Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino has so far been very good at playing the “victim card” and the “blame-game” during his term. In fact, he comes from a long line of Aquinos who make it a point to emphasize that they are being persecuted. They do this to get public support. The victim-mentality could be genetic because his late father, Ninoy and late mother, Cory thrived on portraying themselves as the “victim” during their heydays in the public arena.
Playing the “victim” seems to work on the gullible crowd. Ninoy Aquino played the victim-card so well that he was even declared a national hero after his family and supporters successfully sold his death to the public as a catalyst for “change”. Ninoy’s wife Cory was then declared “democracy icon” after the first People Power revolution in 1986. Never mind that not much has changed since former President Ferdinand Marcos was ousted from Malacanang and that real democracy hasn’t been achieved since allegations of vote rigging and vote buying still plague every election held in the country.
Since BS Aquino’s own parents have always used appeal to emotion, it is only natural that BS Aquino would play the only game he and his family knows best in an effort to salvage his flagging popularity. He will keep trying to play the victim-card in a desperate attempt to justify continuing to give “development” funds to members of Congress even after promising to abolish that practice.
Allegations of corruption and bribery involving the priority assistance funds (PDAF) and the newly minted Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) has indeed affected BS Aquino’s popularity rating recently. This has obviously compelled him to make a televised speech to “explain” his side. Unfortunately, his speech has again made him look too self-righteous and like someone who harbors delusions of grandeur:
You are all witnesses to the conflict taking place. On the one hand, there is you and your government, to whom you gave the mandate for change—a government that has implemented reform for the past three years and five months, pursuing the corrupt and working to alleviate poverty. On the other side, you have the corrupt officials allegedly involved in the Pork Barrel Scam.
One cannot help but wonder what reforms the President was talking about. It can’t be the removal of former Chief Justice Renato Corona because the latter’s removal is ironically proving to be BS Aquino’s undoing. While the President and his minions called Corona’s ouster a “success” in the fight versus corruption, it turns out he may have bought Corona’s conviction using the taxpayer’s money. Some legal experts agree that giving “reward” money to the senators who voted “guilty” can be considered bribery.
To be precise, BS Aquino was an accessory to the “corrupt officials” he mentioned in his speech. If not for his generosity to the members of Congress, they would not have had the opportunity to siphon the taxpayer’s funds into their personal bank accounts.
While BS Aquino insists that he is not a thief, he gave money to alleged thieves. And since he is reluctant to abolish the pork barrel funds and the DAP and its various incarnations, he will continue to give money to future thieves.
While BS Aquino insists that he is the one who goes after thieves, a lot of people have noticed that the only thieves he goes after are from the political opposition. Aside from that, his appointed people in the Commission on Audit are not prepared to release audit reports on the use of pork from 2010-2013. They could be hiding something.
The harder BS Aquino tried to distance himself from the “thieves”, the more he comes across as a defensive loser.
Constitutional experts have agreed that there is no law that says the disbursement acceleration program is legal. Dean of the Graduate School of Law at San Beda College, Ranhilio Aquino even said that BS Aquino committed worse crimes than Corona when he released DAP funds after Corona was ousted. However, BS Aquino who doesn’t even have a law degree would have people believe that it is legal. He tried to sound noble when he said in his speech that DAP is from savings from his administration’s “efforts to stop the connivance of some in bidding for contracts, in padding costs, overpricing, and kickbacks”. Furthermore, he said, “they came from the proper spending of our budget. They came from good governance…[yada-yada-yada]”.
BS Aquino did manage to “save” during his first year in office when he refused to proceed with some projects initiated by the previous government seemingly out of spite. Nevertheless, he didn’t have the right to use those funds to reward some of the senator-judges during Corona’s impeachment trial.
Tinapay na nga, naging bato pa.
As usual, like most of his speeches in the past, BS Aquino’s speech justifying the existence of DAP was long on rhetoric but short on details. All of a sudden, DAP is now responsible for a lot of “good” things. It is quite suspect considering even lawmakers have not heard of it before Senator Jinggoy Estrada insinuated that the President bribed the senators in his privilege speech.
According to BS Aquino, the list of DAP beneficiaries include scholars, the Air Force, the police, and employees of the Department of Education. In addition, DAP funded “many other programs and projects that have a real, tangible benefit to Filipinos”. Well, obviously the Presidential speech writer thought no one would be interested to know what these “other programs” and “projects” specifically were considering they supposedly benefit Filipinos. They must have thought the sentence was good enough to end it that way. Oh well, we can understand because BS Aquino’s speechwriters don’t have much to work with.
Sometimes it’s too corny to ask the obvious: why can’t the government just increase the budget for the departments that needs more funds? Since BS Aquino and some members of Congress keep justifying the existence of PDAF and DAP using the “scholars” for example, then why can’t they just increase the budget of the department of education? The same goes for the other departments that claim to benefit from the DAP, like calamity or contingency funds for the rescue and relief operations in the wake of typhoons and other natural and man-made disasters. They can just allocate more funds for those needs in the yearly budget they propose to Congress. That way, the expense will be legal and they will not have to defend it after spending it.
Here’s the thing: ordinary Filipinos who are not knowledgeable about the law will think that as long as the funds go to where BS Aquino says these went to, it’s all okay. But how will Filipinos know the funds really went to the beneficiaries he enumerated? The auditors cannot even answer that question. Do Filipinos just take the President’s word for it? Only morons would do that.
Furthermore, the way BS Aquino spent his administration’s “savings” didn’t seem to have gone through an approval process. Apparently, BS Aquino thought he had the power to disburse the savings without consulting the law and the members of Congress. Sadly, the members of Congress weren’t even bothered to check where their “reward” money came from because they were more than happy to receive it.
BS Aquino does not have the sole authority to spend public funds. In a fully functioning government, members of Congress are by law mandated to scrutinize every item in the proposed budget before the executive can allocate it. If they notice something amiss, they have to raise the issue and object to it. To quote Dean Ranhilio Aquino:
Discretion is exercised within the bounds of an enabling law,” “What enabling law was passed to authorize this disbursement? For Malacanang to allocate funds to members of Congress, or to whistleblowers, there has to be a law allowing that. Where is that law?
Well, BS Aquino has painted himself into a corner once again. That’s what happens when he acts like he is above the law and above the other branches of government. He’ll probably keep playing the victim-card until he steps down from office and beyond. That is the one thing he is good at.
[Collage of gulty-vote senators courtesy Balita.ph.]
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