‘Good faith’ was the farthest from the mind of BS Aquino when he came up with the #DAP!

On one hand, Aquino apologists like to distract public opinion away from the “legalese” surrounding the debate around the manner with which the President used the DAP in order to highlight the nebulous notion of ‘good faith’. But then there is another camp (albeit the more intellectually-diligent amongst them) that invoke aspects of the law and rulings of Philippine Supreme Court (SC) justices to prop up Malacanang’s case. A favourite aspect of this line of ‘debate’ is that whilst the DAP had been ruled “unconstitutional”, the question of possible criminal liability traceable to Malacanang in the way it used the DAP was not in the scope of said ruling.

President BS Aquino's desperation to harvest savings for the DAP may have cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

President BS Aquino’s desperation to harvest savings for the DAP may have cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo’s opinion that “the DAP significantly contributed to economic growth and achieved its purpose during the limited time it was put in place” is the go-to citation in this instance. Justice del Castillo notes that the SC ruling makes no judgement on the criminality of the use of the President’s execution of the DAP specifically around the “discontinuance of slow-moving projects” and the transfer of “savings” from this discontinuance to “fast-moving projects in order to spur economic growth.” He also asserts that the President “validly exercised his power to permanently stop expenditure under Section 38 in relation to NBC 541, absent sufficient proof to the contrary.”

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Perhaps, to the letter of the law the President had, indeed, exercised legal authority to cancel key government projects and harvest these savings. Many observers agree, however, that this halting of projects, many of which were started under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was done under questionable motives and was undertaken more out of spite than aything else. Furthermore, it has been shown that President BS Aquino had applied a flawed understanding of the government’s fiscal position in 2010 as basis for the order to cancel those projects — a decision that resulted in the crash in economic growth rates reported in 2011 after more than 7 percent annual growth reported in the previous year.

By and in that, President BS Aquino’s good faith is already debatable. But did this astounding act of incomptence and ignorance result in a crime?

Indeed, there is reason to believe that the Aquino government may, in actual fact, be criminally liable for an aspect of that mass cancellation of government projects that impacted the Philippines’ ability to quickly and effectively respond to disasters wrought by natural calamities. 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 last year had 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.

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.

On-the-ground observations coming from CNN reporter Anderson Cooper 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.

Why had Aquino been so desperate to harvest “savings” from the Philippines’ national budget, even to the extent putting the lives of millions of Filipinos at risk??.

And that is the REAL billion-dollar question.

Suffice to say the debate over the motives behind the creation of the DAP should no longer be around whether it was about “good faith” or not. It is increasingly coming to light that outcomes of the government’s mismanagement of the Philippines’ coffers is approaching the criminal. Indeed, to President BS Aquino’s inyent to pursue his appeal to have the SC ruling on the unconstitutionality of the DAP overturned, we should respond: Bring it on! Further detail around the motives behind the shadowy world of DAP “accounting” are likely to surface once this next can of worms is opened.

[Photo courtesy CollegeMagazine.com.]

12 Replies to “‘Good faith’ was the farthest from the mind of BS Aquino when he came up with the #DAP!”

  1. And according to his Intro to SONA 2016 speech, the people (under the previous and now his administation) assigned with those budget do not know what to do with it (and it goes on for years) no wonder they just pocketed it. Also, I believe the P50M is indeed a cash gift because for what purpose are you going to give said amount for something that is not asked of you unless they have presented an intelligent (not just a fast solution) development plan but even that has to undergo some assessment before being approved. Not knowing what to do with all those entire amounts, that can easily be squandered if they don’t put it into real “savings”. And knowing that those who work in the government was placed there due to people’s good faith in what they say “they are made of”, and these officers’ minions are given certain government jobs because of “connection” and to fulfill a “promise” as a reward for their support, how the heck would they come up with something of use to and needed by this nation? Every month there’s about or more than a hundred billion peso collection from taxes. Does the government have a project management for that?

    I’m beginning to understand what you meant by “working the system hard”.

