As our esteemed Perry Diaz of GlobalBalita.Com said below, the Philippine presidential (& vice presidential) election is now less than a year from happening. And yet voters are still none the wiser who would be running and who should be elected for the highest positions in the land.
No one really has shown exemplary apptitude and total dedication in serving the country and its people with intelligence and savvy during the course of P-Noy’s term(s). We were only made aware of this situation during typhoon Haiyan’s onslaught of Cebu & Tacloban. It was globally reported the ineffectual governmental handling of the search and rescue. It was at this time that the word ‘disaster’ really lived up to its true and full meaning!
The politicking is self-serving, lucklustre, downright ineffectual due to lack of experience or corrupt.
The machination that goes on behind the scene also adds to the confusion of the masses and to the politicians themselves. The unfortunate result of this confusion will bring out the worst in everyone!
To the voters and electors: YOU GET THE GOVERNMENT YOU DESERVE!
With less than a year to the 2016 presidential elections, the presidential musical chairs game has started in earnest. And there are several games going all at once by groups called political parties or “coalitions.”
To start with, these political parties are not ideological parties like what you’d see in the United States and other countries. The Philippines’ political parties are just vehicles — like the country’s unique colorful jeepneys — where politicians can take a ride hoping that it would bring them to their destinations. However, if the jeepney they’re riding in is too slow or is caught in a traffic jam, they can always transfer to another jeepney.
Having said that, let’s take a look at what’s going on with the various presidential musical chairs games. Of course the biggest game is in President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s Liberal Party (LP). There are many ambitious participants but only one will be anointed. What would happen to those who would be eliminated? In Philippine politics, there are no gracious losers, only sore losers.
Right now, the LP has only Mar Roxas vying for the party’s presidential nomination, the process of which is for P-Noy to “anoint” who the nominee will be. But Roxas, whom P-Noy had appointed as Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to give him more “public exposure,” lacks the popular support for a presidential run. Recent surveys show him running behind three or four other potential contenders. With an anemic showing that doesn’t seem to improve his chances of winning, P-Noy was hesitant to throw his support behind Roxas, who had given way to P-Noy in the 2010 presidential election and settled to be P-Noy’s running mate.
However, Roxas lost the vice presidency to Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, who, in the final weeks of the 2010 elections, overtook Roxas in the vice presidential derby. As it turned out, a hitherto secret organization known as “Noy-Bi” was credited for Binay’s surge in the campaign. It’s interesting to note that “Noy-Bi” was not a LP-sanctioned campaign organization. However, it was organized by relatives, friends, and allies who believed that Binay was a true Aquino supporter whose link to the Aquino family goes back to the People Power days of the late president Cory Aquino.
What the LP sanctioned was the “Noy-Mar” campaign committee, which consisted mainly of LP old hands and stalwarts. And this was supposedly the organization that pushed hard to get Roxas elected. But the resources the Noy-Bi had were far too much than what the Noy-Mar organization had. With a campaign chest brimming with contributions from the Aquino and Cojuangco families and their rich allies, Roxas lost to Binay.
In the upcoming 2016 elections, we’d probably see Binay pitted against Roxas again, but this time their contest would move up to the presidential level. However, that would only happen if P-Noy would stick to his promise to support Roxas’ presidential run in 2016. But the problem is Roxas has a ghost of a chance of beating Binay.
The sudden rise of neophyte Sen. Grace Poe in recent SWS and Pulse of Asia surveys was a game changer. No longer is Binay seen as the unbeatable presidential candidate, the surge in Poe’s polls numbers has toppled Binay from his lofty pedestal, which he had distinctly occupied ever since he won the vice-presidency in 2010.
Seeing Poe’s presidential potential, P-Noy invited her and Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero to Malacanang to talk about a “united ticket” that would include Roxas since Grace and Chiz aren’t LP members but Independents. But their bond was so tight that Grace has made it known that if she decided to run for president next year, she’d want Chiz to be her running mate. Chiz said that he’d support Grace in any decision she makes.
What P-Noy has in mind is to have Roxas team up with either Grace or Chiz as his running mate, which means that one of them would be sacrificed for the good of the LP coalition. The problem with this arrangement is what would be the role of the person who is sacrificed? But before we answer that question, we should first ask if Grace or Chiz were willing to run for vice president under an LP “united ticket”?
Although Grace hadn’t decided yet whether she’s going to run for president or not, she had taken herself out of the vice-presidential race next year, saying that if she’s going to run for a higher office, it might as well be the presidency.
In the case of Chiz, who has been high on the surveys for vice president, it’s not known if he was willing to be somebody’s running mate other than Grace. Needless to say, he has to make his decision whether to run for president, which is unlikely, or vice president. He could run as Binay’s running mate since the two have good relationship in the past. In 2010, Chiz was one of the leaders of the “Noy-Bi” group, a fact that could dampen any attempt to pair him up as Roxas’ running mate.
If Chiz accepts an offer to team up with Binay, they might have the right chemistry to run a good campaign. With Binay having all money to spend in the campaign and Chiz tapping the Filipino taipans’bottomless money pits, they could be a formidable team. However, with Binay’s corruption and plunder cases hanging over his head and the strong resentment against China right now, a Binay-Chiz tandem might not be the way to go. But Chiz has the flexibility to team up with anybody because he, like Grace, is an Independent. In the case of Binay, nobody is willing to run as his running mate. Has the stigma of corruption finally found its mark on Binay?
Being regionalist is a Filipino thing. My forefathers were from the Ilocos region and as such I should be able to relate to Enrile, him being an Ilocano as well, I should feel for him even a little bit, but I don’t. I have never liked the man.
As far as I am concerned, he deserves all he gets and more. If there is any justice in the Philippines, Enrile should be given a one way ticket to jail. Lock him up and throw away the key!
