control 6,453 hectares of land along with the lives of those who depend on the land, is not only a violation of the law but of morality and decency. The entire SDO was based on the swindle of the farm workers, also a violation of the law. The massacre of unarmed protesters was a violation of the law. The strike was not the cause of the violence. The decades-old land monopoly of the Cojuangco-Aquinos was.

The most shocking part of Aquino’s privilege speech was the ending.

“The primary responsibility for my district should lie with me, Mr. Speaker. And, unfortunately, there were certain quarters, who I will identify at a future date, who decided to exploit the situation, resulting in injuries and deaths to a lot of my constituents, which I believe calls for justice and I will champion that in due time, Mr. Speaker.”

Ten years ago, Aquino vowed to champion the cause of justice for the victims. He claims that there were those who allegedly exploited the situation, resulting in the deaths of his constituents.

Aquino became president in 2010. Today, not one has been charged in court for the massacre. None of the management of Luisita, who are relatives of the President, has been charged. The Ombudsman has reportedly dismissed the cases filed against the Luisita management, police and military. A crime was committed, seven dead, yet there appears to be no criminals.

Instead of seeking justice for the victims, Aquino continues to champion the interests of the landowning class and the coercive state apparatus that brought about the Luisita Massacre.

In remembering ten years since the massacre at the gates of Luisita, let us remember what the current President truly stands for. ###

*Acknowledgement goes out to the officer of Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna for the audio recording and transcript of the speech.

Aquino Privilege Speech Hacienda Luisita Massacre

November 16, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Hacienda Luisita and a factory called Central Azucarera de Tarlac are both located in the Second District of Tarlac which I represent. A lot of people who worked in both firms are residents of my district although there are four other barangays that are also situated within the hacienda and are part of the Third District of Tarlac. Ever since all of these issues, the idea of retrenchment and so and so forth have occurred due to, according to the company, the distress of the company, we have sought ways and means to alleviate the problems of all our constituents to include not only the workers but also that of the companies that are located in our district, in the interest of serving all our constituents best. We would just like to manifest for the information of all our colleagues, a few days ago, perhaps, I am not sure of the exact date right now Mr. Speaker, but about two days ago if I am not mistaken, the PNP in response to an order, assuming jurisdiction issued by the Department of Labor and Employment, tried to effect a dispersal of a strike which in the opinion of the company and which is subject again of proceedings within the DOLE now was an illegal strike.

May I explain. According to the company, no strike vote was called for which is a prerequisite for calling a strike. Most of the workers of the union about 400 out of 736 have decided to take a stand against the so-called strike and have reentered the factory using various means like climbing the factory walls just to gain entry and evade the blockade by what was perceived as just a faction of their union who is not responding to their wishes. This is significant that in this latest labor dispute that the company is facing, most of the workers have decided to take a position which they believe is in their interest and their future interest. Now, consistent to that Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, I believe two days ago, if I am not mistaken, I am sorry, we have really been exhausted trying to resolve or come up with a peaceful solution to the problem, the PNP exercising maximum tolerance, decided to forego the use of tear gas, water cannons, and so many other devices open to them and just attempted to push out those blocking the entry and exit points of the factory premises, consistent with the deputization order coming from the Department of Labor and Employment.

As a result of this, those who were manning the picket lines, which up to this point, is being contested as not being made up primarily of workers of the hacienda, they were met by a hail of stones and various other implements resulting into the injury of these police officers.

The Regional Director, in his report to me, stated that they decided not to pursue with the dispersal operations given the premise that perhaps this can be settled with the very minimum violence was erroneous, and therefore, pursuing it would have resulted in further injuries.

To that extent, Mr. Speaker, today, new dispersal operations have been conducted. We, together with our colleagues from Bayan Muna and Anakpawis, condemned the violence that happened. But we are questioning as to whether or not the condemnation is directed at the right party.

The reports that I have been getting this whole afternoon, one of them stated that when the dispersal commenced this afternoon, elements of the PNP and the AFP were subjected to sniper fire allegedly coming from a barangay adjacent to the company premises. The results re, that of these men, the reports that we have gotten are: There are at least 10 who are injured on the part of the so-called picketing strikers—ten wounded, three have died and at least another three form the ranks of the government personnel, namely the PNP and the AFP, have also been injured.

