REMOVING BARRIERS, BRIDGING GAPS FOR DEAF PEOPLE 

This is a story of love, hope, courage and sheer determination: the life of Ana Arce, a woman who relentlessly pursued her dreams despite being born deaf. She is the first Filipino to be awarded the World Deaf Leadership Scholarship at the Gallaudet University in Washington, where she completed her master’s degree last May. She is back in the country to share with the deaf community what she has learned. She wants to teach and help them become empowered individuals. “I was born Deaf. When my parents discovered this, like most hearing parents of Deaf children, they felt that the only way for me to survive was if I learned to speak, and so they enrolled me in different oral schools where I had to wear hearing aids and learn how to lip read. I tried my best in these schools but still it wasn’t easy for me to adjust,” 27-year-old Arce told The STAR.

Eventually, her parents thought of moving her to another school for the Deaf where sign language is used as the medium of instruction. “I quickly adjusted and started doing well in my academics,” she said. But still, life wasn’t easy for her both in school and at home. Arce recalls struggling to find her place in college. She went to a school that mainstreamed Deaf and hearing students. “In this format, teachers would be speaking, alongside an interpreter for the Deaf. But the classroom atmosphere for me was quite difficult, not because most of my classmates were hearing, but because we didn’t know how to communicate with each other, and there was some sort of discrimination. My hearing classmates would opt not to include me in class projects and activities even though I want to participate. I felt stuck and disappointed,” she said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Nuns panic over ‘hostage takers’  

The two bedraggled men limped into the orphanage in Legazpi City lugging a sack of firearms. What were the nuns in charge supposed to do? They panicked, locked themselves in and called the police, triggering rumors of a hostage incident. But the “hostage takers” – a soldier and a militiamen needing shelter and food from Typhoon Glenda – were as surprised as the nuns and also locked themselves in a room when a horde of heavily armed police arrive to “rescue” the nuns and their wards. On seeing Pfc. Ariel Licayan and Ronel del Castillo, a member of the Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA), enter the compound of the Good Shepherd Home in Barangay San Roque, Calubaquib carrying a sack with their firearms inside at around 3 p.m., the nuns locked themselves in and called the police. Text messages about an ongoing “hostage situation” soon made the rounds in the community. Surprised by the sudden arrival of fully armed policemen, Licayan and Del Castillo panicked and hid in a room in a building next to the one where the nuns had sought refuge. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Surviving cancer #28storiesofgiving 

While most teens today can be found tapping away on their mobile devices, planning what to take up in college or getting into their first relationship, 20-year-old Rudy Labata spent his teenage years dealing with cancer. It has been seven years since Rudy was diagnosed with Stage 1 Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), but the young man still clearly recalls that fateful day. “They suspected anemia at first,” Rudy says, as it took a while for him to get a proper diagnosis. The process took several tests and a long, agonizing wait. When it was finally determined that he was suffering from ALL, Rudy’s mother was crestfallen, taking the news of her son’s critical situation hard. Rudy, on the other hand, put up a brave front but kept wondering how he could have cancer at age 13. He was only in high school then, full of hopes and dreams.

“I was told that treatment will take two years,” he recalls. Concerned that the treatment would diminish his family’s meager finances, he also thought of the impact on his schooling. “I thought to myself, it’s just two years,” he says. Just then, a Kythe volunteer approached him and his mom at the charity ward of the UST Hospital and changed their lives forever. Kythe Foundation Inc., which provides a whole range of support services to indigent children suffering from life-threatening illnesses and their family, started out as a school project at the Ateneo de Manila University, said executive director Maria Fatima Garcia-Lorenzo. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Dreams live on for ‘little teacher’ #28StoriesofGiving 

