JV EJERCITO TO DELIVER 'KONTRA-SONA'  

PHOTO: Senate website file photo shows Senators Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada and JV Ejercito, with their father, former President and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada. senate.gov.ph - Senator JV Ejercito is expected to counter today the penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III. "In a democracy, the role of the opposition as fiscalizer in gov't is essential," Ejercito, a member of the Senate minority, said in his Twitter account on Monday morning. Believing that a "responsible" opposition is constructive, Ejercito said a "Kontra-SONA" will not be a criticism of or an attack on the President. "The opposition needs to tell the President the real score, of what really is the situation. We cannot rely on his men to tell the real story," Ejercito tweeted. * READ MORE...

ALSO: JV Ejercito scores Palace for defending DAP despite SC ruling  

Minority Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito on Monday scored Malacañang for opposing the Supreme Court decision on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which the high court has ruled unconstitutional. “Sa kontrobersiya ng DAP, obligasyon nating sundin ang kapasyahan ng Korte Supreme na nagsasabing illegal ito. Sa pagdeklarang unconstitutional and PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel fund), tumalima ang mga congressman at senador, bakit pagdating sa DAP nagmaktol ang Malacanang?” Ejercito said in his privilege speech.

In the speech – delivered in Filipino and entitled “Ang Makatotohanang State of the Nation ng mga Pilipino” – the senator said he does not question the good intentions behind the DAP. He said the issue is that the process that fund disbursements went through violated the Constitution. “Sana humingi na lang ng supplemental budget sa Kongreso ang Malacañang katulad ng naayon sa batas,” he said. 'Probe other suspicious NGOs too' He also said he is one with the government in addressing corruption as shown by his signing the blue ribbon committee report recommending the filing of charges against fellow senators, including his brother Senator Jinggoy Estrada. He said the government should continue investigating the 71 bogus non-governmental organizations mentioned in the special audit report of the Commission on Audit aside from those linked to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

“Inaasahan nating hindi magtatapos sa pag-aresto at pagpapakulong sa tatlo nating kasamahan ang laban sa katiwalian at korapsyon upang hindi isipin na ito ay may bahid pulitika. Umaasa ang buong bansa sa pag-iral ng hustisya. Nawa’y hindi maging balakid ang usapin ng pagiging kapartido, kaalyado, kaibigan at kamag-anak sa nararapat na mainbestigahan ng anumang uri at anyo ng katiwalian,” he said. He added the public also wants to know what happened to the Malampaya fund as well as the truth behind alleged irregularites in Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
‘No trickle down effect’ In the speech, Ejercito also cited that the country’s economic growth didn't trickle down to the people. He also mentioned unemployment, high prices of basic commodities, poverty, rice importation and smuggling. He also hit the government for lack of concrete plans for the poor people aside from the implementation of Conditional Cash Transfer. He also mentioned the government's alleged failure to resolve the power crisis. “Kataka-takang hindi binanggit ng Pangulo sa kanyang SONA ang planong harapin ang krisis na nagbabanta sa ekonomiya at sa ating kabuhayan. Hindi kaya ang mga ulat na nakarating kay Pangulong Aquino ay salat sa katotohanan, kulang, o minadyik para gumanda? Hindi kaya ipinapaabot na lamang n gating mga kalihim ang katotohanan kapag malala na ang problema,” Ejercito said.*CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: JV speech not ‘contra-Sona’ but counter Aquino’s claims 

It was a personal privilege speech of opposition Sen. JV Ejercito in which he provided a reality check on the claims of President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last July 28, and not a contra-Sona as far as members of the Senate minority are concerned. Ejercito proceeded with what he billed as his counter-state of the nation address (Sona) speech without any “blessings” from his colleagues in the minority bloc. Ejercito said the real state of ordinary Filipinos belie most of the President’s claims during his SONA. He cited high prices of commodities, including rice, fuel and electricity and the lack of job opportunities for the people as proof that the nation is still far from achieving what Aquino claimed as inclusive growth.