After half-century of political life, erstwhile Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile stepped down from the pinnacle of power in June 2013, a role that he had performed with calculated planning and precise execution. His adroit balancing act during the impeachment trial of then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was the epitome of his political career.
Enrile began his public life as then-Senate President Ferdinand E. Marcos’ personal lawyer in 1964. When Marcos was elected President in 1965, he appointed Enrile – who had become part of his inner circle – in various capacities: Undersecretary/Acting Secretary of Finance, Acting Insurance Commissioner, Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Secretary of the Department of National Defense.
In 1971, he resigned as National Defense Secretary, after serving for only a year, to run for a Senate seat. He lost in his first electoral try. Marcos re-appointed him as National Defense Secretary in 1972.
On September 21, 1972, Enrile survived an alleged assassination by communist insurgents as he was riding in his car. Marcos declared martial law citing the ambush attack on Enrile. In 1973, Enrile became Minister of Defense under a modified parliamentary system, one of the most — if not the most — powerful positions under the Marcos martial rule.
As one of the 12 architects of martial law, Marcos presented Enrile and the others with a gold Rolex watch each. Hence, they came to be known as the “Rolex 12.” Enrile’s role was crucial because as it turned out the ambush on him was a fake. It was stage-managed to give Marcos a justification to declare martial law.
The turning point in Enrile’s relationship with Marcos came in the early 1980s when Marcos changed the chain of command in the armed forces. Enrile was no longer in the loop! The new chain of command was from Marcos, as the Commander-in-Chief, straight to the Chief of Staff, Gen. Fabian Ver, who was a cousin of Marcos. Enrile swallowed his pride and stayed on as a powerless Defense Secretary.
After Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was assassinated on August 21, 1983, Enrile made his move: he secretly aligned himself with the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), which was headed then by his Aide-de-Camp Lt. Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan.
In February 1986, Enrile with support from RAM and the “Cagayan 300,” a shadowy militia – or private army — purportedly organized by Enrile, launched a coup d’état against Marcos. It was also rumored that Enrile got the support of the CIA (Source: “The Gold Warrior” by Sterling Seagrave)
Gen. Fidel V. Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile during the EDSA People Power Revolution.
However, the day before the launching of the coup d’état, Ver discovered the plot and alerted Marcos. Marcos ordered the arrest of Enrile and then-Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos who was also a cousin of Marcos and also one of the “Rolex 12.” Enrile, Ramos, and their supporters barricaded themselves at Fort Aguinaldo. When word went out that a revolt was in progress, the people rallied around them, which sparked a popular citizens’ revolt that came to be known as the People Power Revolution. Enrile and Ramos were acknowledged as heroes of the revolution.
But fate wasn’t so kind to Enrile. For the second time, the presidency eluded him. Ninoy’s widow, Cory Aquino, was swept to the top by the masa. Enrile settled for the same post that he held under Marcos, Secretary of Defense. But he didn’t stay too long. He was forced to resign in November 1986 after a few months on the job. Cory probably thought that if Enrile rebelled against Marcos, he could do the same to her. Ramos took over the Defense post.
Since then Marcos loyalists and Honasan’s “RAM boys” who were unhappy with Cory’s leadership launched six successive coup d’états. Due to Enrile’s closeness to Honasan, he was believed to have supported the failed rebellions.
In 1987, Enrile ran and won a Senate seat. In 1992, he ran and won a congressional seat representing his bailiwick, the First District of Cagayan. In 1995, he entered the Senate race again and won a seat as an Independent.
In 1998, he tried to reach the presidency for the third time. He ran as an independent candidate against then-Vice President Joseph “Erap” Estrada. But Erap was unbeatable.
Enrile votes “No” to opening second bank envelope.
During the impeachment trial of Erap in 2001, Enrile was one of those who voted against opening the controversial “second bank envelope.” That vote triggered the Second EDSA People Power Revolution that ousted Erap.
In May 2001, Enrile ran for reelection to his Senate seat and lost. In 2004, he made a comeback and regained his old Senate seat. In 2008, he was elected by his peers to serve as Senate President. He was reelected in 2010.
In 2012, he reached the high mark of his political life when he presided over the Senate impeachment trial of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona. He led a group of seven senators who pledged to vote as one bloc. The group met on the night before the judgment day to decide for acquittal or conviction. Enrile presided over the group discussion and he advocated for conviction to which the group concurred.
Had the group voted for acquittal, Corona would have been absolved of the charges. Once again, Enrile took a step to change the course of Philippine history.
In an attempt to keep a Senate seat for the Enrile family, his only son, then-Rep. Jack Enrile, ran for the Senate in 2013. He was ahead in the polls initially but his ratings fell down after stories of his involvement in the shooting deaths of several individuals surfaced in the news and social media. He lost the election.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago
On December 4, 2013, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago delivered a privilege speech attacking Enrile for a variety of crimes including plunder, illegal gambling, illegal logging, and illegal importation at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA). Miriam also accused Enrile of masterminding the pork barrel scam.
In her speech, she requested Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate the thousands of deaths and forced disappearances during the Martial Law era wherein Enrile served as Defense Minister from 1972 to 1986.
Within days of Miriam’s scathing attack against Enrile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) formed a seven-member special joint task force to investigate Miriam’s allegations against Enrile.
Enrile finally reached the end of the road. But the question remains: Is he going to beat the rap? If not, he’d probably end up in a kubol (cottage) for the rich on the grounds of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinglupa City. However, if he beats the rap, he’d probably spend the rest of his life in the comfort of a white mansion on an idyllic island off the coast of Cagayan, his birthplace.
Indeed, life has been good to Enrile who was supposedly born out of wedlock to a poor woman fathered by renowned and married lawyer. Reunited with his father in his early years, he pursued a career in law, which opened a lot of doors to the corridor of power. He occupied high positions in government but the one that he wanted most – the presidency — eluded him.