Yolanda. The name alone brings countless tales of devastation that have been told and retold. When it hit – the world’s strongest typhoon to make landfall – it left death and disaster in its wake in wide swaths of central Philippines. Ten-year-old Beverlyn Estonio, who like many others in the Visayas describes the typhoon as her worst nightmare, lost her home to Yolanda. “I really thought it was the end of the world,” she recalls. Heeding advice from disaster coordinators, she and her family had evacuated to her grandmother’s place for fear that their little house by the seashore would be washed out. This was two days before the super storm. When Yolanda struck, true to their apprehension, their humble abode that had just been newly refurbished a year before was ravaged along with other sturdier structures that had no chance against Yolanda’s howling winds and torrential rains. “I cried, thinking of our home that my parents had worked hard for,” she reminisced. Her father, Berwin, works as a fisherman. He used to have a boat and net but lost them when super typhoon Yolanda battered the Visayas region seven months ago. Nowadays, he borrows a fishing boat and equipment from his brother and his friends to earn a living. Ferline, her mother, is a housewife. She sells cell phone load to augment the family income. Beverlyn has a 14-year-old stepbrother, Alfred, and an eight-year-old younger sister named Babyline. From the meager income they had, the couple managed to save for a minor renovation to make their home a bit more comfortable. Life for the family was getting better. And then, Yolanda battered the Visayas. * READ MORE...

FROM MANILA STANDARD

(ALSO) History in making: New impeachment bid 

FOUR Supreme Court petitioners and 21 other people including bishops, priests and nuns will be filing an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III today, saying they want it recorded in history, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. announced over radio dzBB on Sunday. He made the announcement even as court employees nationwide will stage a “silent protest” today by wearing red and black clothes to express their indignation over President Benigno Aquino III’s alleged bullying and disrespect for the Supreme Court. “We wanted it recorded in history that the President who professed Tuwid na Daan, transparency and accountability in governance was the first to renege on his promises,” said Reyes but admitted that the complainants were facing an “uphill battle” in getting the complaint past the President’s allies in the House. “On Monday, July 21, we will be filing an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust in the matter of the Disbursement Acceleration Program,” Reyes said. Jojo Guerrero, president of the Supreme Court Employees’ Association, said employees at the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, the Sandiganbayan and all the trial courts had agreed to wear red or black today to protest against Aquino’s attacks against the judiciary. “This silent protest will signify our indignation to President Aquino and his administration’s total disrespect for the dignity and independence of the Judiciary,” Guerrero said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘PNoy OKd P150b for own funds’ 

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III approved the pooling of P150.6 billion in “savings” from the national budget to the Disbursement Acceleration Program to augment his own discretionary funds, Palace documents signed by the President and submitted to the Supreme Court show. The documents showed that in 2011 alone, the President impounded P72.11 billion from the General Appropriations Act and diverted these amounts to fund various pork barrel projects of President Aquino, congressmen, senators and local officials. The Palace also renamed what Commission on Audit chairman Grace Pulido-Tan described as the “kahindik-hindik” VILP or “various infrastructure local projects” to “various other local projects” or VOLP in documents submitted to the Supreme Court as well as its sanitized list of 116 DAP projects. In the previous administration, the VILP was used for purely hard projects such as infrastructure. Under Aquino administration’s VOLP, the infrastructure projects such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation and bridges were lumped with mangrove reforestation, mangrove farming, multi-species hatchery and aqua-silviculture among others, which the petitioners against the DAP claimed could not be easily accounted for unless subjected to a strict audit.

Since the DAP was approved by the President merely five months into his term on Nov. 25, 2010, not one of the P150.6-billion worth of DAP projects had been accounted for and subjected to an audit by COA. In a memorandum to the President, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, in seeking the President’s approval, said the Department of Budget and Management found savings from the completed or discontinued projects that may be pooled “to provide for new activities which have not been anticipated during the preparation of the budget, to augment additional requirements of ongoing priority projects.” “[The pooled savings were] to provide for deficiencies under the Special Purpose Funds, e.g., PDAF, Calamity Fund, Contingency Fund,” the DBM memo approved and signed by the President on Oct. 12, 2011. Based on the documents obtained by the Manila Standard, the single biggest beneficiary of the DAP was the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, headed by Gov. Mujib Hataman, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, with a P8.592 billion in allocation. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Removing barriers, bridging gaps for deaf people #28storiesofgiving


The first Filipino to be awarded the World Deaf Leadership Scholarship to study at Gallaudet in 2012, Ana Arce plans to teach deaf undergraduate students as her way of ‘giving back.’

