Per R.A. 10121: PNoy may be criminally liable for veto of disaster preparedness budget in 2011

Noted constitutionalist and former president of the Ateneo de Manila University Fr Joaquin Bernas lauded the Supreme Court decision to ban pork which, he wrote, “restores the normal constitutional order of handling public money”. He cited the specific clause in the Constitution that clearly defines the limits of the power of any one government official to control public funds; “No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law,” a stipulation that “prevents members of Congress, and the President, from indiscriminately spending unappropriated money.”

The landmark Supreme Court ruling comes at an interesting time, when the ability of the government to rapidly respond to crisis situations — such as the pressing need to manage the relief and rebuilding operations following the devastation wrought by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) — is under the spotlight…

Does [the President] have the resources needed to deal with the effects of the October earthquake in Bohol and now also with the ravages caused by Supertyphoon “Yolanda?” At the rate the President is reassuring the survivors of the ravages caused by nature, he probably is confident that he has the resources. If needed, he can call Congress to a special session to appropriate what more is required.

The Philippines' almost complete reliance on foreign aid in times of crisis is starting to wear thin.
The Philippines’ almost complete reliance on foreign aid in times of crisis is starting to wear thin.
Unfortunately for Filipinos, President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III is not exactly the sort of guy one could rely on to prioritise disaster preparedness. Back in May, 2011 President BS Aquino’s message following his veto of the 2011 budget then reportedly included the following statement pointed out by Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino:

“I caution the inclusion of pre-disaster activities such as preparation of relocation sites/facilities, and training of personnel engaged in direct disaster in the use of the Calamity Fund. While said purpose is laudable, the same must be weighed against the imperious need of maintaining sufficient provision under the Calamity Fund for actual calamities and prevent its full utilization for pre-disaster activities…”

The rationale behind President BS Aquino’s reluctance, it seems, was that “pre-disaster activities are embedded in the services of various agencies like the DPWH, DSWD, and DND.” Unfortunately, the quality and speed with which the government had responded to the massive destruction wrought by Typhoon Yolanda has proven that this delegated and woefully fragmented approach to managing “pre-disaster activities” is a failure.

That the government had failed to implement an effective disaster preparedness framework — something that is mission-critical in a disaster-prone country like the Philippines — is possibly criminal in nature. According to Section 22 of Republic Act 10121, also known as the “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010” currently in effect, a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRM Fund) which encompasses the Calamity Fund in the national budget…

…shall be used for disaster risk reduction or mitigation, prevention and preparedness activities such as, but not limited to, training of personnel, procurement of equipment, and capital expenditures. It can also be utilized for relief, recovery, reconstruction and other work or services in connection with natural or human-induced calamities which may occur during the budget year or those that occurred in the past two (2) years from the budget year.

Grounds for impeachment? President BS Aquino
Criminal negligence? President BS Aquino
Note the items emphasized in bold print above. Manila Times columnist Ben Kritz pointed out in his December, 2011 blog post It’s a Fine Line Between Foolish and Criminal that President BS Aquino’s veto of the 2011 budget on grounds that disaster preparedness should not be funded from the Calamity Fund could make him criminally liable for fatal delays in the government’s response to the crisis in the Visayas following Yolanda’s visit. Section 20 of RA 10121 stipulates the following penalties for persons found to be in violation of this law:

Any individual, corporation, partnership, association, or other juridical entity that commits any of the prohibited acts provided for in Section 19 of this Act shall be prosecuted and upon conviction shall suffer a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (Php 50,000.00) or any amount not to exceed Five hundred thousand pesos (Php 500,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one (1) day or more than twelve (12) years, or both, at the discretion of the court, including perpetual disqualification from public office if the offender is a public officer, and confiscation or forfeiture in favor of the government of the objects and the instrumentalities used in committing any of herein prohibIted acts.

Initial observations coming from CNN reporter Anderson Cooper reporting from the ground in flattened Tacloban City in the first few days following the departure of Yolanda confirmed the sad state of the Philippine government’s level of disaster preparedness when he found “no real evidence of organized recovery or relief” there.

From Cooper’s vantage point, there were hundreds of people sleeping at the airport because there was nowhere for them to go and if one would just walk three blocks away from the airport, there were also people sleeping in makeshift huts or out exposed to rains even lying next to the bodies of their loved ones because these had yet to be picked up. He said there was also very little water and food supply because there was no feeding station, which according to him, was what one would expect after five days. The journalist added that he only heard of talks about the airport being opened again by the US marines but it hadn’t happened yet. He warned that the situation is getting desperate and that sooner or later something is bound to give.