But whatever fate bestows upon him at the sunset of his long and colorful life, he can reflect and say, “It was good; not bad at all.” Indeed.
Below is a very interesting article from Perry Diaz of PerryScope at GlobalBalita.
It tells of PNoy’s off the radar personal control of trillion of funds which he authorised and can dispose off anyway he wants without come back of censures from any agency of the Government. The fund is a smack of totalitarianism. 😉
Without an in force freedom of information (FOI), we, the public, cannot know what he intends to spend the monies on. He could be giving these to his kins and cronies, who plotted, cajoled and prodded to put him in power? He could be planning to make a lasting legacy of his family by creating a supedooper monument which could be a monumental mistake as we are now finding out that Ninoy Sr legacy starts and ends with the renaming of the Manila International Airport. Ninoy’s death looks like to end in vain, and sadly by his very own son’s making!!! 🙁
Perhaps it was the wrong Aquinos who have been in the presidential seat. Probably the right one is in our faces all along. Perhaps she is the one……..
If there is one trait that has remained the bedrock of colonial mentality long after Spain soldLas Islas Filipinas to Uncle Sam for $20 million over a century ago, it is the time-tested “padrino system” that we inherited from the Spanish colonizers. It is ingrained in the Filipino psyche affecting his way of life including the way he deals with others.
Indeed, in today’s Filipino body politic, business and politics are so intertwined in our lives that you cannot do business without politics and vice versa. We conclude a business transaction if it is good politics and we seal a political alliance if it is good business.
As someone once said, “In America the people get rich to enter politics; in the Philippines people enter politics to get rich.” And the way – only way! — to getting rich in office is through corruption.
It is not surprising then that corruption seems to be the standard of governance. Government officials are expected – nay, required! – to adhere to an unwritten “code of conduct.” And for those who don’t adhere to this code, the punishment could be as severe as putting to an end their political future and a closure to profitable corrupt practices.
The most profitable source of ill-gotten wealth among the elected members of Congress is the pork barrel system. In the guise of helping their poor constituents and improving the infrastructure of their congressional districts, pork barrel allocations — or what is known officially as Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) – are released to projects identified and endorsed by the lawmakers receiving the pork barrel allocations.
The beauty of PDAF is that it was designed to release pork barrel funds directly to the vendor or provider of goods through certified and legitimately operating non-government organizations (NGOs) who serve as the implementing agencies. These NGOs are non-profit entities. They are responsible for ensuring that the pork barrel funds are used according to plan. The endorsing lawmakers are not supposed to receive any compensation for their endorsement. In essence, pork barrel funds are exclusively for the benefit of the people.
Pork barrel scam
(Better days: Janet Lim-Napoles and President Aquino)
But as it turns out, large chunks of the pork barrel funds disbursed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) under the Office of the President did not go where they were intended to but went to the pockets of the endorsing lawmakers through a scam operated by Janet Lim-Napoles. This netted her P10 billion in the past 10 years. But the lion’s share went to the lawmakers who were alleged to have received kickbacks amounting from 50% to 70% of the funds diverted from the PDAF.
(Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.)
However, this could just be the tip of the iceberg. Ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) has produced evidence of massive corruption involving a large number of lawmakers. The first batch of lawmakers charged with plunder and malversation of public funds were Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. But more charges will be filed against other lawmakers and government officials. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima announced that the DOJ is working on the second and third batches of lawmakers to be brought to court.
(Late President Cory Aquino and son President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III)
Never in the history of the Philippines had these many lawmakers and government officials involved in raiding the PDAF since it was created under another name during the time of the late president Cory Aquino, President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s mother.
In 1989 Cory created the Mindanao Development Fund (MDF) and the Visayas Development Fund (VDF), with an appropriation of P480 million and P240 million, respectively. In 1990, the MDF and VDF were combined and expanded nationwide as the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) with an appropriation of P2.3 billion. In 2000, the CDF was renamed “PDAF.”
Since then, the PDAF has taken a quantum leap under P-Noy’s administration. DBM records show that in 2010, Gloria’s last budget year, PDAF was P6.9 billion. The following year, with P-Noy having full control of the budget, he could have pared down the PDAF allocations. But instead, PDAF allocations increased substantially. In 2011, PDAF more than tripled from 2010’s P6.9 billion to P22.3 billion! In 2012, it was increased to P24.89 billion. It was for the same amount in 2013. But in 2014, PDAF increased to a record P27 billion; however, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping further releases of PDAF allocations and the President’s Social Fund (PSF). Also covered in the TRO are releases from the Malampaya Fund. The TRO was in response to three citizens’ petitions that asked the court to declare as unconstitutional the lump sum allocations under the PDAF and the PSF, and the misuse of the Malampaya Fund.
“Pork Barrel King”
The PDAF is peanuts compared to the presidential discretionary fund, which has grown to P1.3 trillion in 2014. Many constitutionalists claim that this humongous fund is in all appearances a pork barrel. However, amidst a growing public outcry against the presidential pork barrel, P-Noy – dubbed “Pork Barrel King” — has bullheadedly insisted that it is not pork barrel.
But nothing is more offensive than P-Noy’s newly crafted Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a new pork barrel program that was created without congressional authority. DAP was designed to use “savings” from budgeted items, which was legal only if the savings were realized from under-spent budgeted programs or projects at the end of a fiscal year. Legal experts opined that it becomes constitutionally illegal when “savings” result from arbitrarily ending or under-spending a program or project before the fiscal year ended. It’s interesting to note that DAP is created, controlled, and disbursed exclusively by the President. And the kicker is: it’s unaudited!
