Instead of ending corruption, Noynoy Aquino encourages it

There is something about Filipino public servants and Philippine society in general that could make one lose faith in humanity. It could be the fact that a lot of public servants do not have any qualms about lying to and stealing from the Filipino public. Or it could be the fact that the majority of Filipino voters keep voting the same people into public office despite their mediocre performance and track record of abuse of power. Or it could also be because the majority of Filipinos lack interest or show apathy towards the problems that plague the nation. The Filipino people’s attitude in general make the idea of aiming for real change in the Philippines seem so hopeless.

Tama na, sobra na, palitan na!
Tama na, sobra na, palitan na!
Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino is an example of someone who obviously doesn’t have any qualms about fooling the public into believing he is for the greater good of the nation in the face of strong evidence that he is just doing things for his own personal gain and his political party’s advantage. The President has been accused by his critics of being a dictator for allegedly bribing the members of Congress into doing what he wants. But when you think about it, BS Aquino doesn’t have to be a dictator when he is dealing with willing participants.

The members of Congress who accepted BS Aquino’s “reward” money for convicting former Chief Justice Renato Corona for instance were more than willing to participate in the sham. Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s speech exposing the Chief Executive’s use of public funds to bribe the Senate may have helped uncover the truth about the length with which BS Aquino went to to persecute his enemies, but it doesn’t change the fact that senators like Estrada were more than happy to accept the money in exchange for his “guilty” vote.

Likewise, the general public who were gullible enough to believe the black propaganda against Corona pitched to them by the prosecution team with the help of some members of mainstream media prior to and during his impeachment trial, still think that rewarding the Senators was justified. In other words, BS Aquino doesn’t have to do much to “convince” the Filipino people to support his dirty deeds.

Why can't ex presidents and incumbents all just get along?
Why can’t ex presidents and incumbents all just get along?
Lately though, because of his own doing, there are more and more Filipinos who are starting to realize that BS Aquino would consistently blame former President Gloria Arroyo every time his own administration gets stuck between a rock and a hard place. He has even become a laughingstock in quite a number of online forums because of the lameness of his excuses. Some even say that he doesn’t act like a real man because he is not capable of being accountable for his own actions or inaction.

Even during his first year in office, some of his critics have already noted that it seems like he would keep blaming GMA until he steps down from office. Nevertheless, it is still quite outrageous to see that the prediction is coming true. It’s like BS Aquino’s predictability never ceases to amaze his critics. His use of the blame-game is simply a tactic to deflect blame away from himself. His loyal supporters – those who are still beholden to the Aquino name, unfortunately swallow every thing he says hook, line and sinker.

An instance wherein BS Aquino and his minions tried to fool the public was when they contradicted themselves in their response to the claim that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is illegal:

On Tuesday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte cited the Constitution’s Article VI, Section 25 (5) and the Administrative Code’s Chapter 5, Book VI, Sections 39 and 49 as legal bases of the DAP.

Malacañang has also said the DAP was abolished around the same time when Aquino scrapped the pork barrel of lawmakers.

“Tinanggalan ko yung kakayahan kong mamudmod [ng pera],” Aquino said on Wednesday.

In his statement, BS Aquino does come across like someone whose hands got caught in the cookie jar, who then immediately becomes defensive by saying “Okay, I’ve already put the cookie back!”.

A typical road in the Philippines presumably funded by pork (net of 'commissions')
A typical road in the Philippines presumably funded by pork (net of ‘commissions’)
First, Malacanang insists that DAP is legal even when the law they cited is very vague on the issue and is not specific about using it to “reward” lawmakers for convicting Supreme Court Justices. Even if one assumes the lawmakers used the funds appropriately, it still does not justify using the funds for projects that are merely “after thoughts”. They are after thoughts because the senators did not ask for the additional funds originally, they were asked to request for it. This is a claim supported by Senator Peter Cayetano:

“When we are told that we can request [projects] … we assume that it can only come from two sources—PDAF [the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel] or from savings. We did not know there was such a program as DAP,” Cayetano said.

The fact that the Senators didn’t know that there was such as thing as “Disbursement Acceleration Program” only means that it was not included in the 2011-2012 budget, which also means that its use was not approved by members of Congress.

Malacanang also claimed that they already abolished DAP together with the pork barrel of the lawmakers. But the truth is, the pork barrel of the lawmakers hasn’t been abolished. The lawmakers are still currently deliberating it. The Senate President, Franklin Drilon himself admits that abolition of the PDAF is “not easy after all”. Drilon cited that “only three (lawmakers) so far have written him of their desire to waive their PDAF.”

Our best guess is that two of those would be Senator Panfilo Lacson and Joker Arroyo, two senators who already do not avail of pork barrel funds anyway. This leads us to conclude that most of the senators still want their pork barrel funds. This just proves how thick faced Filipino lawmakers are. Despite its unconstitutionality and the calls by some sectors of the public for the pork’s abolition, the lawmakers still don’t want to give in.

Career options haven't improved much for Filipinos under the BS Aquino regime.
Career options haven’t improved much for Filipinos under the BS Aquino regime.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) also tried to justify DAP by saying that “millions of pesos from the DAP were released to lawmakers to ramp up government spending and help accelerate economic expansion”. Well, no wonder only a few members of the elite can feel the effects of this “economic growth”. Billions of funds used as government spending to “accelerate the economic expansion” could have included personal spending sprees for the members of Congress. In short, PDAF and DAP were most likely used for personal consumption by the lawmakers.

So while Government spending may have contributed to the much-talked about 7.1% economic growth rate and credit rating upgrade, the reason why it hardly makes a difference to the poorest members of society is because the government’s economic policy doesn’t include job creation. Despite all the money spent by government, many poor people still don’t have a steady source of income.

It seems BS Aquino’s government doesn’t realize that when people have jobs, they have more spending power and they won’t have to rely too much on government’s handouts. Unfortunately, the number of Filipinos who can understand that concept is so small it is enough to make one lose faith in the Filipino people in general.

[Photo of ‘tambays’ courtesy]