Mr. Speaker, may I ask just one basic question to wind up this personal and collective privilege. We all here are lawmakers. Our main function is to make laws. I understand from our lawyers that I have consulted, for instance the blocking of factory premises is not allowable under the Labor Code. We have been asked to allow this continued blockade, which is already the source of numerous complaints from various small planters who are waiting to reap the proceeds form their panting of sugarcane and to which they have already been experiencing intense economic difficulties, compounded by the poor prices of sugar. We also are asking whether or not the rights of those who have chosen to adhere to the rule of law should be ignored, when it is convenient for certain factions to ignore the law. Is that the position we are taking, Mr. Speaker?

Also, consistent with the challenge that they issued to this Representation to join in the investigation of the so-called SDO arrangement, in compliance with the CARP law, we have co-authored, together with them and are awaiting the committee meetings of the Agrarian Reform Committee of the House.

In effect, Mr. Speaker, what I am trying to say simply put, is that as lawmakers I think we are the first who should be championing the adherence completely and faithfully to all the laws governing us instead of mainly complying when it suits us. This is a true situation that has escalated, and I will not name names at this point in time, Mr. Speaker, until I have gathered all of the evidence.

The primary responsibility for my district should lie with me, Mr. Speaker. And, unfortunately, there were certain quarters, who I will identify at a future date, who decided to exploit the situation, resulting in injuries and deaths to a lot of my constituents, which is believe calls for justice and I will champion that in due time, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you and good afternoon.

Today marks a turning point in the history of the Light Rail Transit 1 or LRT 1. The train system is up for privatization. The consortium led by the Ayala group and Metro Pacific of Manny V. Pangilinan will operate the train system for 32 years. They will also be building the extension of the train line to Cavite.

But unlike the beleaguered MRT3 which so often makes the news due to technical glitches and major ccidents, the LRT 1 is doing quite fine under government control. It is not deep in debt. Its revenues even subsidize sister train line LRT2. Yet the Aquino government believes that the LRT 1 should be placed in the hands of private corporations. This, after the government spent P1.8 billion for the rehabilitation of the LRT 1 and LRT 2.

What happens when the train line is privatized. For starters, the LRT 1 will no longer be run like a public service. It will be run just like any other business operated by Ayala and MVP. It will be no different from Maynilad, Manila Water, Smart, Globe and Meralco.

Here are 8 things commuters and the public should know about this P65 billion privatization deal that will be in place for 32 years.

  1. The contract allows private operators a 10.25% fare increase every 2 years and a 5% increase upon the completion of the extension project.
  2. If the fares set by government are less than the fares demanded by the private operators, government will have to pay for the difference. This is called the Deficit Payment.
  3. Commuters or the government will pay for surges in electricity rates. Under the agreement, this is called the Differential Generation Cost. This lays the basis for another fare hike or another government payment.
  4. Fares will also be adjusted based on the prevailing inflation rates.
  5. Government pays for the real property taxes for the 32 year duration of the contract. This can reach up to P64 billion for the term of the contract.
  6. The concessionaire will only pay the government 10% of the Concession Fee of P9.3 billion up front after the signing of the contract. The rest of the concession fee will be paid starting on the 5th year of the contract. This means that the payments for the concession fee will be coming from the operations of the existing train lines. Ginisa tayo sa sariling mantika.
  7.  Around 964 employees of the LRTA are in danger of losing their jobs as they will only be absorbed by the private operator for 6 months.
  8. Government puts up a P500 million blocked account to ensure that it would be able to pay all of the profit guarantees it gave the private operators.
  9. The consortium of Ayala and Metro Pacific is now a train monopoly that controls the operations and maintenance of the LRT Line 1, the extension project, the automated fare collection system and even the common station in Trinoma. They will be in a unique position to dictate fares and everything else related to running the train system.