Indeed, P-Noy has pulled off a coup d’etat against Congress, which effectively grabbed the “power of the purse” from the lawmakers thus making P-Noy a “fiscal dictator” with absolute authority over a large amount of the people’s money.
Interestingly, the DAP in 2012 accumulated about P700 billion for P-Noy to use any which way he wants. Now that is absolute power, which reminds us of Lord Acton’s famous mantra that he expressed in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
“The buck stops here”
Finger-pointing (Credit: Bulatlat)
In the final analysis, one of the causes of the pork barrel scandal was P-Noy’s DAP, which is given to lawmakers at the sole discretion of P-Noy and without the requisite checks and balances to prevent corruption at the highest levels of government. By not putting them in place, P-Noy must be held responsible for the corruption in his administration.
The late U.S. President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that says, “The buck stops here.” This saying was derived from the expression “pass the buck.” It means passing responsibility on to someone else when something goes wrong, which is what P-Noy does all the time.
Recently, P-Noy addressed the people on national television and declared: “I am not a thief!” I believe him. He said that the thieves are the lawmakers who stole from their pork barrel allocations. Yes, these are the thieves who benefitted from P-Noy’s generosity. That makes P-Noy the godfather of thieves, the “Gran padrino de los ladrones.”
It seems to me that PNoy has forgotten who he works for. Filipinos are screaming to end the majorly scandalous and heavily abused pork barrel (PDAF) but he seems deaf to all the pleas. PNoy is dragging his feet, obviously heavily held on to by his cohorts in both the Upper and Lower courts of Congress.
PNoy, be the President that you were lucky enough to be accoladed by the Filipino voters.
I think PNoy should present the list of donors to his election campaign. We would know then who were those people PNoy owes something. I bet they all hold governmental positions now or using the Government for their own self interests. What a corruption!!!
The Philippine Supreme Court, in a move that caught administration officials by surprise, issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) last September 10 stopping further releases of funds from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the President’s Social Fund (PSF). Also covered in the TRO are releases from the Malampaya Fund, which President Benigno Aquino III had used in projects that had nothing to do with “financing energy resource development and exploitation programs and projects of the government” as required by law.
The TRO was in response to three citizens’ petitions that asked the court to declare as unconstitutional the lump sum allocations under the PDAF and the PSF, and the misuse of the Malampaya Fund. The petitioners are former senatorial candidates Greco Belgica and Samson Alcantara, and former Marinduque Board Member Pedrito Nepomuceno.
The respondents include Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Senate President Franklin Drilon, and House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.
Mockery of the Constitution
In his petition, Alcantara said: “The pork barrel system allows the perversion of taxation by providing opportunities for the members thereof to gorge themselves in funds collected pursuant to tax legislation they have enacted purportedly for the public good.”
He called the pork barrel system a “mockery” of the constitutional mandate on “accountability, honesty and integrity of public officers.” He said that the President could end up “controlling” the lawmakers because the system allowed him to release or withhold the funds, which is in violation of the constitutional separation of powers.
It’s interesting to note that while the respondents indicated that they would comply with the TRO, Speaker Belmonte raised an issue. “To abolish it 100 percent, to reform it, to do anything with it, it is my position that it’s a political question which under our system of government belongs to Congress,” he told the media.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
But Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio seems to support the petitioners’ arguments. During the hearing for the oral arguments on the petitions last October 8, he said that the PDAF “on its face is unconstitutional” because the President cannot share the power to utilize public funds with the legislative branch. He said that the power to utilize public funds lies solely with the President; therefore, any power-sharing is unconstitutional. He said that the PDAF is “riddled with unconstitutionality.”
Carpio also said that while the Constitution allowed the President to realign savings, he couldn’t delegate that authority to Cabinet secretaries.
Carpio also said that another unconstitutional provision is the power given to Congress to concur with the realignment of funds, and the privilege given to lawmakers to identify their projects. He said that these provisions circumvent the “power of the President to veto.” “It violates the right of the President to veto projects. It destroys the check and balance when it comes to the executive and legislative branches of government,” he said.
There is a groundswell of support for the abolition of the pork barrel system, which many believe is the source of massive corruption. Indeed, a citizens’ movement for the abolition of the pork barrel system is spreading like wildfire.
An EDSA “people power” revolution might be welcome to the suffering poor. However, oligarchic forces – like those behind EDSA 1 and EDSA 2 — usually lead this kind of revolution, which is actually anti-revolutionary intended to preserve the oligarchy, albeit with a new set of players. But the people are now tired of “people power” revolutions where “change” is nothing more than re-invented slogans and recycled trapos (traditional politicians).
It is therefore in this context that a “judicial interference” is, imperatively, the only instrument for real change. This is because the executive and legislative branches of government have abdicated from their core responsibility of implementing laws that are consistent with not only the letter of the law but, more importantly, the spirit of the law. And what a better time to do it than now!
Speaker Belmonte can continue to argue that the abolition of pork barrel is the prerogative of Congress and that the Supreme Court should stay out of congressional business. But how can the high magistracy of the land stay out of it when there are – right now! — three valid petitions filed before it? Simply put, the Supreme Court may not have any alternative but to rule on the constitutionality of the pork barrel system. After all, its job – and solemn duty – is to make sure that any law enacted by Congress, if challenged, must be within the purview of the Constitution.
To avoid the death knell for the pork barrel system, Congress must act to reform it and to institute controls to prevent anyone – particularly the lawmakers – from raiding the people’s treasury. But wouldn’t this be akin to the Mafia policing itself to prevent the Mafiosi from committing crimes? For this reason, the only branch of government that can institute real reforms to the pork barrel system and avoid its abolition is the Judiciary.
In reforming the pork barrel system, the high court should be cognizant that lawmakers thrive on pork barrel. Indeed, pork barrel is to Philippine lawmakers as ambrosia was to the Greek gods. It’s their food. Deprive them of their food and they’d wither away.
