Hubris in the Palace

By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Streetwise | BusinessWorld

Ergo, there will be no sacrificial lambs even if one of the most likely candidates, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, is actually the intellectual author and chief implementor of the DAP. Of course Mr. Abad’s boss gave his imprimatur, knowingly and willingly, as documents submitted to the Court and Mr. Aquino’s own avowals prove without a doubt.

According to the Palace, the President’s lawyers are still studying his legal options. Mr. Abad claims that the SC overlooked Article VI, Section 25 (5) of the 1987 Charter giving the President the authority to augment appropriations using savings. Apparently the Budget Secretary has not seriously studied the Court decision since he clearly missed out on one of its main parts — the way the Executive wrongfully categorized certain funds as “savings” when these could not have been so classified and treated as such.

Considering the time and effort the Court spent on the DAP before issuing a unanimous decisio, did Mr. Aquino think that he would have a chinaman’s chance of overturning the Court decision? Or is this just a way to buy time while Mr. Aquino’s not-so-bright boys scramble to do damage control and reduce the widening political fallout.

But then again we suspected that Mr. Aquino would buck the DAP decision, what with the graceful exit the Court gave Malacaang: the declaration that only acts and practices under DAP are unconstitutional and not the DAP itself; the gratuitous acceptance that the DAP was what it was intended to be, a budget mechanism to stimulate the economy; the uncritical acceptance that the DAP benefitted the public because of infrastructure such as schoolhouses, roads and bridges it funded; the blind eye to the Palace admission that the billions of additional funds channeled to the senators who had voted for Corona’s impeachment came from the DAP; and the lack of specificity as to who was responsible for running hoops around the exclusive power of Congress to appropriate funds.

Justice Marvic Leonen’s separate opinion is a study in legal circumlocution and obfuscation that ends up helping Malacaang evade responsibility and shirk accountability. It is quoted by a columnist who is the President’s brother-in-law as the basis for arriving at the conclusion that the DAP, being “complex,” had only its parts declared unconstitutional and not its entirety, that the justices were not in unanimity over its decision and that “the presumption of good faith is a universal one.”

Too bad for Mr. Aquino and his DAP cohorts, the justices were able to see through the DAP’s obvious violation of the Constitution.

Malacanang’s excuses are getting tied up in knots. From Mr. Aquino’s imperious public declaration on national television that the DAP is legal, innovative, transparent, beneficent and clean, he now has to fall back on legal hair-splitting to try to escape from the impeachable charge of culpable violation of the Constitution.

With the testimony of Mr. Benhur Luy and other whistleblowers in the Napoles pork barrel scam that some of the senators’ DAP funds went to Napoles’ fake NGOs, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda now belatedly admits that maybe DAP was not spent entirely without anomaly. Still, he thunders that only 9% of DAP were ladled out to the senators who coincidentally all voted to impeach Chief Justice Corona.

Mr. Lacierda then challenged these senators to explain where their DAP monies went.

This hypocritical stance has caused umbrage among implicated senators. Senator Chiz Escudero, head of the Senate Committee on Finance, has countered with a demand that the Budget Department make a full accounting of the DAP funds.

Despite the Court directive to provide a complete listing of where the DAP funds were spent, Malacañang has not done so. Even after the DAP decision came out, it still refuses to come clean on this matter to the point that even the media are asking why the DAP list of expenditures is top secret. The lame excuse given by Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma that the matter is sub judice is laughable.

Only a thorough special audit can determine whether the DAP funds were given to political allies of the President and the ruling Liberal Party as some suspect, and whether these were taken from vital social services like health care only to be lost to non-priority projects, or worse lost to the corruption mill. Unfortunately, the current Commission on Audit (COA) chair has already prejudged the issue with her earlier defense of the DAP and refusal to conduct a special audit when asked by anti-pork groups.

To top it all, here comes Mr. Aquino believing his own propaganda that he is God’s gift to Filipinos, finally going on air only to say he will not accept the token resignation of Secretary Abad because he “can’t accept doing right by our people is wrong.”

The message Mr. Aquino is sending is one of defiance and derision of the Court’s decision on the DAP. Mr. Aquino is now asserting that he is not bound to follow the highest court of the land because he has a different interpretation of he ruling, because he knows he has done no wrong (and by extension his Cabinet secretaries as his alter egos have also done nothing wrong), and because he is supposedly on the straight and narrow path for which his people love and support him unconditionally.

In other words he is above reproach and above any accountability. Methinks if this abusive Chief Executive cannot be shamed to resign or be impeached, he deserves to be ousted.

Carol Pagaduan-Araullo is a medical doctor by training, social activist by choice, columnist by accident, happy partner to a liberated spouse and proud mother of two.

Published at The Business World
July 13, 2014

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  1. All I can say with this article is that almost all critics do not have an alternative solution on how to run our country better without DAP. All previous Administrations had their own version of DAP or stimulus fund, not even excluding the Supreme Court. The Administration has proven itself to have improved the Philippine economy better than two or three previous presidents combined. To paint a very sad and bad picture about the present government will do no good to our people. It’s good that the media, as the so-called fourth branch of the government, will do its part in helping guard our people’s tax money. But telling the world very negative things about the Administration without presenting even one positive point about it is really “social activism” [or so the brief bio declares] in its worst.

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