President Aquino’s address was quite lengthy but it felt lacking. If his goal was to make things more confusing, he definitely succeeded. He could have made his statements more sensible and convincing if he answered the following questions:
Why was the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP kept secret if the program indeed has good intentions? Even administration’s allies didn’t know they were already receiving DAP.
What prevented the government from immediately releasing an accounting of DAP-funded projects? Did they really have to wait for Monday’s speech before they can provide an accounting of DAP? Is it really difficult to account for projects that were supposedly done legally and with good intentions?
Where did the money allocated to senators and congressmen go? The President could have made good use of his televised address by discussing the pork-like amounts appropriated to senators and congressmen. Why show a “sanitized list” that intentionally hides the pork?
How does the giving of DAP money to senators and congressmen accelerate government spending? Doesn’t it actually decelerate it since the funds still have to pass through the congressman’s or senator’s discretion?
Is the assigning of DAP money to senators and congressmen a la Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) justified in the Administrative Code sections the administration has been citing? Without necessarily saying that it’s okay to ignore laws on government spending, we believe people are not really against DAP when the President simply moved funds from cancelled or slow moving projects. We believe what is angering critics and the ordinary Filipinos is the fact that President Aquino allowed senators and congressmen to have access to DAP money, probably being groomed as a substitute to PDAF, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last year. Add to this the fact that it was secretly and silently implemented. If an embattled senator didn’t mention it, the public wouldn’t have learned about it.
The President said that DAP was not stolen but how can he be sure when PDAF scam witness Luy said that Napoles also got DAP monies? How can he be so sure with this assertion? “Mabuti ang DAP. Tama ang intensyon. Tama ang pamamaraan. Tama ang resulta.” Was it a good result that three of the senators to whom he DAP funds were given are now being prosecuted for stealing from their PDAF allocations? Is the President too naive to not know what many politicians are doing to take a cut from their fund allocations?
DAP, as the President claims, benefited the economy but wouldn’t the same benefits be achieved if they followed the national budget? DAP does not add more money to the national budget. It simply reassigns available funds, as the President puts it, to other projects that can supposedly make better use of the idle funds. Again, we really think people are not concerned about reassigning funds especially if the projects they were allotted for got cancelled or suspended under force majeure causes. The reliance on DAP appears to indicate the government’s lack of good planning and delegation skills, since they have to continuously juggle allocations from projects found to be unable to use their allocated funds within the year.
Most importantly, if the reason DAP was conceptualized was to address underspending in the first years of the Aquino government, does this mean underspending continues to happen? Does this mean the President failed to address problems he encountered in his first years in office? President Aquino already has virtual full control over Congress so what prevents his administration from coming up with a budget that works with his plans? He successfully had the SC Chief Justice impeached and appointed allies to many key posts so there’s hardly a reason for him to not trust the government system that is already in place, unless he has other intentions in mind.
Yellow Politics, Cowardly and Treacherous Politics
With DAP, President Aquino seems to be espousing his own brand of yellow politics. He seems to cower against his own allies in Congress that he needs DAP (the pork-like portion allocated to congressmen and senators) to maintain their loyalty. With PDAF declared unconstitutional, DAP appears to be groomed as the successor. Why can’t the President face his own allies with all temerity and sincerity and call for genuine reform? His government seems to be carrying on the evils of traditional politics but with preference to those who show allegiance to the yellow propaganda. Arroyo played traditional and transactional politics, as she needed to ensure support even from people who disliked her. President Aquino should veer away from doing the same practice.
Yellow politics is seeking refuge in people’s trust but doing the opposite of what the Filipino people really want. People want greater transparency in the government but President Aquino silently implemented DAP and even refused to push for the FOI Bill. After getting bugged by the FOI issue, the President then said that FOI would be passed in 2016. Why? To make sure it no longer covers his administration’s acts? The Aquino administration brags popular support but does not really make great use of this popular support to ensure that everyone, his allies included, does not do the same misconducts committed in the past.
To wear yellow would mean agreeing to the President’s controversial actions. It’s true that not everything the administration has done regarding DAP is bad. In fact, only a few acts of the Aquino administration can be considered controversial. The good, however, cannot be used to conceal nor justify the bad. Nothing good will come out of a bad practice, out of not doing something to weed off a bad practice.
Enough of the senseless symbols and rhetoric! We should just start fresh with the Aquino government admitting lapses in judgment or at least exerting some humility to accept the Supreme Court ruling and change the way things are done. The Aquino government, again, already has control of both houses of Congress. He can do almost anything legally with the cooperation of his allies, unless these allies have only been cooperating in the past because of the fund allocations they used to get through PDAF and DAP.
“These are my colors” via GoMandino. Infographic via Bulatlat. Photo via Facebook.com/PresidentNoy Some rights reserved.
Bernadine (Dine) Racoma is a writer, researcher, and multi-awarded blogger. You can find Bernadine Racoma at Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter. She is an advocate and co-founder of BlogWatch.
Profile as of March 9, 2017.