“These are the real situation or our nation. Many do not have opportunities, no clear source of livelihood, no discernible future for a good life,” he said. Ejercito said the country continues to lag behind its Asean neighbors in terms of the quality of infrastructure, particularly in the transport industry, which has resulted in stunting growth.He also noted the Philippines has been receiving the lowest volume of foreign direct investments in the region. “It is his privilege speech. We don’t want the minority to grab credit where credit is not due. It is his privilege speech, it is his contra-Sona, not necessarily (that of) the minority,” said “acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III said. Sotto, however, was quick in emphasizing that the minority bloc stood supportive of Ejercito. “All members of the minority will always support a fellow member. (But) that’s a perspective of a member of the Senate, you have to respect the perspective. There are some very good points that I think he brought up,” he said. * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: DOJ, judiciary had highest OBA in 2013 

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) and the judiciary got the lion’s share of the P100-billion off-budget account (OBA) funds in 2013, government records show. The OBA–which does not require Congressional approval–reached P100 billion at the end of 2013 or almost double the 2012 budget of P52 billion, based on the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing for the Fiscal Year of 2015, a copy of which was released last week during the House budget briefing of the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) on the proposed P2.606-trillion budget for 2015. The DOJ got a heftier share of the OBA–P60 billion–from a miniscule P172 million at the end of 2012. The judiciary, on the other hand, got P9 billion or P1 billion higher than its 2012 off-budget account of P8 billion. The Justice department’s P60 billion OBA was sourced from one percent of the net income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), one percent of the proceeds, sales and other sale of property and rental income. The judiciary got its OBA from legal fees, court fees, fiduciary fund, bail bonds, legal research, trust receipts and miscellaneous income. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Workers hit Aquino’s king-size pork in 2015 budget 

As the House of Representatives starts deliberations on the proposed 2015 national budget, workers and urban poor led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno marched to Mendiola this morning to condemn Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s insistence on amassing king-size pork funds yet again. Former National Treasurer Leonor Briones revealed that P1 trillion in the proposed P2.6 trillion national budget is composed of lump-sum allocations which are the chief executive’s pork barrel funds while government agencies known as conduits for legislators’ pork would receive bigger funds for 2015.

“There has not been a satisfactory accounting of the DAP yet Aquino is already pushing for another set of king-size pork funds. Does he think that his tears in his SONA already washed away his sins over the DAP?” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, referring to the Disbursement Acceleration Program. The labor leader said the Aquino government continues to refuse to give details on where the DAP funds came from and where these were spent, saying the said funds must be audited and those responsible for its creation made accountable. “It appears that the 2015 national budget is a budget for Aquino’s political survival and impunity from plunder charges. He wants to evade accountability over the DAP and other corruption cases during the remaining years of his term and even after his term ends in 2016,” Labog stated. * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Palace mum on ‘pork-full’ budget   

Malacañang distanced itself yesterday from allegations that pork barrel funds still form a huge chunk of the Aquino administration’s national budget. Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office neither confirmed nor denied claims that P20.7 billion of the 2014 budget were realigned for at least six agencies, including the Department of Health and the Commission on Higher Education. “It is no longer covered by the executive, that is a proceeding of the House,” he said during a press briefing. Coloma was referring to the supposed audio recordings of an executive session of the House of Representatives during which concerned officials were discussing scholarships and medical assistance funds with lawmakers. The audio recordings formed part of the fourth impeachment complaint filed by Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio. Coloma was also coy on proposals for the government to conduct an investigation of executive officials who were quoted in the audio recordings. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: DBM, DPWH in limbo on P6-B savings   

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are in a quandary over the use of at least P6 billion in savings the latter has generated. Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson told the House appropriations committee chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab yesterday that he had requested the DBM for authority to use his agency’s savings. However, he said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad is still weighing whether to approve or reject his request in the light of the recent Supreme Court decision striking down the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional. He noted that in its ruling, the SC would want the government to declare and use savings only toward the end of the year. Singson said savings would be useless if made available to agencies only in November or December. “These funds have to be used in a timely manner. As it is, we start realizing savings as early as January when we begin awarding contracts. These savings are generated from the bidding process, which usually result in contract costs that are lower than project appropriations,” he said. He said savings are also realized when projects are abandoned. * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO Philstar Opinion: Noy better drop Mar, Abad, other LP jinxes  

PANATAG MISTAKE: An American friend who was with the US Marines has what looks like a straightforward answer to the question of how to slay the Chinese dragon nibbling at the fringes of Philippine maritime territory. Visiting him over the weekend in his house in a wooded area in New Jersey, we got to talk about adobo, shooting wild turkey with a crossbow, taking down North Korean squaddies with his sniper rifle, US military bases, and Chinese communist aggression. He said it was a mistake for us to have abandoned Panatag (Scarborough) shoal off Zambales, when poachers escorted by Chinese government vessels grabbed it in 2012 and drove away Filipinos from their traditional fishing ground. * * * FIGHT FOR IT: But what could we do in the face of superior force? Besides, from Malacañang came the order of the Commander-in-Chief for all Filipino vessels to pull out to avoid the storm blowing in the vicinity of Panatag.