    1. Exactly. You do not need Senators and Congressmen in the planning loop if you are re-appropriating “budget savings” to other projects. The framework for doing that will presumably already have been developed as part of a strategic development plan that any Executive team worth its salt would have handy at all times.

  2. Another well reasoned post benign0!

    I find it interesting that Justice Castillo also seems to be an economist.

  3. the debate rages on…and that is the problem with the filippines. Its always all talk and no action. Criminal liability: YES OR NO? that should be discerned and then acted on.

    BUT NO, it will just be one big media whore-a-thon and circle jerk after whore-a-thon after circle-jerk and not one thing will get accomplished or prosecuted or improved. PATHETIC.

    1. Spot on, hit the nail on the head.
      All blah blah blah blah, no action.
      World’s biggest talk shop.
      Proud to talk a lot and achieve nothing.

      1. @YAWN…..sad but true,eh? The thing is that when the people perpetrating these arrogant acts of thievery just get away with it over and over again…and nothing is ever done about it…what is there to act as a deterrent?
        What follows?:
        The absence of a deterrent creates a void that only gets filled with arrogance and impunity to keep doing exactly the same thing over and over again.
        The criminal justice system is undoubtedly a bad joke that only needs to look at the Maguindanao Massacre for proof of the bad joke.Five + years later and still no trial of the accussed and the accussed are probably no longer in custody, and if they are they can probably come and go as they please.
        SOLUTION?: There is little hope for any change in the for-see-able future and so….

        THE VIRTUAL VIGILANTE has some really good idea’s that are long overdue for implemantation.

        1. No deterrent whatsoever, open season steal all you can whenever you want. Go for it, want to steal a million dollars that is okay, want to steal twenty million dollars that is okay too. Get caught, no legal system, no law or order. Just laugh, cry and crack a few jokes and all is forgiven. Let your kids take over and on with the stealing.
          No one tries to implement a system or tries to stop those from stealing. Just blah blah blah blah blah.
          The criminal system is designed to represent the criminals and make sure they can carry on stealing at all cost.

          No country has ever become prosperous without spending billions if not trillions on education, infrastructure and industry this place fails on all three fronts.
          Add on two to three million births a year, no one would have a clue what the real population is the census is a complete joke. Then being at the forefront of global warming without a clue or any plan to do anything about it. Put all of the above in the bowl give it a stir and you have a country that is nearly beyond repair.

        2. @ YAWN, Bro, you are too kind to say ‘nearly beyond repair’. The place is just as fucked as fucked can be and anyone who lives there and is not part of the top 5% best GTFOH.

          it really has to be seen to be believed, u kno? what is going on that country is literally un-fuckin-believable.

        3. Yes i was being polite, i agree with you it is totally fucked. Only country on the planet that does not consider electricity a priority.
          South Korean tourist have started to decline got fed up with being robbed and cheated. Old habits die hard in the Philippines.

  4. The act of Aquino stopping the financing of the Disaster Relief Fund is criminal already.
    People suffered because of this; and Aquino pandered for international financial relief.
    Aquino wants to undo the projects funded by GMA. Instead of continuing them…it is Politics of Destruction. And, demonizing political enemies. He is good on that…and he uses public funds to do it.

    There is an evil Ulterior Motives, on what he claimed as the “savings”. And the transfer of such “savings” Funds. Where did he spend such “savings”? We want the lists of projects; and the tangible proofs of completed projects. We want good Accountants and Auditors to Audit the expenses. Show the flow of the Funds; where they go.

    I will not be surprised, if he had used these “savings” to impeach SC Chief Justice Corona. And , destroy and demonize his political enemies. Most portion may had gone to his foreign Bank Accounts, also. Aquino and Abad conspired on this massive Thievery of Public Funds.

    1. @H.T. yes, and all the money that was donated from the International community was stolen too!! All the medicines and food and other supplies were sold to the highest bidder.
      its just a fuckin disgrace and they do it all with a straight face! the fuckin nerve of these bald-faced liars.

      they really are liars…and to think someone tried to pin that label on me, HERE, in a comment recently…HA!!!

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