Government has not learned from the experience of MRT and many other privatization deals gone sour. In the end, it will be the public and the commuters who will shoulder the burden of Aquino’s folly. ###

Train overshoots station in the this photo from PhilStar.com

 

  1. The MRT was a BLT project where private investors will build the system while government will operate it. As a BLT project, government will pay the private investors equity rental for 25 years, after which government will supposedly own the train system. When the project started with the MRTC, the investors included Fil-Estate group of the Sobrepena’s, Ayala Land, Anglo Phil Holdings, Ramcar Inc, Greenfield Development Corp, Antel Land Holdings and DBH Inc
  2. The private investors from the Metro Rail Transit Corporation only invested $190 million from 1995 to -1997. The rest of the project was financed through $488 million in loans that the government of the Philippines fully paid by 2010. It was the Philippine government who was actually shouldering the majority of the cost of the project.
  3. Despite their relatively small investment, the private investors were guaranteed a 15% return on their investment by the government. DOTC estimated this to be a total of $2.4 billion from 2000-2025, or nearly 13 times their original investment. The BLT agreement assures the private investors that they will be paid, no matter what, even if there is no upgrade in the system or if ridership falls.
  4. According to the government, we have paid the private investors of MRTC a whopping $779 million or P32.5 billion in equity rental payments (ERP’s) from 2000-2013. That’s already more than 4 times their original investment. And according to the government, for the period in question, no new trains and significant upgrades in passenger capacity were installed.
  5. Since the ERP’s were guaranteed payments, the private investors securitzed some 77.7% of the future payments. The MRTC shareholders basically sold the rights to collect payments from the Philippine government. Some of the original private investors already cashed in on their future income and used the proceeds from the bond sales to get even more profits. This has given rise to a complicated ownership structure which even involves Manny Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific.
  6.  To corner the profits from advertising and commercial space development, the private investors created a spin-off company called MRT DevCo. This firm received most of the commercial profits from advertising, space development from the MRT system. While in other countries advertising revenues were used to subsidize fares, in our case, the revenues go straight to the pockets of the private investors. In fact, the DOTC is locked in a dispute with MRT Dev Co because the private firm owes government some P1.8 billion.
  7.  From the onset, the train system was maintained by private firms paid by government. During the first 10 years of the contract, maintenance of the train system was handled by Sumitomo, a Japanese firm that was also one of the banks that lent money to finance the project. We paid the private firm around P100 million a month, which is way higher than the P20-30 million a month paid for the maintenance of the government-owned LRT1 and LRT 2.
  8.  After two extensions, the contract with Sumitomo was not renewed. The DOTC proceeded to bid out the interim maintenance contract. Unfortunately for the riding public, the interim contract involving CB&T and PH Trams was mired in controversy after it was discovered that one of the officials of the private consortium was an uncle of the wife of then MRT GM Al Vitangcol. Again it was the taxpayers who paid $1.43 million (P61 million) a month to this private firm at a time when so many maintenance problems in the train lines were recorded. When the contract expired, another bidding took place and this time APT Global won the one-year maintenance contract worth P685 million or around P57 million a month. It was during APT’s term that the worst MRT accident took place after one of the trains overshot the terminal in Pasay Taft.
  9.  Seeing that the 15% guaranteed ROI will only place the government deeper in debt, the Arroyo regime, through Land Bank and DBP, bought 80% of the economic interests of MRTC, including bonds and other instruments representing future payments. This meant that government banks are now entitled to collect 80% of the ERP’s that government itself was paying.
  10. While government bought 80% of the economic interests in MRTC, it is not the same thing as buying ownership of the train system. The original private investors, through MRT Holdings, still claim to be the ones who own the train system. MRT Holdings still own shares of MRTC and even managed to sue the Philippine government over the purchase of new trains.
  11. Government is willing to spend P53 billion, to “buy back” MRT 3, but with the future intent of privatizing its operations and maintenance. Meanwhile, MRT Holdings thinks P53 billion for the buy out is not enough and will not give government ownership of the train system.
  12. MRT Holdings wants to be the one to purchase new trains because it thinks that it can charge the government another 15% for the installation of new passenger capacity. Government is right in rejecting this arrangement by the private investors. However, government officials involved in the purchase of trains also want to profit from the transaction through kickbacks. Remember the incident involving the Czech ambassador and Inekon?
  13. Despite the problems besetting the MRT, government has a pending proposal to raise the fares of the train system from P15 to P28 (North Ave to Taft) or an additional P8 per trip based on the average distance traveled by commuters.
  14. Both the government and the private investors are to blame for the woes faced by commuters. Over the years, the BLT contract and the privatization policy have caused unbearable burden on commuters and taxpayers. The truly sad part is that government, while seeking to “buy-out” the MRT, still seeks to privatize it eventually, bringing us back to where we started. 