MANILA, JULY 21, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Iris Gonzales -  MANILA, Philippines - This is a story of love, hope, courage and sheer determination: the life of Ana Arce, a woman who relentlessly pursued her dreams despite being born deaf.

She is the first Filipino to be awarded the World Deaf Leadership Scholarship at the Gallaudet University in Washington, where she completed her master’s degree last May. She is back in the country to share with the deaf community what she has learned. She wants to teach and help them become empowered individuals.

“I was born Deaf. When my parents discovered this, like most hearing parents of Deaf children, they felt that the only way for me to survive was if I learned to speak, and so they enrolled me in different oral schools where I had to wear hearing aids and learn how to lip read. I tried my best in these schools but still it wasn’t easy for me to adjust,” 27-year-old Arce told The STAR.

Eventually, her parents thought of moving her to another school for the Deaf where sign language is used as the medium of instruction.

“I quickly adjusted and started doing well in my academics,” she said.

But still, life wasn’t easy for her both in school and at home. Arce recalls struggling to find her place in college. She went to a school that mainstreamed Deaf and hearing students.

“In this format, teachers would be speaking, alongside an interpreter for the Deaf. But the classroom atmosphere for me was quite difficult, not because most of my classmates were hearing, but because we didn’t know how to communicate with each other, and there was some sort of discrimination. My hearing classmates would opt not to include me in class projects and activities even though I want to participate. I felt stuck and disappointed,” she said.

* At home, during her younger years, she felt out of place when family members spoke to each other.

“My family members spoke with each other, and as a Deaf person, I could not understand what they usually talk about so I often have to ask them about it. I then hoped that they could sign whenever I was present. But over time, some of my family members learned some Filipino sign language. Yet, outside of those experiences, I am still happy to belong to a very loving family,” Arce says.

Arce would later move to the De La Salle University’s College of St. Benilde School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies.

“At St. Benilde, which I call a second home, not only did I find an academic institution, but I also found an environment where teachers and other members of the community welcomed us. I felt loved and cared for and I felt that the school was like a family. I learned the true meaning of a Deaf person and that the word Deaf is spelled with a capital D which means that I am not only a Deaf person but I am someone who is part of the Deaf community, partaking in its unique language and culture,” Arce says.

After graduation, Arce worked as a graphic artist with hearing colleagues for almost three years. It was during this time that she realized she wanted to pursue a master’s degree.

“I realized the Filipino Deaf community’s need to improve their lives and empower them, which led me to pursue a master’s degree. It had always been my dream to study at Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C., an academic institution known for its prestige as an institution committed toward excellence in Deaf education. It is also the first and only Deaf University in the world where I experienced a truly signing environment,” Arce says.

In 2012, her dream came true.

“I am the first Filipino to be awarded the World Deaf Leadership Scholarship to study at Gallaudet in 2012. I completed a master’s degree in Deaf Studies: Cultural Studies in May 2014,” Arce says.

Still fresh from completing her degree, Arce is already planning to “give back” by teaching Deaf undergraduate students in Benilde this year.

More than teaching, she hopes to help society become aware of the needs of the Deaf community.

“I hope to not only help them go through college, but also make them good researchers, and active advocates in their respective communities. In my advocacy, I’m looking at opportunities to bring the needs of the Deaf into the consciousness of society, especially the hearing people. I aim to help integrate the Deaf and the hearing together in unity, bridge the communication gap, increase awareness of the Deaf culture, and raise the respect for the natural sign language of the Filipino Deaf - the Filipino Sign Language,” she says.

To put it simply, she says, she wants to tell the world that Deaf people can do just about anything that hearing people can.

“I want to let the world know that the Deaf people can do anything, except hear,” Arce says.