It would not then come as a surprise if the members of Congress – with collaboration from the executive branch – were to lobby the 15 justices of the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of pork barrel. It is a fight not only for their livelihood but also to save their political lives. In other words, it’s all about self-preservation.
DBM Secretary Florencio Abad and President Benigno Aquino
President Aquino is now at the crossroads of his presidency. Would he heed the wishes of his “boss,” the people, or would he pander to the corrupt political establishment? It shouldn’t be a hard choice to make; however, there were times when “political expediency” had taken precedence over good governance. And by the looks of it, Aquino seems like he is bent on maintaining the status quo, with some “reforms” to keep everybody happy… except the people.
Last October 14, the House of Representatives announced that the P27-billion PDAF would be scrapped from the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014. But the PDAF and PSF (President’s Social Fund) are just small portions of the President’s P450-billion Special Purpose Funds (SPF). If you add the SPF, the Unprogrammed Funds, and the Funds Under the President’s Control, you’re looking at a huge pork barrel totaling P1.33 trillion! Does it seem like Aquino’s allies in the House are sacrificing the tiny PDAF to preserve the obscenely humongous presidential pork barrel? However, Malacañang insists that these are not pork barrel. What is it then?
Ultimately, the people will be the final arbiter, which brings to mind the question: Is the end of pork barrel near or is it here to stay? A wise man once said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Yes, indeed.
Never before in the history of the Philippines has a corruption scandal rocked the corridors of power to its foundations as it had with the pork barrel scam. With at least 12 senators and more than 180 congressmen allegedly involved in robbing their pork barrel allocations with the help of greedy and unscrupulous scam operators, it makes one wonder if the country’s Fifth Republic could survive this mother of all scandals?
The question is: Does President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III have the cojonesto bring them – many of whom are his political allies — to justice? And if they’re brought to the court of law, are there judges who are brave enough to mete out justice? Or, are we going to see another spectacle of a moro-morothat the lawmakers love to play?
In the past, the masa – the people – ignored the charades the lawmakers would play when a corruption scandal erupts. Congress would go through the motion of conducting televised “blue ribbon committee” hearings. But when the hearing is over, they’re back to square one. Nothing is accomplished and the lawmakers go back to their old haunts. It’s all for show and the public couldn’t care less. But not anymore!
A few weeks ago, Janet Lim Napoles — who earned the sobriquet “Pork Barrel Queen” – was exposed for allegedly running a scam. With the collusion of some lawmakers, Napoles siphoned off billions from the lawmakers’ pork barrel allocations. Recent evidence showed that she ran the scam for 10 years and pocketed P10 billion based on a 70-30 split, with the lawmakers’ getting the lion’s share.
With a whopping 70% kickback from pork barrel funds that were supposed to be used for projects for their constituents, these corrupt lawmakers are like Robin Hood… in reverse. Instead of robbing the rich to give to the poor, they steal from their pork barrel allocations with the aid of Napoles. It was a perfect scam until a whistleblower, Benhur Luy, sang like a canary.
As the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates Luy’s accusation, the DOJ filed an unrelated charge of “serious illegal detention” – a non-bailable offense – against Napoles for allegedly detaining Luy against his will. A judge issued a warrant of arrest against Napoles; however, she fled into hiding when someone from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) allegedly leaked it to her.
She came out of hiding after P-Noy offered a bounty of P10 million to whoever could provide information that would lead to her arrest. Strange as it might seem, Napoles surrendered last August 29 to P-Noy. Claiming that she feared for her life, she said that P-Noy is the only person she could trust. Makes one wonder if P-Noy might have done “business” with her when he was a congressman and a senator?
Rumors abound that Napoles would turn state witness. Could it be that the charges of “serious illegal detention” was used to secure and protect her from people who might want to assassinate her? Dead people can’t testify.
According to news report, Levito Baligod, lawyer of the whistleblowers, said that the DOJ is preparing to file plunder complaints against Napoles and at least 10 people including lawmakers and officials of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) implicated in the pork barrel scam. But the DOJ would not confirm or deny it. However, the special audit report compiled by the Commission on Audit (COA) linked Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan to the scam. Lately, Senators Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Loren Legarda were added to the list. Since plunder is a non-bailable offense, would the DOJ arrest them and detain them?
But how about the other senators and congressmen whose names appeared on the COA special Audit report? Some people noticed that the senators linked to the scam are members of the opposition. Interestingly, administration allies like Sen. Ralph Recto and former Sen. Edgardo Angara were not included but their names appear on the COA special report. This led many to believe that P-Noy is using the pork barrel scandal to bring down opposition leaders, particularly those who are vying for higher office in 2016; i.e., Estrada, Marcos, and Revilla. A news report even insinuated that Napoles is P-Noy’s “attack dog.”
Assuming that Napoles would turn witness for the government, how strong is the evidence against the lawmakers? Will it result in a conviction? Without the ability to scrutinize their bank accounts because of a constitutional provision that protects Foreign Currency Deposit Act (FCDA) accounts, the government could not pore into a depositor’s “secret account” without the depositor’s authorization. And who in his right mind would do that?
And this is where the problem lies: the constitution protects the corrupt!
In my article, “Institutionalized corruption,” (November 23, 2012), I wrote: “In many countries, like the United States, people with ill-gotten wealth deposit their money in banks in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands, where bank secrecy laws protect the identity of depositors. But in the Philippines, a corrupt official, a drug lord or a jueteng operator doesn’t need to go abroad to hide their dirty money. Yep, they can go straight to their local bank and open a foreign currency deposit account and nobody can see it, not even government investigators.