The Marine scoffed at this use of the weather as excuse for running away from a clear act of aggression. Repeating what we all know, he said that one will lose all that he has which he is not ready to defend. Filipinos should have fought back, he said, with their coast guard or navy rushing to the rescue. With our naval vessels that even Moro kumpits can outrun?, I asked. With whatever you have, he said. * * * ONLY OPTION: There is a reason for standing up to the neighborhood bully, even if it may look like madness to President Noynoy Aquino and his yellow advisers. Asserting sovereign rights is not misplaced braggadocio. To my no-nonsense Marine friend, it is the only option. It is duty. MORE, CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

JV Ejercito to deliver 'Kontra-SONA'


Senate website file photo shows Senators Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada and JV Ejercito, with their father, former President and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada. senate.gov.ph

MANILA, AUGUST 18, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani - Senator JV Ejercito is expected to counter today the penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III.

"In a democracy, the role of the opposition as fiscalizer in gov't is essential," Ejercito, a member of the Senate minority, said in his Twitter account on Monday morning.

Believing that a "responsible" opposition is constructive, Ejercito said a "Kontra-SONA" will not be a criticism of or an attack on the President.

"The opposition needs to tell the President the real score, of what really is the situation. We cannot rely on his men to tell the real story," Ejercito tweeted.

* In his fifth SONA delivered two weeks ago, Aquino explained the country's achievements under his rule in the sectors of social welfare, economy, infrastructure, education among others.

Citing data from the National Economic Development Authority, Aquino said the 27.9 percent poverty rate during the first semester of 2012 went down to 24.9 percent for the same period in 2013, translating to 2.5 million Filipinos who have crossed the poverty line.

Aquino also trumpeted the investment grades received by the Philippines in 2013 from the three major credit rating agencies.

But despite the country's achievements under the Aquino administration, observers have pointed out that economic growth has yet to be felt by all classes.

FROM THE GMA NEWS NETWORK

JV Ejercito scores Palace for defending DAP despite SC ruling
By AMITA LEGASPI,GMA NewsAugust 11, 2014 5:03pm


JV Ejercito delivers his "Contra SONA". Senator JV Ejercito delivers his "Contra State of the Nation Address" at the Senate on Monday, August 11. Ejercito said earlier it is the duty of the opposition to point out the administration's shortcomings. Benjie Castro

Minority Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito on Monday scored Malacañang for opposing the Supreme Court decision on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which the high court has ruled unconstitutional.

“Sa kontrobersiya ng DAP, obligasyon nating sundin ang kapasyahan ng Korte Supreme na nagsasabing illegal ito. Sa pagdeklarang unconstitutional and PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel fund), tumalima ang mga congressman at senador, bakit pagdating sa DAP nagmaktol ang Malacanang?” Ejercito said in his privilege speech.

In the speech – delivered in Filipino and entitled “Ang Makatotohanang State of the Nation ng mga Pilipino” – the senator said he does not question the good intentions behind the DAP. He said the issue is that the process that fund disbursements went through violated the Constitution.

“Sana humingi na lang ng supplemental budget sa Kongreso ang Malacañang katulad ng naayon sa batas,” he said.

'Probe other suspicious NGOs too'

He also said he is one with the government in addressing corruption as shown by his signing the blue ribbon committee report recommending the filing of charges against fellow senators, including his brother Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

He said the government should continue investigating the 71 bogus non-governmental organizations mentioned in the special audit report of the Commission on Audit aside from those linked to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

“Inaasahan nating hindi magtatapos sa pag-aresto at pagpapakulong sa tatlo nating kasamahan ang laban sa katiwalian at korapsyon upang hindi isipin na ito ay may bahid pulitika. Umaasa ang buong bansa sa pag-iral ng hustisya. Nawa’y hindi maging balakid ang usapin ng pagiging kapartido, kaalyado, kaibigan at kamag-anak sa nararapat na mainbestigahan ng anumang uri at anyo ng katiwalian,” he said.