(Editor’s Note: The Philippine STAR’s #28StoriesOfGiving is a campaign that turns the spotlight on 28 inspiring stories of people and organizations who devote their lives to helping themselves or others. Everyone is encouraged to post or “tweet” a message of support with the hashtag, #28StoriesOfGiving. For every post, P5.00 will be added to The STAR’s existing ‘give back’ anniversary fund. For comments and suggestions to #28storiesofgiving, email contactus@philstar.com.ph follow @philippinestar on Twitter or visit The Philippine Star’s page on Facebook.)

Nuns panic over ‘hostage takers’ By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 18, 2014 - 1:00am 1 460 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The two bedraggled men limped into the orphanage in Legazpi City lugging a sack of firearms. What were the nuns in charge supposed to do?

They panicked, locked themselves in and called the police, triggering rumors of a hostage incident.

But the “hostage takers” – a soldier and a militiamen needing shelter and food from Typhoon Glenda – were as surprised as the nuns and also locked themselves in a room when a horde of heavily armed police arrive to “rescue” the nuns and their wards.

On seeing Pfc. Ariel Licayan and Ronel del Castillo, a member of the Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA), enter the compound of the Good Shepherd Home in Barangay San Roque, Calubaquib carrying a sack with their firearms inside at around 3 p.m., the nuns locked themselves in and called the police.

Text messages about an ongoing “hostage situation” soon made the rounds in the community.

Surprised by the sudden arrival of fully armed policemen, Licayan and Del Castillo panicked and hid in a room in a building next to the one where the nuns had sought refuge.

* Superintendent Alex Pederio, Legazpi City police chief, said his men were responding to a call from a certain Sr. Celine Cajanding that the sisters were being held by the two men.

The incident came to a peaceful conclusion two hours later when the policemen brought in somebody who personally knew Licayan to convince him to come out and “surrender.”

Licayan and Del Castillo explained they were not holding anyone hostage but were just seeking shelter and food.

Pederio said the two indeed looked haggard and hungry and even “traumatized,” after walking for hours to Legazpi City from Sitio Inang Maharang, Barangay Nagotpot, Manito town after their outpost was washed away by flashfloods.

He said there was nothing to indicate that the two men had indeed tried to take the nuns hostage. The only case the nuns can lodge against the two – if they decide to file one – is trespassing, Pederio added.

Surviving cancer #28storiesofgiving By Abby Rebong (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2014 - 12:00am 4 132 googleplus2 1


Diagnosed with cancer at age 13, Rudy Labata says Kythe Foundation gave him support when he needed it most. GEREMY PINTOLO

MANILA, Philippines - While most teens today can be found tapping away on their mobile devices, planning what to take up in college or getting into their first relationship, 20-year-old Rudy Labata spent his teenage years dealing with cancer.

It has been seven years since Rudy was diagnosed with Stage 1 Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), but the young man still clearly recalls that fateful day.

“They suspected anemia at first,” Rudy says, as it took a while for him to get a proper diagnosis. The process took several tests and a long, agonizing wait. When it was finally determined that he was suffering from ALL, Rudy’s mother was crestfallen, taking the news of her son’s critical situation hard.

Rudy, on the other hand, put up a brave front but kept wondering how he could have cancer at age 13.

He was only in high school then, full of hopes and dreams.

“I was told that treatment will take two years,” he recalls. Concerned that the treatment would diminish his family’s meager finances, he also thought of the impact on his schooling.

“I thought to myself, it’s just two years,” he says.

Just then, a Kythe volunteer approached him and his mom at the charity ward of the UST Hospital and changed their lives forever.

Kythe Foundation Inc., which provides a whole range of support services to indigent children suffering from life-threatening illnesses and their family, started out as a school project at the Ateneo de Manila University, said executive director Maria Fatima Garcia-Lorenzo.

* To date, the foundation has provided much-needed psychosocial support to over 8,000 children with cancer and other chronic illnesses and their families since 1992, and helped increase the patients’ chances of survival – from 40 to 60 percent – simply by making hospitals a happier place.

Although he suffered a great deal, what Rudy remembers most from his bout with cancer were summer camps that allowed him to play and mingle with other children also suffering from critical illnesses. During this time, volunteers generously spent their time with them and their families in hopes of seeing them get better and eventually, cancer-free.

