YOLANDA FUNDS WITHHELD IN DSWD ACCOUNT 

SEPT 15 --Soliman (photo) kept P799-m aid in DSWD accounts, two lawmakers affirm. THE national government did not release a single centavo for victims of typhoon Yolanda because Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman resorted to “double accounting” and claimed credit for P779 million in foreign donations released by the World Food Programme, lawmakers said Sunday. Reps. Jonathan dela Cruz of Abakada and Terry Ridon of Kabataan demanded that Soliman reveal exactly how much in government funds had been released following a report by the Commission on Audit that said the Social Welfare and Development Department had funds sitting idly in its bank accounts.
They also slammed Soliman for failing to give credit to the WFP’s effort to immediately respond to the needs of the typhoon victims. “It was kind of rude. At the very least, Soliman should have acknowledged that the government conducted relief and rehabilitation operations ‘in partnership with the World Food Programme.’ There was no mention of WFP in her statement,” Dela Cruz said.

When Soliman did use the acronym WFP in a statement issued by the Palace, she used it to refer to the DSWD’s Work Financial Plan. “The department explained that the cash donations were used based on the approved Work and Financial Plan (WFP),” the Palace-released statement said. “According to the WFP, the amount was used for the Core Shelter Assistance Program, Emergency Shelter Assistance where families with totally damaged houses received P30,000 each and those with partially damaged houses got P10,000, Supplemental Feeding Program, and livelihood assistance,” the statement said. But Dela Cruz insisted that contrary to Soliman’s claims, WFP funded even the conditional cash transfer through the DSWD’s 4Ps program. “To avoid double accounting and for Soliman to correct her claiming credit from the prestigious World Food Programme, we demand that Soliman make a detailed and full accounting of the donated funds,” Dela Cruz said. *READ MORE...

ALSO: DSWD head Soliman ignores calls of critics for her to resign 

SEPT 16 --PHOTO: Survivors of Typhoon “Yolanda” stage a protest inside the compound of the Department
of Social Welfare and Development in Quezon City on March 28, 2014, to show their dismay over the rotten relief goods being distributed five months after the typhoon. They also called for the resignation of DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman. –A familiar refrain. Amid calls for her resignation, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said she would not give up her post and that she did not wish to be distracted from her tasks. At a press conference on Monday, she defended the Department of Social Welfare and Development from charges of inefficiency and incompetence.

“All of you know that I had resigned from my post because of my principles. I saw that the people’s welfare was being compromised. So it would not be hard for me to do that,” Soliman told reporters.
She resigned as head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in 2005, along with other Cabinet secretaries, at the height of the “Hello Garci” scandal that rocked the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “I am listening to everyone, and I think if there is something that should be corrected, it should be done. But now, I don’t want to be distracted because there are so many things to do and the DSWD is continuing its job of serving the public,” Soliman said on Monday.*READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy draws line to allies: You’re with us or not  

SEPT 13 --PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III urged his allies Friday to defend the gains of his
“straight
path” policy and to trumpet these among their constituents. In an “agenda-setting dialogue” with “fellow reformists” at the Palace Friday, Aquino also took a swipe at politicians such as Vice President Jejomar Binay, who were not present.
“To those who are not with us now because their principles are against ours, isn’t it natural that they are also against everything that we have done?

They are against the 4 million citizens who benefited from the conditional cash transfer [program]. They are against the coverage expansion of PhilHealth,” Aquino said in his speech. “They are against the 6.2 million Filipinos who have finished their TESDA courses since we came into office. They are against the 12,000 kilometer of roads that we have built and repaired. They are against everything we have worked hard for to alleviate the lives of Filipinos,” the President said. A spokesman for Binay said he was not present at the dialogue because he was not invited. “The dialogue was meant to be an administration party coalition address and the Vice President is not part of the coalition. That is how we interpret his not receiving an invitation,” said Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s spokesman for political affairs.

“The Vice President remains committed to the reform agenda of the President. He still embraces the President’s agenda. Today’s meeting should not be reflective of their relationship,” he added. In his speech at the Palace, Aquino said his allies should no longer be shy in trumpeting his administration’s accomplishments. “I urge all of you: remind our citizens of the positive gains brought about by the tuwid na daan (straight path). Let me repeat myself: we are in the right, and our accomplishments from treading the straight path are very clear. You will not have a hard time convincing our people because they know these too,” he said. “If other beliefs override ours, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. Perhaps we were too shy in sharing the good news with our bosses. Perhaps we lacked the initiative.” 

“This is why if there are those who doubt us, let us explain to them. If there are those who spread lies, let us fight back with truth and logic. We should be the first to trumpet our achievements, otherwise the gains of tuwid na daan will get drowned in the noise,” the President said. Aquino also bared the government’s solutions to issues confronting the country today. To handle a tight power supply, Aquino said he will ask Congress for a joint resolution based on Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act to authorize the government to contract additional generation capacity. “We are pushing for all schemes to prevent the projected brownouts. I have tasked Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to ensure we are prepared, so that we can perhaps avoid the scenario of brownouts during the summer months next year,” the President said.