“Known as ‘Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines,’ Republic Act (RA) 6426 was signed into law by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1974 during the martial law era. The law states that any information can only be disclosed ‘upon written permission of the depositor.’ Many believe that it was enacted for the purpose of hiding the ill-gotten wealth of Marcos and his cronies.
“But RA 6426 survived when the people power revolution toppled the Marcos dictatorship. Oddly, it remains in the books to this day. Perhaps, the lawmakers find it useful.
“After Corona was impeached and removed from office, there was a move by a few lawmakers to amend or repeal RA 6426. But P-Noy didn’t warm up to the idea and it ended up in limbo, never to see the light of day again.”
Betrayal of public trust
If P-Noy is really serious about fighting institutionalized corruption, he needs to do, at a minimum, two things: (1) Endorse and prioritize the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, and (2) Remove the secrecy lid of FCDA or, better, repeal it.
If he fails to act, then he might as well kiss his anti-corruption crusade goodbye. The people have suffered for too long from the “robbing hoods” of Congress. Now is the time to exact vengeance against these despicable lowlifes masquerading as honorable public servants.
What is happening to our country today is a systemic pillaging through executive and legislative fiat that has institutionalized a criminal enterprise by those elected to serve the very people who voted them into office. That is betrayal of public trust of the highest order!
Its’ time to send the “Queen” and the “robbing hoods” to where they belong: the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinglupa.
The Aquino-Napoles connection
September 10, 2013 | Featured, Opinion
The following commentary by Mr. Paglinawan is in response to my article, “The ‘Queen’ and the ‘robbing hoods’,” which was published yesterday, September 9, 2013. — PERRY
By Ado Paglinawan
Heads up Netizens!
Two most recent developments, the case of Senator Ferdinand Marcos and that of Congressman Arnulfo Fuentebella have exposed where the real rat resides.
In the case of “Bong-Bong” Marcos, at least his one-half year-long pork barrel appropriation, or some P100 million was said to have been downloaded by the state-owned National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC), all of which ended up in the hands of bogus non-NGOs, using falsified documents. In the case of Congressman Fuentebella, his special allotment release order (SARO) involving P5 million of his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) which had expired December last year, the DBM still managed to release Fuentebella’s PDAF’s corresponding notice of cash allocation (NCA) in January this year, weeks after the expiration of the said SARO.
I have always said that all origin and destination of all corruption involving the pork resides in the Office of the President. Congress receives requests for pork and recommends where their pork allocation should go. Congressmen and Senators do not handle the actual distribution of monies.
This revelation is key to understanding why we have to go way beyond investigating Congress here. The Napoles discovery is just the tip of the iceberg.
Noynoy-pork-barrel-2014The presidential pork for Congress/Senate, or Priority Development Assistance Fund) of P25 billion (increased in 2013 as P27 billion) is only 1.7% or less than 2% of the total presidential pork estimated at P1.5 trillion if the Malampaya Natural Gas income is included.
Yes that is the total “discretionary fund” of the Philippine president.
When the president spends it directly, they are often packaged as “intelligence funds” just like the P30 million that was given to Comelec (the office of the president feeding a supposed independent constitutional body with funds it is not entitle to and in violation of the General Appropriations Act), or “calamity” funds that were earmarked for victims of Typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental where six million coconut trees were felled.
I just hosted some members of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals last week for the Megamall Coconut Exhibit and they told me that BS Aquino authorized P8bn for Davao Oriental but Roxas saved P1.9bn for his 2016 presidential campaign. The brothers came with carloads of “rosaries” made from coconut lumber to be sold for the Oriental Davawenos in Metro Manila.
So where is all this BS about Napoles going? Nowhere, already.
Mar Roxas’ calling Janet “m’am” was more than just Freudian slip. The “lady” as she is treated by both “Simeona and Marimar” was an old runner for them too when BS was congressman and senator and Roxas senator.
And what was she doing from 2010 to 2012 before the scam? Tell me with her insider Brian Raymund Yamsuan right in the inner sanctorum of Paquito Ochoa’s office as a close-in staffer of the executive secretary with a formal appointment and government salary.
If such desk was a repayment for P500 million contribution of Napoles to the Liberal Party-Akbayan for the 2010 elections, that was cheap.
You see Perry this is the same modus of repayment that has stick to BS Aquino. it is now coming out that even before he was proclaimed but Ambassador Thomas already visited him, the taipans deposited P10 biilion in BS Aquino’s account in a small bank in Quezon City as arranged by Ochoa and Speaker Belmonte.
The first year of BS was already marred by nagging questions, because it was then that 2,000 container vans got lost from the Bureau of Customs. On top of this, the International Monetary Fund reports that for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012, the discrepancy between other countries’ exports to the Philippines and actual import receipts by Customs has gone up to $19.6 billion annually compared to Erap’s and GMA’s $3.1 and $3.8 respectively.
Now back to the pork – do not be too harsh on the congressmen and senators. some of them could not have benefited without a conspiracy with the Palace when Malacanang still needed them, say for the impeachment of CJ Corona, the railroading of the Reproductive Health Bill and the buying of the 2013 elections.
Now that BS has an overwhelming majority in both houses of Congress, the move now is to marginalize potential opponents in 2016 of the Liberal Party-Akbayan coalition. BS no longer need the votes of your “robbing hoods”.
The executive branch allocates the pork to the implementing agency that will eventually release the congressional/senatorial pork to the final recipient designated by the respective solon. This is not an automatic process but one that is marked by government accountancy procedures, including the actual existence and legitimacy of potential recipients. Almost always, it is the implementing agencies controlled by the Office of the President, that serve the menu of acceptable recipients, suggesting that it has already done due diligence on them.