He cannot thank enough the individuals and organizations that helped his family shoulder the costs of his treatment. Rudy’s father, a tricycle driver, was the sole provider of their family of four, and understandably had a hard time making ends meet.

He said, “There were times when the doctors themselves had to loan us money for medicine, or when we had to ‘borrow’ medicine from a fellow cancer patient.” According to Rudy, this was a common practice among the patients – a simple act of generosity that bound them closer together.

The positive experiences tend to drown out the suffering he endured.

“I would throw up so often it came to a point when I would eat just to make the throwing up a bit more bearable than if I did on an empty stomach,” he says.

On a lighter note, during his two-year treatment at the hospital, Rudy was everyone’s kuya, being the eldest in a group where patients were as young as four years old.

With an illness like cancer, Rudy admits, a positive attitude is not enough, one also needs a good support system. This is why Kythe proved to be a source of strength to him, while his fellow patients provided inspiration as he saw them trying to be strong for their own sake in spite of their suffering. He’s thankful that his friends and teachers were also very supportive and helped him graduate from high school on time.

Declared cancer-free in 2010, Rudy has become a dedicated volunteer as well as an employee of Kythe Foundation. After finishing high school, he took a two-year vocational course on a Kythe scholarship, and now works as an administrative assistant at the Kythe office in Quezon City.

These days, he devotes time helping young patients and their parents cope with cancer, assuring them that it need not be the “death sentence” it is feared to be.

“I give talks especially to parents of newly diagnosed patients. They have to stay strong for their children,” he says.

Rudy hastens to add that at one time he also received help from The STAR’s advocacy arm, Operation Damayan, among a long list of donors that helped him get through the ordeal.

Currently, Rudy is hoping to continue his studies, eyeing a four-year course to enable him to support his parents and younger sibling. He admits that even though it’s been years since he underwent treatment for cancer, the family still has debts to settle that he would like to shoulder, if only to repay his parents for their efforts.

If there is one thing he has learned from all this, Rudy says it is appreciating life and everyday blessings. His story, indeed, is one of survival.

To support Kythe Foundation, contact info@kythe.org., 0918-9072094 or visit www.kythe.org.

(Editor’s Note: The Philippine STAR’s #28StoriesOfGiving is a campaign that turns the spotlight on 28 inspiring stories of people and organizations who devote their lives to helping themselves or others. Everyone is encouraged to post or tweet a message of support with the hashtag, #28StoriesOfGiving. For every post, P5.00 will be added to The STAR’s existing ‘give back’ anniversary fund. For comments and suggestions to #28storiesofgiving, email contactus@philstar.com.ph. follow @philippinestar on Twitter or visit The Philippine STAR’s page on Facebook.)

Dreams live on for ‘little teacher’ #28StoriesofGiving By Grace Melanie Lacamiento (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 14, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Beverlyn Estonio (center) inspires her classmates at Legaspi Elementary School to do well in school and to pursue their dreams. KRISTINE CAMPANA

MANILA, Philippines - Yolanda. The name alone brings countless tales of devastation that have been told and retold. When it hit – the world’s strongest typhoon to make landfall – it left death and disaster in its wake in wide swaths of central Philippines.

Ten-year-old Beverlyn Estonio, who like many others in the Visayas describes the typhoon as her worst nightmare, lost her home to Yolanda.

“I really thought it was the end of the world,” she recalls.

Heeding advice from disaster coordinators, she and her family had evacuated to her grandmother’s place for fear that their little house by the seashore would be washed out. This was two days before the super storm.

When Yolanda struck, true to their apprehension, their humble abode that had just been newly refurbished a year before was ravaged along with other sturdier structures that had no chance against Yolanda’s howling winds and torrential rains.

“I cried, thinking of our home that my parents had worked hard for,” she reminisced.

Her father, Berwin, works as a fisherman. He used to have a boat and net but lost them when super typhoon Yolanda battered the Visayas region seven months ago. Nowadays, he borrows a fishing boat and equipment from his brother and his friends to earn a living.

Ferline, her mother, is a housewife. She sells cell phone load to augment the family income. Beverlyn has a 14-year-old stepbrother, Alfred, and an eight-year-old younger sister named Babyline.