Aquino said he has also directed Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras to focus on the issue of port congestion while he reminded the Transportation Department to implement the upgrade of the MRT as soon as possible. While Aquino did not mention term extension, he said he does not want to be the politician who will be tasked to continue the reforms he has initiated when he steps down in 2016. “I hope I am not that candidate,” he said. “Some people have said it is my obligation to look for my successor and prepare him. There are some people who said that I should be the one to continue leading the country. I cannot disregard the opinion of our people.”  “But perhaps the question should not be who should continue. Because there is no other answer to that question but that it should be all of us who would continue the reforms,” Aquino added. *READ MORE...

(ALSO) Escudero twits Aquino: How can you tell what your 100M bosses want?  

SEPT 18 --Sen. Francis Escudero: Just curious. INQUIRER file photo. MANILA, Philippines–How exactly will President Aquino determine what his 100 million bosses want with regard to whether he should be seeking another term?

Sen. Francis Escudero, Senate finance committee chair, raised this question with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa after the latter said Aquino was not being inconsistent with his pronouncements on the possibility of running again. Escudero, who presided over the hearing on the Office of the President’s budget Wednesday, noted that Aquino once again brought up the possibility of seeking a second term during his European sojourn although his pronouncement before leaving Manila was that he hoped he would not be chosen as his own successor. But according to Ochoa, there has been no flip-flopping on the President’s part.

“What I understand on a personal basis is that the President will listen to his bosses, and that’s what he has been saying all along, and we don’t see any inconsistency in any of his statements,” Ochoa said. Escudero said he was not saying there was any inconsistency, only that there was that possibility. He also asked if Aquino would not run if his bosses say he shouldn’t, and would run if they say he should. Ochoa replied that that was how he understood the President’s statement. Constitutional amendment ---If the people say he should amend the Constitution so that he could run again, then this will be done as well, Ochoa said. “If that’s what it will take to do it, that will be the route that will be taken.”

But Escudero wondered how exactly the Palace would know what the people actually wanted. “Out of curiosity, how do we find out what his bosses want? Short of a referendum,” the senator said. Ochoa did not reply to this question.
Asked the question again in an ambush interview, the executive secretary said the President could clarify the matter later. “We have not discussed that in that detail yet. How that will be, but I’m sure the President has something on his mind. He can clarify when he comes back,” he told reporters. Aquino security ---Turning to another topic, Escudero suggested that Malacañang draw up clear guidelines on whom the Presidential Security Group (PSG) would cover.*READ  MORE...

ALSO: Aquino, Palace keep on 2nd term guessing game  

SEPT 17 --President Aquino and the Palace want the public to keep guessing on his real intent about calls for him to seek a second term through amending the constitutional provision limiting the President to one term of six years. The Palace had repeatedly dismissed suggestions for Aquino to stay on beyond 2016 but during his current European tour Aquino told reporters in Madrid, Spain that he had not ruled out a second term, saying when there is a will, there is a way. Aquino up to now has not clarified his position on extending his term, with him and his allies constantly changing their statements. The President has been dropping hints throughout his foreign tour saying there is still time for charter change (cha-cha) to allow an extension of his term. He said there are forces wanting to brand him a lameduck, thus the possibility for extending his term.

Deputy Presidential spokesman Abigail Valte again yesterday clarified the President has not mentioned anything directly pertaining to extending his term, adding that there aren’t plans that the President shared related to a term extension such as plans to call on Congress to start deliberating on cha-cha once back from overseas. “It’s hypothetical, so far the President has not mentioned any plans about calling on Congress to start hearing on amending the Charter,” Valte said. “At this point, I can assure you that what’s on the mind of the President is making sure that the reforms done in the past four years will remain in place even after 2016,” she said.

Valte said it has always been the President’s paramount concern to maintain the momentum for reforms. “Some reforms will be institutionalized by legislation as we’ve done in some instances. In others we make sure it’s embraced in the bureaucracy, and other ways as well, but those are the examples I can give you,” she said. Valte said the President has been openly saying that he listens to the call of the people, quipping that the constituents from whom the President takes his premises are those he commonly interacts with during Filipino activities in the local or international scene. “Another thing that has not changed is that the President has always been candid since his assumption in office is that he will always listen to the people,” Valte said.

“I’m pretty sure that when our countrymen who took part in the Filipino activities with the President in Madrid and in Brussels say something [he looks into it.] So, the President takes these opportunities to be able to know what’s on the mind of his constituents,” Valte said. In reaction to public confusion arising from the President’s statements on term extension, Valte said even Palace officials have no idea what the President meant, washing off any imputation of knowledge on the President’s bid to extend his term.