COA is in the picture because it seems the implementing agencies are no longer doing the required due diligence, thus the suspicion of conspiracy somewhere. This is also why this scam will just be dribbled to death because everything would just land at the toy president’s front yard. No successful prosecution towards the involvement of congressmen and senators will be reached without first passing through the incompetence or collusion of the executive branch.
The Napoles paradigm was developed by JocJoc Bolante and Mike Arroyo in 2004 to get under the radar of first Leony Montemayor and Cito Lorenzo as secretaries. GMA replaced Leony with Cito because she thought Cito would play along, he being her former student at the Ateneo.
What we did not know at first was Leony wanted out because he was forced by GMA to sign Memorandum Circular #5 that would give the agriculture undersecretary for finance, who was JocJoc Bolante at that time, almost the same authority as the Department Secretary in the sourcing, dispersal and release of funds.
When Cito felt something was wrong because our money inputs were less than our money outputs, he asked me to investigate and it 40 days down the road that we discovered MC#5. He immediately went to GMA to protest but was told bluntly that Mike was raising an war chest for the 2004 elections. Cito offered to resign sensing too much danger ahead. but he was prevailed upon to stay on condition that he will not be forced to sign anything against his will.
When he returned to the office, I brought up the idea of forming a “whistleblowers bureau” to protect his back. that will filter everything scheduled for his signature and when we sense something wrong we will immediately leak it to the press so that it disappears.
Marlene Esperat and I exposed Napoles as early as then. The fertilizer, the irrigation and hog-dispersal funds amounting that early to a total P10 billion became proto-types. we supplied both Jun Magsaysay as agri chair and Dick Gordon as blue-ribbon chair with enough evidence about Napoles and her runners.
We filed more than 20 cases with the Ombudsman, but as the cases began to prosper, they removed Simeon Marcelo and replaced him with Mercedita Gutierrez. Only one case made it to the court level -Sandiganbayan but it has not moved for two years.. Mike Arroyo also made sure Cito Lorenzo is also implicated in the Sandiganbayan case to hold his hands from testifying all the way to reveal verbal presidential instructions to him.
Cito is as eager however to see the trial move so that he can have his day in court. i may even testify because Marlene Esperat, as you know, is already dead. She was assassinated right in her own house eight months after the first fertilizer scam case was filed on July 2004 against Bolante, Arthur Yap etal regarding fertilizers released through the National Food Authority.
Why is the Sandiganbayan case not moving? And why now the Lorenzo family and corporations are being blackmailed to shell out for elections – P20 million in 2010 and P50 million in 2013 for the Liberal Party and Akbayan?
The answer is simple. BS Aquino, Butch Abad and Paquito Ochoa have taken over the Napoles syndicate.
The loot they have spirited out from the Congress pork, to build the 2016 election warchest, is peanuts compared to what they have already spirited away from the 98% of the total presidential pork.
As we speak, the Supreme Court has already TROed the PDAF and the Malampaya Fund.
Investigate the Office of the President and the Department of Budget Management! Don’t let the rats abandon ship. The only thing that will appease the people is if guilty parties are be put behind bars.
This is very interesting. I did wonder why Noynoy offered the princely sum of P10M for information on Janet Napoles’s whereabouts.
Is it really true that Noynoy’s Government already had Janet in custody long before Noynoy offered the reward? Was the reward a sort of publicity stunt to make Noynoy looks pro-active in seeking Janet and justice?!!!
It makes you think? Well sooner of later the comprehensive script being written will unfold to us. Just be a little patient.
I bet all the senators and congressmen and other officials implicated on the Pork Barrel Scandal will reveal en masse that they have no knowledge of it and that their signatures have been compromised and forged. Hahaha
“Napoles surrenders to P-Noy,” bannered the newspapers. That’s the best news in weeks of national anxiety. First, there was the extortion scandal that involved Ballsy Aquino-Cruz and Eldon Cruz, the President’s sister and brother-in-law, respectively. Then, there was the exposé on the massive smuggling at the Bureau of Customs. And then, the mother of all scandals: the pork barrel scam that implicated at least 12 senators and more than 180 congressmen to the pork barrel scam ran by Janet Lim-Napoles, a scandal that rocked the government to its foundations. Indeed, never in the past had a corruption scandal of this magnitude been exposed.
For two weeks after several former employees of Napoles blew the whistle on the pork barrel scam, Napoles was on the lam not because of the pork barrel scam that she ran but because of charges of “serious illegal detention” filed against her by whistleblower Benhur Luy. As the government’s key witness against Napoles on the pork barrel scam, Luy is now under the government’s witness protection program.
After the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) sent out trackers in a futile attempt to arrest Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim, Napoles suddenly appeared out of nowhere and surrendered to President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III. This led the people to wonder why she surrendered to P-Noy and not to the NBI, the Philippine National Police (PNP) or any other law enforcement agency?
Malacañang’s official version of the chronology of events last August 28 as reported by InterAksyon.com is as follows:
12:37 p.m. – After Aquino announced the P10 million bounty against Napoles, [presidential spokesman Edwin] Lacierda caught on television a statement from Kapunan that her client was willing to surrender. Lacierda called up Kapunan (with whose law firm he used to work, circa 1989-91) to verify the news. Kapunan told him of the threat to Napoles’ life and that her client was willing to surrender only to Aquino. When he asked why, Lacierda said Kapunan supposedly said that the President was the only person her client could trust. Lacierda reported the surrender feeler to Aquino, who replied: “This is just another lead.”
4:06 p.m. – Kapunan called up Lacierda to say that her client was willing to surrender but asked for assurances of security. Lacierda said he “got the sense” that Kapunan was not in direct contact with Napoles. Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II was ordered to make preparations to secure Napoles. Lacierda said he was told to go to the vicinity of Pasong Tamo to rendezvous with Kapunan.