From the meager income they had, the couple managed to save for a minor renovation to make their home a bit more comfortable. Life for the family was getting better.

And then, Yolanda battered the Visayas.

* For days, all the family could do was scavenge for food being carried away by the floods.

Beverlyn was old enough to understand that her family had indeed lost everything.

“I had forgotten how to smile,” she says.

But her mother’s words provided a balm of relief: “You are more important to me than material possessions,” she told her children. Beverlyn then uttered a prayer and thanked Divine Providence that her family was safe.

Days after the typhoon, she went back to school to check on their classrooms. She had one memento from her pre-Yolanda days: her school uniform, which she managed to save during the height of the unforgiving storm.

Together with friends, Beverlyn volunteered to clean the school, or whatever was left of it.

These days she is back as a consistent honor student of Legaspi Elementary School in Marabut, Samar - a school chosen by The Philippine STAR as a beneficiary of its adopt-a-school program and rebuilt in time for the new school year to help students pick up the pieces of their lives disrupted by Yolanda’s fury.

Beverlyn isn’t letting the opportunity go to waste.

Often called the “little teacher” - sweet and loved by all - she has been described as too small for her age and too young for her wisdom. Like most students her age, she dreams of becoming a teacher someday.

“I want to handle Grade 3,” she says.

While she is an achiever in school, she makes sure that her classmates are not left behind. When she accomplishes her tasks, she goes to classmates who have difficulty reading, and diligently teaches them. Beverlyn’s former class adviser and current English teacher Averyll Marie Caubalejo attests to her leadership skills.

“She leads the class but is not the bossy type. Her classmates follow her. Yes, she is small and strict but she earns their respect,” she said.

“She’s also very inquisitive and is willing to learn. She follows instructions and always volunteers. She is quite an achiever,” Caubalejo added.

Despite the family’s circumstances, Beverlyn hopes to continue being able to study and to graduate as class valedictorian. She is hoping to study at Osmeña National High School after graduation and to eventually pursue college in Tacloban City as a scholar.

She also encourages her own classmates to graduate with flying colors and to achieve their goals in life.

“Education is important for kids like me,” she continues.

Her teacher, Averyll, foresees her top student becoming a professional in the future.

“Maybe she could be one of us. I am willing to be her mentor,” she said.

With her consistently outstanding academic performance in class, her parents are confident that Beverlyn will deliver the valedictory address when she graduates. They also assure their daughter of their unconditional love and support in making her aspirations a reality despite their financial challenges.

Meanwhile, since the family is still temporarily staying with their grandmother, Beverlyn prays that their house will soon be repaired. They have yet to receive any donation or housing materials from the government.

She admits that she still feels fear whenever it rains, but Beverlyn continues to be strong with her family and remains determined to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher someday.

For the “little teacher” with big dreams, a better future awaits, one day at a time.

(Editor’s Note: The Philippine STAR’s #28StoriesOfGiving is a campaign that turns the spotlight on 28 inspiring stories of people and organizations who devote their lives to helping themselves or others. Everyone is encouraged to post or “tweet” a message of support with the hashtag, #28StoriesOfGiving. For every post, P5.00 will be added to The STAR’s existing ‘give back’ anniversary fund. For comments and suggestions to #28storiesofgiving, email contactus@philstar.com.ph follow @philippinestar on Twitter or visit The Philippine Star’s page on Facebook.)

FROM MANILA STABDARD

History in making: New impeachment bid By Christine F. Herrera | Jul. 21, 2014 at 12:01am


Protest. Members of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government present red and black ribbons in a press conference in Quezon City on Sunday as they prepare to join judiciary employees in protesting against President Benigno Aquino III’s alleged assault on the Supreme Court. MANNY PALMERO

FOUR Supreme Court petitioners and 21 other people including bishops, priests and nuns will be filing an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III today, saying they want it recorded in history, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. announced over radio dzBB on Sunday.