He added the public also wants to know what happened to the Malampaya fund as well as the truth behind alleged irregularites in Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

‘No trickle down effect’

In the speech, Ejercito also cited that the country’s economic growth didn't trickle down to the people. He also mentioned unemployment, high prices of basic commodities, poverty, rice importation and smuggling.

He also hit the government for lack of concrete plans for the poor people aside from the implementation of Conditional Cash Transfer. He also mentioned the government's alleged failure to resolve the power crisis.

“Kataka-takang hindi binanggit ng Pangulo sa kanyang SONA ang planong harapin ang krisis na nagbabanta sa ekonomiya at sa ating kabuhayan. Hindi kaya ang mga ulat na nakarating kay Pangulong Aquino ay salat sa katotohanan, kulang, o minadyik para gumanda? Hindi kaya ipinapaabot na lamang n gating mga kalihim ang katotohanan kapag malala na ang problema,” Ejercito said.

* He said he would agree with proposals to give emergency powers to the President if it is coupled with a comprehensive energy plan.

“Ang planong ito ang dapat na magsisilbing pangmatagalang solusyon sa lumalaking pangangailangan ng suplay ng elektrisidad,” he said, adding that it should include plans to lower electricity price and consider other sources of energy.

He said the administration should study what it should do with the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and review the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to allow government build new power plants.

Ejercito said the President seemed to have forgotten the overseas Filipino workers, who needed government’s help.

‘Slow pace of justice’

“Sila ang backbone ng ekonomiya at marapat lamang sila ay kalingain. Taasan dapat ang legal assistance fund para sa mga OFW para maramdaman nila an gating pamahalaan sa oras ng kanilang pangangailangan,” he said.

The senator lauded the administration’s effort to arm all the police officers in the country but he mentioned that lack of vehicles to run after criminals.

He also cited the slow pace of justice in the country especially in the case of the Maguindanao massacre.

“Limang taon na ang nakalipas, patapos na ang termino ng Pangulo, ay wala pa ring pasya ang korte. Kung ang kasong ito ay hindi umuusad, paano pa kaya ang maliliit na kasong dawit ang ordinaryong mamamayan at mahihirap,” he said.

Ejercito asked the President to focus on the problems of Mindanao.

“Kailangang maayos na pag-aralan ang mga paraan para masulit ang pagiging ‘food basket’ ng bansa ang Mindanao at marepaso ang Mindanao Strategic Development Framework na binalangkas ng NEDA,” he said.

Ejercito also scored the administration’s slow response to the needs of the victims of Typhoon Yolanda and the Zamboanga siege. He also said there was no comprehensive disaster preparedness program.

“Ang supertyphoon Yolanda at Zamboanga siege ang maliwanag na nagpapakita ng kawalan ng kahandaan ng ating pamahalaan sa isang kumprehensibong solusyon para sa disaster preparedness,” he said.

Ejercito urged the Aquino administration to unite the nation and stop divisions based on political color.

“Sa halip na ipagpalagay na ang mga “dilawan” lamang ang magagaling at malilinis , bakit hindi natin subukang umupo bilang isang pamahalaan para pag-usapan ang lahat ng bagay na makabubuti sa ating mga kababayan,” said Ejercito.

In a text message, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Palace will study Ejercito's speech to gather the opposition's inputs.

"Maaarin namang pagtulungan ng administrasyon at oposisyon ang pagtugon sa mga suliranin ng bansa sa pamamagitan ng pagpasa ng mga prayoridad na mga batas, kasama na ang pambansang budget," Coloma said.

No input from minority

Meanwhile, Senator Vicente Sotto III, acting minority leader, said Ejercito's speech is his own and is not representative of the Senate minority.

“It is his privilege speech, we don’t want the minority to grab credit where credit is not due. It is his privilege speech, it is his contra-SONA not necessarily the minority. He has our support but the contents of his privilege speech did not come from us, it came from his outlook, his perspective,” Sotto told reporters before the session started.

Sotto said the minority respects Ejercito's views but that he personally does not see any need for him to deliver a counter-SONA.

“I do not have the statistics to counter the statistics that were presented [by the President] and, as a matter of fact, I felt that, together with the other members of the minority, we felt that the President was sincere during his speech in moving the nation to progress,” he said.

He said it is not the first time that a member of the minority delivered counter-SONA on his own.

“There was a time that Senator (Ernesto) Maceda, who was a member of the minority, delivered a contra-SONA. Anyone can deliver a contra-SONA if you do not believe in what the SONA of the President contained. You can stand up and deliver your contra,” said Sotto.