6:50 p.m. – Lacierda, along with deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte and Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III left the Palace on a vehicle provided by Roxas and escorted by police. Kapunan, who was with Napoles’ brother Jimmy Lim, called up Lacierda to meet at the White Space gallery. Kapunan and Jimmy Lim boarded Lacierda’s vehicle and proceeded to Heritage Park.
9:08 p.m. – Two women approached Lacierda’s vehicle. One of them was Janet Napoles.
9:37 p.m. – The group arrived at the Palace. Napoles was immediately checked by a doctor and then met with Aquino, who was with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Presidential Communications Development Secretary Ramon Carandang, Roxas, and PNP Director General Alan Purisima. The group talked for 10 minutes, during which Napoles thanked Aquino for her security.
Lacierda said Aquino told his Cabinet officials, “Tutal puyat na tayo, damay-damay na (Since we’re all up late anyway, we might as well see this through),” and then left the Palace ahead of them to go to Camp Crame.
“The President wanted to make sure the area was secured so he went to check the premises” of the PNP headquarters, Lacierda said.
Napoles rode with Lacierda going to Camp Crame, with the other Cabinet officials joining the convoy.
Many questions, few answers
Do I believe Malacañang’s story? Maybe… if I get some answers to a lot of questions. But what I cannot fathom to believe is the participation of P-Noy in Napoles’ surrender? Why would the President of a country get personally involved in a matter of law enforcement? That’s tantamount to debasing the presidency.
Had P-Noy refused to be a party to Napoles’ surrender, do you think Napoles would continue to hide from the law? First of all, her reason for surrendering is she fears for her life. So, it would be unlikely for her to turn around and run. Napoles didn’t really have any other option than surrender.
Evidently, Napoles was in control and called the shots from the time she named the place to meet Lacierda – in a cemetery in the middle of the night — to the time she was escorted to the PNP headquarters, Camp Crame.
Questions that need answers are the following:
1. Why did Napoles insist that she surrender to P-Noy and nobody else? One might argue that P-Noy agreed to personally accept Napoles’ surrender because of what Napoles claimed: there is a threat to her life and she would surrender only to P-Noy, saying that P-Noy is the only person she could trust.
2. What made Napoles think that P-Noy was the only person she could trust? Had there been any past relationship between Napoles and P-Noy that she can entrust her life to him? If they had a relationship before – business or personal — what was it that P-Noy had done to earn her trust?
3. Why did P-Noy drive to Camp Crame alone and ahead of the convoy that brought Napoles to Camp Crame? Lacierda was reported to have said that as Napoles was about to be taken to Camp Crame, P-Noy decided to go with them. But he didn’t join the convoy; instead he went ahead of the convoy that included Napoles, Lacierda, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, Carandang, and Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras. Lacierda said that the reason P-Noy went ahead of the convoy was “to make sure that the place was secure so he went to inspect the premises himself.” But doesn’t P-Noy know that Camp Crame is the PNP’s national headquarters and is more secure than any place else?
It seems that for every question answered, more questions are raised. And this fueled a lot of speculation and conspiracy theories on Napoles’ mysterious “surrender.”
Abolish the pork
Conspiracy theories or not, the circumstances of Napoles’ surrender bring to the forefront of debate how Napoles was able to avoid scrutiny for 10 years spinning a web of corruption that involved senators and congressmen, and, who knows, members of the President’s official family. And who knows, Napoles might start singing like a canary.
Indeed, the mysterious Napoles “surrender” could be the game changer in the fight against institutionalized corruption. Let’s begin with the abolition of the pork barrel system including the P1.5-trillion presidential pork barrel. It breeds corruption and the people want to do away with it.
Mr. President, it’s time to listen to your “bosses,” the people.
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 1:39 p.m.) A US-based Filipino radio anchor reported that the government allegedly had custody of Janet Lim-Napoles hours before President Benigno Aquino III announced a P10-million bounty for her arrest.
Lino Celle, who works with RMN Radio Pinoy in New York, in a Facebook post with time stamp “Aug 28 2013 0200 Manila Time” quoted his “anonymous source” in the Department of Justice as saying, “Napoles is detained in [an] undisclosed location … approximately 200 kilometers north of Manila.”
Celle’s posts were first noted on by a site called “Coolbuster.”
Sought for comment on the report, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima sent a curt reply through text: “Not true at all.”
Celle said his source also told him that Napoles, who is accused of engineering the P10-billion pork barrel scam, had “offered to become a whistleblower for the state prosecutors.”
Aquino announced the reward for Napoles past 9 a.m. in Manila Wednesday.
The businesswoman, who was missing for two weeks after a warrant for her arrest was issued on illegal serious detention charges filed by pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, surrendered to Aquino 9:37 p.m. the same day.
She has since been transferred to the Makati City Jail after initially spending time at Philippine National Headquarters in Camp Crame, where she was taken after her surrender by Aquino and a number of trusted aides.
ABS-CBN North America’s Gel Santos Relos asked Celle, in a series of Facebook posts, about his source and the veracity of the information, noting that, “other unreliable sources become ‘kuryente’ (bum steer) sources.”
Celle declined to reveal his source, saying he could not “compromise the sources’ personal security” as he maintained that, “I believe the sources because they never missed in the past!”
“No kuryente, Napoles is in custody! Malalim ito (This is deep)!” he added.
Celle’s report is bound to raise questions about the circumstances surrounding Napoles’ “surrender”. Malacanang claims that until officials were contacted by Napoles’ counsel in the afternoon of Wednesday that they did not know where she was.
The revelations of widespread misuse of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund has triggered outrage and growing demands to scrap the pork barrel system, including discretionary funds granted to the President.
The anger over the perceived corruption has also fueled cynicism over Malacanang’s version of Napoles’ surrender, with many asking whether the whole event was “scripted” and whether she had cut a deal with the administration.