He made the announcement even as court employees nationwide will stage a “silent protest” today by wearing red and black clothes to express their indignation over President Benigno Aquino III’s alleged bullying and disrespect for the Supreme Court.

“We wanted it recorded in history that the President who professed Tuwid na Daan, transparency and accountability in governance was the first to renege on his promises,” said Reyes but admitted that the complainants were facing an “uphill battle” in getting the complaint past the President’s allies in the House.

“On Monday, July 21, we will be filing an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust in the matter of the Disbursement Acceleration Program,” Reyes said.

Jojo Guerrero, president of the Supreme Court Employees’ Association, said employees at the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, the Sandiganbayan and all the trial courts had agreed to wear red or black today to protest against Aquino’s attacks against the judiciary.

“This silent protest will signify our indignation to President Aquino and his administration’s total disrespect for the dignity and independence of the Judiciary,” Guerrero said.

* He made his statement even as Malacañang said the filing of an impeachment complaint against Aquino would be premature.

“If the prospective impeachment complaint will be based on the DAP decision, then it could be premature and unwarranted considering that the decision is still under reconsideration before the Supreme Court. We believe the President acted well within the limits of his authority,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

“Freedom of expression is part of our democracy for as long s it is done in a peaceful manner and within the confines of the law.”

Reyes said more than 25 people had signed the impeachment complaint against Aquino as of Wednesday last week.

“Many signed on after Aquino’s July 14 speech that defended the DAP and threatened the Supreme Court,” Reyes said.

“Four of the complainants are involved in recent petitions before the Supreme Court assailing the DAP. Other complainants include religious leaders, artists, netizens, workers, farmers and members of the academe. All have been involved in the campaign to abolish the pork barrel system.”

Reyes said the impeachment complaint is set to be endorsed by members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, particularly Bayan Muna, the Gabriela Women’s Party and Anakpawis.

“We will present evidence that Aquino knowingly and willfully violated the Constitution through his acts of approving and implementing the DAP,” Reyes said.

“We will dispute his claims of good faith in the implementation of the DAP. We will prove that from the outset, Aquino had sought to control billions in public funds and treat the same as presidential pork. We will show that the DAP is no different from the PDAF in the sense that both pertain to discretionary lump-sum spending. The President’s July 14 speech has now been incorporated into the complaint as additional evidence.”

“The impeachment is no laughing matter. There is nothing funny in the unconstitutional disbursement of P144.4 billion for various questionable projects including extra pork for lawmakers.”

Reyes also slammed Akbayan for blocking the impeachment move.

“Yellow cheerleader Akbayan wants to trivialize the proceedings, thus adding its voice to the chorus of Aquino allies in the Lower House who vow to stand in the way of truth and accountability,” Reyes said.

“Akbayan, whose leaders occupy varoius positions in the Aquino government, took nearly four days before actually saying anything about the President’s DAP speech. They have shamelessly jumped on the ‘good faith’ bandwagon of Aquino apologists.”

Reyes called on the public to support all efforts to make Aquino accountable.

“The people are the aggrieved parties in the DAP issue. It was their money that ended up in corruption,” Reyes said.

“There can be no good faith in tyrannical abuse of power. We call on the people to be vigilant and to demand a full accounting of the DAP and the accountability of those involved in its implementation.” With Rey E. Requejo and Joyce Pangco Pañares

Solons got 80% of DAP; SAROs telltale signs of pork barrel misuse

SENATORS and congressmen received some 857 of the 1,016 SAROs or special allotment release orders for P150.6 billion in pork barrel projects funded under the Disbursement Acceleration Program, Palace documents show. “Eight in 10 SAROs were pork for lawmakers,” said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan...

‘PNoy OKd P150b for own funds’ By Christine F. Herrera | Jul. 21, 2014 at 12:01am

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III approved the pooling of P150.6 billion in “savings” from the national budget to the Disbursement Acceleration Program to augment his own discretionary funds, Palace documents signed by the President and submitted to the Supreme Court show.

The documents showed that in 2011 alone, the President impounded P72.11 billion from the General Appropriations Act and diverted these amounts to fund various pork barrel projects of President Aquino, congressmen, senators and local officials.