For some time, the tragic posterboy of the Philippine Government response to the crisis was Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas who, instead of stepping up to the occasion, busied himself with making schoolboy excuses for the state’s flaccid performance…

At one point during the interview [with another CNN reporter Andrew Stevens], Roxas was arguing over the treatment of dead bodies left rotting on the roads. Stevens pointed out that every day, he sees the same decomposing bodies when he passes by the same road on the way to the city. But Roxas vehemently denied they were the same bodies, stopping short of calling Stevens a liar.

Get him out of there! screams columnist Conrado de Quiros. “Frankly, I don’t know what Mar Roxas is doing in Tacloban. He isn’t helping, he is hindering. He is an abrasive, polarizing, divisive presence. He does not unite, he foments rifts. He does not inspire, he breeds enmity. Without him, Tacloban will be back on its feet in no time at all,” the elderly columnist adds.

Recent events are but a small recurring cross-section of Philippine history. Just about every single lesson that should have been learned following every instance of horrendous death numbers from the multitude of “natural” disasters that hit every year gets filed in Philippine society’s Mamaya Na folder. So with regard to Fr Bernas’s recommendation that the government, “devise something constitutional to fill the vacuum left by the Supreme Court’s decision declaring pork barrel unconstitutional,” we can only take the usual next step recommended by Filipinos’ kapamilyas in the monolithic ABS-CBN Network:

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata


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70 Comments on "Per R.A. 10121: PNoy may be criminally liable for veto of disaster preparedness budget in 2011"

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Sea Bee

Thank goodness there is one branch of the govt. (Supreme Court) that is not raiding the Treasury for personal gain. How does the world see what is going on in the Philippines? See article in Yahoo Finance titled “Philippine Corruption Magnifies Effects of Typhoon.”


you might want to check what happened in 2012. I wanted to post that 2011 article on my fb page but was reluctant… I think budget was allocated for disaster preparedness for 2012. Don’t know the “disaster fund” status for 2013.


i am very happy that pork is declared unconstitutional. we must thank pnoy for that because he is against pork. without Him, this glorious moment would never happen.


thank pnoy daw! huwat?!! wag kang magbibiro ng ganyan!


And Aquino broke his promise to stay in Tacloban once he heard the SC decision. It may mean he values his pork money more than human lives.


PNoy is criminally liable – SO WHAT NOW? Will the Filipinos do something about it?


he is immune to all convictions so you do not need to worry.


he will attend a special meeting to read the court’s decision. he could return to tacloban anytime after it is held.

Johnny Derp

Looks like “kathniel” is really that desperate to convince us that his president is against pork barrel.
Nice try, troll but everyone already knows that he isn’t against pork barrel. So tell us, why should we believe you when all you every do here is post stupid propaganda?
The evidence against your president is already unimpeachable yet you insist otherwise.
What the F**k is wrong with you?


@ kathniel
Either you are dumb, getting paid to defend this asshole, or you are sucking his dick! Even I from halfway around the world can see that this scumbag is corrupted. Get your head outof his ass! Stop being such an ignorant ass kissing brown nose, you idiot. You want attention, well you got mine. You fucken moron cocksucker!

Lord Chimera

Really, this troll is not even trying hard to be convincing in his arguments. Then again he can’t convince us sane-thinking folks to the “merit” of his words. Somebody get a troll-slayer and rid us of this idiot!

Fonz Apostol

FOCAP back in October 2012

“Another example of righting the wrongs is building up our capabilities: When once our people were at the mercy of natural calamities, now we have proven our capacity to foresee and respond appropriately at times of disaster. Our weather bureau, once the butt of jokes, is now earning accolades in its trailblazing use of the internet to disseminate information. It is saving lives by getting timely and accurate forecasts to our people. Now, our weather bureau, PAGASA, is living up to its name: it is finally engendering hope.”


Jose Bigote Estrada
Half million pesos fine, is just a drop in the bucket. If these thieves steal millions of pesos. They profited from their thievery. Imprisonment is light. It is just a slap on the arms. Mr. Aquino maybe clueless again on the law. The task of being a President, is too much for him. So, he should resign. Before, he is stressed, too much. Mar Roxas is stressed also. It is good, he has his wife, Corina Sanchez Roxas, to solace him at the end of the day. And to defend him, from ubiquitous bloggers. The Failure of Leadership of these… Read more »

let kathniel be. that troll is just giving us avenues to show the impertinence BSAquino. maybe he was not really the ass-licking idiot we think he is, but just reflecting the minds of the true dumbass supporters of our wretched president so that in case they come across this blog, they can argue no more. well, i’m just giving this as a fourth option to proud american ii’s. hehe.

Ms. Muffin

She is probably one of the sisters of BS.

Thomas Jefferson
Johnny Derp

Two years later, there’s still no rebuttal coming from that idiot named “Kathniel”

Looks like his yellow zombie kin have gave up on defending their boss if they still can’t think up of any rebuttal till now for this article.