It is time for the government to take over the MRT 3, and fix the problems  of capacity and poor maintenance. A government take-over costing billions will be all for naught if it’s direction is re-privatization.  Government should invest in the train system as a necessary mass transport system benefiting taxpayers and the economy as a whole. Government must not abdicate on its role of providing this service to the public, even as we continue to call on government to stamp out corruption within its operations. 

 

 

The real reason for DAP

Posted: July 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

A lot has been said about the Disbursement Acceleration Program especially after the Supreme Court came out with its unanimous decision declaring acts and programs under DAP and NBC 541 as unconstitutional.

A lot has also been said about the good intentions of DAP.

But what was the real intent of the DAP? Was it really aimed at stimulating the economy? Think-tank Ibon believes DAP was economically irrational and disputes that claim that DAP was a stimulus program that had a significant impact on the economy.

So if DAP wasn’t all that, what was it for? Why was it introduced by the Aquino government?

From documents submitted by the DBM to the Supreme Court, it would appear that economic stimulus was never really the intent of DAP. Centralizing and controlling funds were. It was never about the economy. It was all about giving the president control and discretion over billions of pesos, using this as his own slush fund to influence other branches of government and to serve as a well of corruption for those in power.

Why do we say this?

Two DBM memoranda issued on October 12, 2011 and December 12, 2011 indicate that the practice of centralizing unreleased appropriations began as early as November 25, 2010 or barely five months into the term of President Benigno Aquino III.

According to the two memos, the President declared as “savings” some P21.544 billion in unreleased appropriations for “slow moving projects and programs for discontinuance” in November 2010. The so-called “savings” were centralized under the office the President and were cleared for use for “other priority projects.” This happened BEFORE there was even a DAP.

The defenders of DAP will argue that such a move was necessary then because there were presumably questionable projects that were part of Arroyo’s enacted national budget. Remember that Aquino took office on June 30, 2010, after the budget had already been enacted.

However, the unconstitutional practice of declaring as “savings” the “unreleased appropriations”, as well as unprogrammed funds, would continue until 2011 and 2012, even under the budget supposedly scrutinized by Aquino and formulated under the ‘daang matuwid’.

So if the presumption was that there were no more anomalous projects under this regime, why not release appropriations for projects? What was the government’s definition of “slow-moving projects” that funds would not be released? Why allow the withholding of funds?

Meanwhile, since billions were not being released for government projects, there were already reports that the government was under-spending. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda even claims that the slowdown in GDP growth was already being felt during the last quarter of 2010 and way into the start of 2011.

When Aquino declared as savings P21.544 billion in unreleased appropriations from 2010, he did not immediately spend the amount even if he approved its use for “priority projects”.

He waited until he could centralize more funds at which time the slowdown would be more pronounced or felt.

On October 2011, Aquino and Abad placed more funds under the control and discretion of the president. This included P12.336 billion from the 2010 unprogrammed funds, P30 billion in unreleased personal services appropriations for 2011, and P482 million in unreleased appropriations for “slow moving” and discontinued projects for 2011. Also placed under presidential control were P7.7 billion for realignment within agencies.

The P30 billion unreleased personal services appropriations could have come from the failure to hire now personnel or the streamlining or firing of government employees. Certain funds for the benefits or bonuses of government workers normally given at the end of the year were centralized and declared as savings.