Enrile can write contra-SONA

Asked why the minority bloc decided not to deliver a counter-SONA, he said it would be very difficult to get the consensus of their members.

“That would be very difficult to do because you have to get a real consensus muna. You have to sit down and get the consensus of everybody,” Sotto said.

Of the six members of the minority bloc, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada are detained on plunder and graft charges in connection with the pork barrel scam.

Sotto said that if Senate Minority Leader Enrile wants to give a counter-SONA, either he or Senator Gregorio Honasan II can read Enrile's speech on the Senate floor on his behalf. — with Andreo Calonzo/JDS, GMA News

FROM THE TRIBUNE

JV speech not ‘contra-Sona’ but counter Aquino’s claims Written by Angie M. Rosales Tuesday, 12 August 2014 00:00


JV EJERCITO AT THE SENATE

It was a personal privilege speech of opposition Sen. JV Ejercito in which he provided a reality check on the claims of President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last July 28, and not a contra-Sona as far as members of the Senate minority are concerned.

Ejercito proceeded with what he billed as his counter-state of the nation address (Sona) speech without any “blessings” from his colleagues in the minority bloc. Ejercito said the real state of ordinary Filipinos belie most of the President’s claims during his SONA.

He cited high prices of commodities, including rice, fuel and electricity and the lack of job opportunities for the people as proof that the nation is still far from achieving what Aquino claimed as inclusive growth. “These are the real situation or our nation. Many do not have opportunities, no clear source of livelihood, no discernible future for a good life,” he said.

Ejercito said the country continues to lag behind its Asean neighbors in terms of the quality of infrastructure, particularly in the transport industry, which has resulted in stunting growth.

He also noted the Philippines has been receiving the lowest volume of foreign direct investments in the region.

“It is his privilege speech. We don’t want the minority to grab credit where credit is not due. It is his privilege speech, it is his contra-Sona, not necessarily (that of) the minority,” said “acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III said.

Sotto, however, was quick in emphasizing that the minority bloc stood supportive of Ejercito.

“All members of the minority will always support a fellow member. (But) that’s a perspective of a member of the Senate, you have to respect the perspective. There are some very good points that I think he brought up,” he said.

* Yet Sotto himself admitted that he does not see the need for a counter-Sona as he and some other members of the minority bloc, felt that President Aquino was sincere during his speech in moving the nation to progress and further.

“We are supportive members of the minority, not necessarily the entire minority, are supportive of President Aquino. If is for the country, if good for the people. You can be 100 percent sure that we will be supportive,” he said.

Sotto said his position was shared by detained Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile who Ejercito claimed gave him “blessings” in coming up with a counter-Sona.

“Enrile said no. He has the same perspective (on not having the need to come up with counter-Sona) because if indeed he really wants to, he would have come up with it and he can ask me or (acting Assistant Minority Leader) Sen. (Gregorio) Honasan to deliver it for him. But he was not interested to do so,” he explained.

“I don’t see the the need for contra-Sona as far as I am concerned,” Sotto added.

When asked why they did not opt to have Ejercito’s speech as reflective of the sentiments of the minority bloc, given that they were sought by the senator for their respective inputs, Sotto said “that would be very difficult to do because you have to get a real consensus first (and) you have to sit down and get the consensus of everybody.”

But there is nothing that prevents any member of the Senate, whether the senator comes from the majority or minority bloc, from delivering a privilege speech or even a contra-Sona, as it is allowed by their rules, Sotto said.

Sotto even cited an incident when former Sen. Ernesto Maceda did what Ejercito opted to do.

“So Sen. JV (Ejercito) is going to deliver his privilege speech which will be a contra-Sona in nature. He will have of course the floor and there will be members of Senate who will support him. I don’t know if there will be interpellations later,” he said.

“Anyone can deliver a contra-Sona if you do not believe in what was contained in the Sona of the President. You can stand up and deliver your contra-Sona (in the Senate),” Sotto said, adding that it does not necessarily mean though that what is contained in the speech of their colleague is reflective of their sentiments.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

DOJ, judiciary had highest OBA in 2013 August 11, 2014 11:44 pm
by LLANESCA T. PANTI AND JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA REPORTERS

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) and the judiciary got the lion’s share of the P100-billion off-budget account (OBA) funds in 2013, government records show.