The Palace also renamed what Commission on Audit chairman Grace Pulido-Tan described as the “kahindik-hindik” VILP or “various infrastructure local projects” to “various other local projects” or VOLP in documents submitted to the Supreme Court as well as its sanitized list of 116 DAP projects.

In the previous administration, the VILP was used for purely hard projects such as infrastructure.

Under Aquino administration’s VOLP, the infrastructure projects such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation and bridges were lumped with mangrove reforestation, mangrove farming, multi-species hatchery and aqua-silviculture among others, which the petitioners against the DAP claimed could not be easily accounted for unless subjected to a strict audit.

Since the DAP was approved by the President merely five months into his term on Nov. 25, 2010, not one of the P150.6-billion worth of DAP projects had been accounted for and subjected to an audit by COA.

In a memorandum to the President, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, in seeking the President’s approval, said the Department of Budget and Management found savings from the completed or discontinued projects that may be pooled “to provide for new activities which have not been anticipated during the preparation of the budget, to augment additional requirements of ongoing priority projects.”

“[The pooled savings were] to provide for deficiencies under the Special Purpose Funds, e.g., PDAF, Calamity Fund, Contingency Fund,” the DBM memo approved and signed by the President on Oct. 12, 2011.

Based on the documents obtained by the Manila Standard, the single biggest beneficiary of the DAP was the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, headed by Gov. Mujib Hataman, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, with a P8.592 billion in allocation.

* The former rebels belonging to the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, Moro National Liberation Front and Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army were also granted P1.819 billion under the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process, purportedly for livelihood projects of the rebel-stronghold communities.

President Aquino also appropriated P2 billion for his home province Tarlac, the biggest DAP allocation for any province.

President Aquino also bypassed Vice President Jejomar Binay and granted P11.05 billion to National Housing Authority, whose general manager was appointed by him and reports directly to him.

While Binay sits as NHA chairman, the NHA general manager portfolio was placed under the Office of the President.

Most projects under the description VOLP were undertaken by the President’s party mates and trusted lieutenants Interior and Local Governments Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, both members of the LP, and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson.

Alcala’s department as granted P1.629 billion for irrigation, farm-to-market roads, and integrated community-based multi-species hatchery and acqusilviculture farming.

Instead of letting Binay handle he resettlement and housing projects for some 30,000 squatters, the President assigned the task—and the budget—to Roxas, Singson and Soliman.

Singson’s DPWH was granted P5.5 billion in VILP for quick-disbursing priority projects such as roads, bridges, and flood control projects which were supposed to be implemented by the district offices nationwide.

Some P6.5 billion was released for “PDAF augmentation” under VOLP as requested by congressmen, senators and local executives.

Another P6.5 billion was released under LGU Support Fund to buffer the P13.6 billion cut in the local government units’ share in their Internal Revenue Allotment to allow them to implement their projects.

The President assigned Roxas and Abad to jointly issue the guidelines and prescribed the menu for projects worth P6.5 billion for LGUs.

The petitioner against the DAP, including former national treasurer and Social Watch Philippines convener Leonor Magtolis Briones, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, led by its secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. and the Philippine Constitution Association headed by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand

Martin Romualdez–-demanded that the DAP-funded projects be subjected to an audit, the details of which must be made public.

“We demand that the details of the DAP-funded projects be made public because these were released by President Aquino without having undergone congressional and subsequently public scrutiny,” Briones told the Manila Standard.

“We want the President to account for these funds which he released under his discretionary powers without the approval of Congress that the Supreme Court found unconstitutional,” she said.

“The President insists that the funds went to the poor. What is his proof when not one project had been subjected to audit? The list released by the Palace was pure generalization. It did not have any details as to who and how much received the funds and where these funds went. What made him say the projects were graft-free?” Briones said.

“If indeed the DAP went to good use, what’s stopping the President from making public the details of these multi-billion-peso projects,” Briones said.

Reyes said as early as Feb. 17 this year, COA’s Tan had rejected their request to have the DAP projects audited, and told Bayan simply to wait for the COA’s regular audit.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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