Towards last quarter of the year, the slowdown and underspending were becoming more apparent and so government thought it was the perfect time to introduce a “stimulus program”.  Nearly a year of government underspending became a convenient justification for DAP

By October 2011 when the DAP was first introduced, Aquino already had discretion over P72.1 billion in DAP funds which he could appropriate for projects not found in the national budget and for augmentation of special purpose funds like the PDAF of lawmakers. The practice would continue for the next two fiscal years as savings would be declared midyear, for projects that were not completed or finally discontinued.

On December 21, 2011, Aquino approved additional projects worth P13.3 billion.

On June 27, 2012, Aquino signed and approved another Abad memorandum seeking the “omnibus authority to consolidate savings/unutilized balances and their realignment. The approved projects amounted to P32 billion, including P2 billion for Tarlac roadworks and another P8.3 billion “various local projects”. Aquino also approved the withdrawal of unobligated balances of NGA’s for “slow moving projects”, declaring them savings and authorizing their realignment.

On September 5, 2012, Aquino signed and approved Abad’s September 4, 2012 memorandum seeking the “release of funds for other priority projects and expenditures of government.” Projects for this period amounted to nearly P6 billion.

On December 21, 2012, Aquino approved the release of P33.3 billion in DAP funds, once again chargeable against “available savings and the 2012 Unprogrammed Fund.” This again included the item “other various local projects” this time amounting to P2.79 billion.

In May 2013, Aquino approved more DAP releases amounting to P10 billion. This included again an item called “various local projects” amounting to P4.6 billion, the biggest item for the period.

Lastly, on September 25, 2013, Aquino approved the release of P10.534 billion in funds for the Task Force Pablo Rehabilitation plan, supposedly for livelihood, resttlement, infrastructure and social services.

From November 2010 to September 2013, Aquino had wide discretion over P177 billion, which included funding projects not identified in the General Appropriations Act as well as funding projects outside of the Executive.

It was only on January 29, 2014 that the Solicitor General and the DBM secretary declared before the Supreme Court tha the DAP was already terminated at the end of 2013, supposedly because the goals of stimulating the economy have already been met. The announcement that DAP was terminated was aimed at declaring moot the petitions filed before the SC.

However, the SolGen and the DBM maintained that the “authority” to declare and pool savings and use such savings for priority projects identified by the President still remained. This simply meant that while there was no more DAP, the program can be resurrected in the future, under different circumstances, but with the same end of centralizing funds under the control of the President and spending these funds as presidential pork. One wonders, had the SC not declared the DAP unconstitutional, a new incarnation would take place just before the 2016 elections, when the President would need to secure the victory of his LP llies.

The real reason for DAP was fund control. All along the chief executive wanted to have discretion over billions of pesos of funds. DAP was no doubt the president’s special all-purpose fund that could be allotted based on the sole discretion of the chief executive. With the DAP, the president usurped the congressional power of appropriation.

The DAP did not meet its own criteria for disbursing projects; namely  their multiplier impact on the economy and infrastructure development, their beneficial effect on the poor, their translation into disbursements. Instead, DAP would end up in projects not at all beneficial to the poor, and with little impact on economic growth. In the worst cases, DAP would end up lining the pockets of corrupt officials, as can be seen in the DAP funds that went to bogus Napoles NGO’s.

There can be no good faith if there was an intent violate the law, all because of one’s bid to centralize funds and usurp the power of a co-equal branch of government.

Whenever the President would speak on DAP, such as on July 14 and in his upcoming SONA on July  28, let us remember one thing: DAP is presidential pork. In order to enlarge this pork fund, government took away funds from other projects and from its own employees from 2010 to 2013. In order to fulfill DAP’s role as pork, it was dispensed as a bribe or incentive to lawmakers and was used to grant favors for local officials and served as a well of corruption for those in power.

The authors and implementors of DAP thus have to be made accountable. The President has to be made accountable. On Wednesday, we will file an impeachment complaint.  ###

 

 

 

noynoyAquino’s much-awaited DAP speech is upon us. The speech will be televised live tomorrow, July 14, 6pm, and can be viewed on all major networks. After disappearing from public view for 10 days after the DAP decision was issued by the Supreme Court, and after rejecting the resignation of Budget Secretary Butch Abad,  Aquino finally decides to address the nation. 