The OBA–which does not require Congressional approval–reached P100 billion at the end of 2013 or almost double the 2012 budget of P52 billion, based on the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing for the Fiscal Year of 2015, a copy of which was released last week during the House budget briefing of the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) on the proposed P2.606-trillion budget for 2015.

The DOJ got a heftier share of the OBA–P60 billion–from a miniscule P172 million at the end of 2012. The judiciary, on the other hand, got P9 billion or P1 billion higher than its 2012 off-budget account of P8 billion.

The Justice department’s P60 billion OBA was sourced from one percent of the net income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), one percent of the proceeds, sales and other sale of property and rental income.

The judiciary got its OBA from legal fees, court fees, fiduciary fund, bail bonds, legal research, trust receipts and miscellaneous income.

* The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Energy (DOE) each got P5 billion, followed by the Department of Transportation and Communications, P4 billion, Department of Health, P2.8 billion, Department of Public Works and Highways, P2.3 billion, Department of Education, P1.58 billion, Department of National Defense, P1.5 billion and Department of Labor and Employment, P1.4 billion.

The Department of Science and Technology and Department of Trade and Industry are tied in 10th place with P1 billion each.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development scooped P654 million.

Executive offices that got OBA are the Commission on Higher Education, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Governance Commission for the GOCCs, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, Philippine Racing Commission and Philippine Sports Commission.

The Commission on Audit got P487 million, Department of Foreign Affairs, P397 million, Finance department, P340 million, National Economic and Development Authority, P325 million, Department of Agriculture, P271 million, Tourism department, P230 million, Financial Assistance to Metro Manila Development Authority, P125 million and Presidential Communication Operations Office, P104 million.

Only the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Budget and Management had off-budget accounts worth less than P100 million with P49 million and P1.67 million, respectively.

The Civil Service Commission was the only government agency with zero OBA.

Beyond P500B

Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate finance committee said OBA funds may even reach P500 billion but he clarified that the funds are not left unchecked.

According to Escudero, besides the known off-budget items such as the remittances from Pagcor, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Motor Vehicles Users’ Charge (MVUC) and Malampaya Funds, there are other public funds that do not require the approval of Congress or those that are automatically appropriated.

Among the big-ticket off-budget items are the debt services and the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for local government units that amount to billions of pesos but do not pass through Congress.

“Interest payment alone is about P350 billion, IRA is about P300 billion. These are all off-budget items and are automatically appropriated but are subject to audit by COA [Commission on Audit],” Escudero said.

He noted that there is nothing wrong with this scheme because the set-up was allowed by the Supreme Court (SC) and the Constitutional Commission.

Escudero explained that the court made it that way to ensure the debt payments and the IRA allocation will not be affected in case there is conflict in Congress.

“Imagine what will happen if IRA needs to pass through Congress and a member of Congress has a problem with a governor, the lawmaker can reduce the amount of IRA allotted to them or even stop its release,” he said.

The senator, however, noted that although these funds do not pass through Congress, the government submits a report annually in relation to the off-budget allocations.

The revenues of Pagcor and PCSO, Escudero said, are also off-budget accounts that do not need Congress’ approval but the two state-run institutions are required to submit their reports to the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG), which in turn submits a report to Congress.

GCG acts as a central advisory, monitoring and oversight body with authority to formulate, implement and coordinate policies governing government-owned and -controlled corporations.

“The reason why PCSO and Pagcor don’t pass through Congress is that they don’t ask funding from Congress. In fact, they are providing funds for the government,” Escudero pointed out.

But even with the billions of pesos in off-budget items allotted to various government agencies, the senator sees no need to introduce additional means to further monitor the use of funds since COA and the existing system are enough to ensure regularity.

“We are ready to investigate in case we see an anomaly in the use of the off-budget funds but right now the regular submission of reports regarding the fund use to Congress is sufficient,” Escudero said.

FROM THE KILUSANG MAYO WEBSITE

Workers hit Aquino’s king-size pork in 2015 budget 06-August-2014

As the House of Representatives starts deliberations on the proposed 2015 national budget, workers and urban poor led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno marched to Mendiola this morning to condemn Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s insistence on amassing king-size pork funds yet again.

Former National Treasurer Leonor Briones revealed that P1 trillion in the proposed P2.6 trillion national budget is composed of lump-sum allocations which are the chief executive’s pork barrel funds while government agencies known as conduits for legislators’ pork would receive bigger funds for 2015.

“There has not been a satisfactory accounting of the DAP yet Aquino is already pushing for another set of king-size pork funds. Does he think that his tears in his SONA already washed away his sins over the DAP?” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, referring to the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

The labor leader said the Aquino government continues to refuse to give details on where the DAP funds came from and where these were spent, saying the said funds must be audited and those responsible for its creation made accountable.

“It appears that the 2015 national budget is a budget for Aquino’s political survival and impunity from plunder charges. He wants to evade accountability over the DAP and other corruption cases during the remaining years of his term and even after his term ends in 2016,” Labog stated.

* He added that the move by Aquino’s allies in Congress to pass laws that will legalize the DAP shows that Aquino continues to arrogantly defy the Supreme Court ruling declaring the program unconstitutional and still wants to allocate king-size pork funds to himself apart from those already indicated in the national budget.

“Aquino thinks that he is so popular, he can get away with amassing huge pork barrel funds through the national budget for years in a row and still have his DAP. Such arrogance and greed could only further fuel Filipinos’ anger at him,” said Labog.

The labor leader called on Filipinos to intensify protests against Aquino’s huge pork barrel funds, the pork barrel system and corruption in government, saying Aquino must be held accountable for maintaining the pork barrel system and being the latter’s main beneficiary.

“Aquino’s pork is still theft of public funds that are better allocated for schools, hospitals and housing projects. Government projects that are really important deserve to be funded through legal means, and those funded illegally could only be the rightful target of the public’s suspicion,” Labog said. Reference Person: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson
Contact information: 0908-1636597

FROM PHILSTAR

Palace mum on ‘pork-full’ budget By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 13, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang distanced itself yesterday from allegations that pork barrel funds still form a huge chunk of the Aquino administration’s national budget.

Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office neither confirmed nor denied claims that P20.7 billion of the 2014 budget were realigned for at least six agencies, including the Department of Health and the Commission on Higher Education.

“It is no longer covered by the executive, that is a proceeding of the House,” he said during a press briefing.

Coloma was referring to the supposed audio recordings of an executive session of the House of Representatives during which concerned officials were discussing scholarships and medical assistance funds with lawmakers.

The audio recordings formed part of the fourth impeachment complaint filed by Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio.

Coloma was also coy on proposals for the government to conduct an investigation of executive officials who were quoted in the audio recordings. – With Christina Mendez

DBM, DPWH in limbo on P6-B savings By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 13, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are in a quandary over the use of at least P6 billion in savings the latter has generated.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson told the House appropriations committee chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab yesterday that he had requested the DBM for authority to use his agency’s savings.

However, he said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad is still weighing whether to approve or reject his request in the light of the recent Supreme Court decision striking down the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.

He noted that in its ruling, the SC would want the government to declare and use savings only toward the end of the year.

Singson said savings would be useless if made available to agencies only in November or December.

“These funds have to be used in a timely manner. As it is, we start realizing savings as early as January when we begin awarding contracts. These savings are generated from the bidding process, which usually result in contract costs that are lower than project appropriations,” he said.

He said savings are also realized when projects are abandoned.

*  Citing specific examples, Singson said his department has junked a road project in Cebu “because the local government unit has withdrawn the tree-cutting permit they gave us.”

“I don’t want to fight them over this. I would rather that the project and its funding be realigned. Those funds are already savings,” he added.

Another example he cited is the rehabilitation of Edsa in Metro Manila.

Singson said because of numerous complaints about traffic congestion when several parts of Edsa are being repaired, he has requested the DBM that some funds be declared as savings and realigned to other projects.

However, he pointed out that the SC ruling on DAP disallows the use of savings at midyear.

“We want to be allowed to use these funds. We are seeking the help of Congress,” he said.

At least one congressman, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, has filed a bill allowing the use of savings on a quarterly basis.

Noy better drop Mar, Abad, other LP jinxes POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual JR. (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 12, 2014 - 12:00am 1 37 googleplus2 1


By Federico D. Pascual, Jr

PANATAG MISTAKE: An American friend who was with the US Marines has what looks like a straightforward answer to the question of how to slay the Chinese dragon nibbling at the fringes of Philippine maritime territory.

Visiting him over the weekend in his house in a wooded area in New Jersey, we got to talk about adobo, shooting wild turkey with a crossbow, taking down North Korean squaddies with his sniper rifle, US military bases, and Chinese communist aggression.