The last time the president spoke on the subject, we were caught by surprise as he interrupted primetime programming without much of a warning for viewers. This time around, we have some time to ready ourselves. 

 

What is the best way to watch such a highly anticipated speech that is expected to focus on the DAP? Here are some ways.

1. Watch it with a group, with your organization, or family. Watching it alone may cause severe anxiety and possible anger management issues.

2. Choose a place. Public viewing let’s you see the spontaneous reaction of the people. Watch it at the jeepney terminal, tindahan sa kanto, covered court, palengke etc. We will be watching at Plaza Miranda by the way.

3. Eat ahead and be ready for possible loss of appetite after the viewing. 

4. Bring a sign. Every time you feel insulted by the speech, raise the sign.

5. Make your opinion heard after the speech is concluded. Wag kimkimin ang galit at sama ng loob. Huwag ding pigilan ang tawa at baka mautot. Ilabas ang tunay na saloobin ng mamamayan. Maudlot man nya ang primetime viewing, nasa atin namang manonood ang huling salita. Tandaan, mahalaga ang opinyon mo. Mahalaga ang pakikisangkot mo.###

Sa gawain ko sa org, minsan din akong napagkakamalang ibang tao. Heto ang ilan sa mga nakakatawa at nakakatuwang halimbawa. #truestory

1. TV/Radio talent – Minsan sa jeep may lumapit at nag-abot ng maliit na papel, “Ser, pakibati naman misis ko sa programa nyo,” sabi nung tao. “Ano po, wala po akong programa,” sagot ko. “Ah hindi po ba kayo si Joe D’ Mango?” sabi nya.

2. “Reporter po ba kayo?” – Madalas mangyari ito. It raw yung Joseph Morong effect o di naman kaya’y epekto lang ng malabong signal sa TV.

3. “Uy, si Teddy Casino” – Marahil dahil si Teddy ay talagang kilalang lider masa, “Teddy Casino” na rin ang generic na katawagan sa ilang mga aktibista. Ika nga, household name.

4. “Si ano yan, sa Anakbayan/ Akbayan / Anakpawis / Bayan Muna etc” – Madalas na reference ang militanteng organisasyon na kinakatawan natin, kahit minsan hindi eksakto yung pangalan ng organisasyon. Nakatatak na kasi sa isipan ng madla ang mga grupo, dahil na rin sa ilang dekadang pakikibaka. Dun lang sa pangalawa ako di matunawan. Isang malutong na “HINDI PO!”

5. “Bakit po wala kayong security? Di ba congressman kayo?” – Hindi po, aktibista lang po.

6. Basketball player – Minsan sabi ng security sa checkpoint ng UP, “Di ba basketball player kayo?” Nasa loob kasi ako ng sasakyan. Kung bumbaba siguro ako, nagbago isip nya.

7.  Sorry po wrong number - Minsan may tatawag para sa interview. “Hello po, pwede po makausap si Fr. Robert Reyes?” Meron ding malupet na “Hello, ito po ba si Chief Justice Renato Corona?”

8. “Magkasama/classmate/kapitbahay tayo sa …” – Minsan may makakasalubong at mag-uusap kayo sa inaakala mong shared experience ninyo. Babatiin ka ng “Uy kamusta na? Dun ka pa rin sa inyo?” etc. Saka mo maiisip na hindi pala kayo pareho ng pinag-uusapan, na hindi pala kayo classmate/kapitbahay/ka-probinsya etc. Awkward.

 

Sa mga pagkakataong ito, isa lang ang magiliw kong sagot. “Sa BAYAN po ako.”

“Ang BAYAN po ay isang alyansa ng iba’t ibang organisasyon. Iba pa po ito sa Bayan Muna na isang partylist group,” ang madalas ding dagdag na paliwanag.

Bukas Mayo 5 ang ika-29 na anibersaryo ng organisasyong ito. Maligayang kaarawan sa Bayan, ang Bagong Alyansang Makabayan!