He said it was a mistake for us to have abandoned Panatag (Scarborough) shoal off Zambales, when poachers escorted by Chinese government vessels grabbed it in 2012 and drove away Filipinos from their traditional fishing ground.

* * *

FIGHT FOR IT: But what could we do in the face of superior force? Besides, from Malacañang came the order of the Commander-in-Chief for all Filipino vessels to pull out to avoid the storm blowing in the vicinity of Panatag.

The Marine scoffed at this use of the weather as excuse for running away from a clear act of aggression. Repeating what we all know, he said that one will lose all that he has which he is not ready to defend.

Filipinos should have fought back, he said, with their coast guard or navy rushing to the rescue. With our naval vessels that even Moro kumpits can outrun?, I asked. With whatever you have, he said.

* * *

ONLY OPTION: There is a reason for standing up to the neighborhood bully, even if it may look like madness to President Noynoy Aquino and his yellow advisers.

Asserting sovereign rights is not misplaced braggadocio. To my no-nonsense Marine friend, it is the only option. It is duty.

* He explained that once shots are fired, especially if any personnel or sea craft is hit, the United States must join in and respond militarily. It does not matter who fired the first shot, and it will be extremely difficult to show who did.

Bringing the US into the fray is one reason for fighting back when attacked, even at the risk of losing some men and one boat or two. Under the Phl-US Mutual Defense Treaty, the US must come to our succor in case of an armed attack.

* * *

IT IS OURS: The US cannot pretend to be still not sure that Panatag is Philippine territory, and therefore not covered by the MDT.

Here is an entry in Wikipedia: “In 1957, the Philippine government conducted an oceanographic survey of the area and together with the US Navy force based in then US Naval Base Subic Bay in Zambales, used the area as an impact range for defense purposes. An 8.3-meter-high flagpole flying a Philippine flag was raised in 1965. An iron tower that was to serve as a small lighthouse was also built and operated the same year. In 1992, the Philippine Navy rehabilitated the lighthouse and reported it to the International Maritime Organization for publication in the List of Lights.

“The 1900 Treaty of Washington provided that any and all islands belonging to the Philippine archipelago, lying outside the lines described in Article III of the Treaty of Paris, were also ceded to the United States. This included Scarborough Shoal, which is outside the Treaty of Paris treaty lines. In effect, the Treaty of Washington amended the Treaty of Paris, so that the islands ceded by Spain to the US included islands within and outside the Treaty of Paris treaty lines, so long as Spain had title or claim of title to the islands.”

It would be a different matter, however, if the US is neither ready nor willing to engage China and may in fact have forewarned President Aquino against firing or provoking the first shot over Panatag.

As a Pilipino expression goes, there can be any reason when one wants to do it but a myriad excuses if one does not want to.

* * *

LET GO!: Meanwhile, it looks like it is time for President Aquino to start cutting losses to save whatever is left of his political capital and leave the table with enough chips to stay popular and relevant.

With only one year left of his six-year term (not counting the sixth year which will be eaten up by the 2016 elections), he has to make quick decisions on several issues complicating the end-game of his administration.

We are not privy to Aquino’s political entanglements, but from our vantage we see that:

• He does not owe DILG Secretary Mar Roxas any political favor for stepping aside in 2010 to let him have the Liberal Party presidential nomination. It is Roxas who should thank Aquino for snatching him from sure defeat as LP standard bearer then.

• As ruling party, the LP has not contributed significantly to making life better for Filipinos. On the contrary, LP carpetbaggers have abused their being with the administration, and gotten away with flouting Aquino’s tuwid na daan reform program.

While his intentions may be honorable, many of his plans and programs have been corrupted by some operators around him.

* * *

DROP THEM!: Banking on Aquino’s obstinacy, this citizen would like to see him take these actions:

• Stop this pointless parading of Roxas as his chosen successor. The pretender has been given more than enough time and space to prove himself, but he simply does not have it.

• Suspend, dismiss and/or jail a number of his Cabinet members and second liners who are notoriously undesirable, obviously corrupt or bereft of any concern for those who have less in life. An example is Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

Four years of the LP pretending to help him, a neophyte executive, run the government has not resulted in any impressive gain, especially in poverty alleviation, job generation, peace and security, and the other basic concerns.

His loyalty should not be to the Liberal party or his gratitude to Roxas, but to his real bosses, the people.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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