“Well, you know some questions can’t be answered as quickly as the time we want them to be answered. But, you know, the benefit of hearing all these is hearing the President’s thoughts on certain matters which for the past times we have not had any insight to,” Valte said. “No, I can tell you we don’t read between the lines, especially for the spokespersons. We always take our cue from the President and the President advises us on what positions to take, because essentially we are just echoing the President’s positions,” she added. *READ MORE...

ALSO Manila Times Editorial: Second term a real possibility  

WE must continue to be vigilant and be ready to work against any moves to allow President Benigno Aquino 3rd to have a second term as president. Section 4, Article VII of our Constitution limits the President to a single six-year term. The Constitution was drafted and approved under the authority of President Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino. She rejected attempts to give her more years as president. It seems that Mr. Aquino and his men are really pursuing the possibility of extending his rule. This is apparent from the way the President keeps repeating the line that “he cannot ignore the will of his Bosses.”

The reasons he and his key allies in the Liberal Party and his closest associates in the Cabinet are bent on getting him to continue as president are, in a manner of speaking, a matter of life and death for them. Politically, the Liberal Party is dead. This is because the people responsible for the gigantic instances of corruption and illegal and unconstitutional acts are among the LPs highest leaders, including President Aquino himself and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. In addition, the biggest recipients of hundreds of millions and even billions of the illegal funds of the Disbursement Acceleration Program are the pet projects of Liberal Party top officers, again notably Secretary Abad. Morally and legally, President Aquino, Secretary Abad and several of the Cabinet members will surely be charged–when Mr. Aquino ceases to be president–with having committed corrupt acts, violations of the Constitution and various laws of the land. For sure, if the next president were a member of the opposition party, he or she would have to do his or her duty and file cases against President Aquino, Secretary Abad et al.

In fact, even if the next president were a Liberal Party man, including DILG Secretary Mar Roxas or even Senate President Drilon, just for example, he cannot be guaranteed to ignore the clamor of the people to prosecute Mr. Aquino, Mr. Abad and whoever else were more actively guilty of corrupt acts and criminal negligence during their years in the Palace. That will surely be the case. It happened to the corrupt rulers and power holders in other countries, like South Korea and Indonesia, to name two whose political histories are more familiar to more Filipinos than other countries. Therefore, it becomes really imperative for President Aquino, Secretary Abad and their closest collaborators, that Mr. Aquino should succeed himself for a second term or even for life. The Constitution has to be amended to make that possible. And right now some congressmen–despite Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s announcements that he and the House leaders would only entertain proposed Charter amendments to make our country more attractive to foreign direct investors–are moving to repeal the Constitution’s term limits on the president and on legislators.*READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Yolanda funds withheld

Soliman kept P799-m aid in DSWD accounts, two lawmakers affirm


Soliman

MANILA
, SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) By Christine F. Herrera | Sep. 15, 2014 at 12:01am

THE national government did not release a single centavo for victims of typhoon Yolanda because Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman resorted to “double accounting” and claimed credit for P779 million in foreign donations released by the World Food Programme, lawmakers said Sunday.

Reps. Jonathan dela Cruz of Abakada and Terry Ridon of Kabataan demanded that Soliman reveal exactly how much in government funds had been released following a report by the Commission on Audit that said the Social Welfare and Development Department had funds sitting idly in its bank accounts.

They also slammed Soliman for failing to give credit to the WFP’s effort to immediately respond to the needs of the typhoon victims.

“It was kind of rude. At the very least, Soliman should have acknowledged that the government conducted relief and rehabilitation operations ‘in partnership with the World Food Programme.’ There was no mention of WFP in her statement,” Dela Cruz said.

When Soliman did use the acronym WFP in a statement issued by the Palace, she used it to refer to the DSWD’s Work Financial Plan.

“The department explained that the cash donations were used based on the approved Work and Financial Plan (WFP),” the Palace-released statement said.

“According to the WFP, the amount was used for the Core Shelter Assistance Program, Emergency Shelter Assistance where families with totally damaged houses received P30,000 each and those with partially damaged houses got P10,000, Supplemental Feeding Program, and livelihood assistance,” the statement said.

But Dela Cruz insisted that contrary to Soliman’s claims, WFP funded even the conditional cash transfer through the DSWD’s 4Ps program.

“To avoid double accounting and for Soliman to correct her claiming credit from the prestigious World Food Programme, we demand that Soliman make a detailed and full accounting of the donated funds,” Dela Cruz said.

* In its Philippines Situation Report #24 dated Feb. 27, 2014, the WFP said it released to the Yolanda-stricken areas, some $88 million in food assistance. It also shouldered some $25 million in telecommunications and $1.7 million in food security costs.

Apart from the DSWD, the WFP said it coursed funds through the Departments of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, local government units, United Nations agencies and non-government organizations.

“As of 24 February, WFP has received contributions for the Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) response from the following governments: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luzembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States, as well as from the European Commission and the UN CERF fund. Additionally, millions of dollars have been received from generous private donors,” the WFP said in its report.

In contrast to the WFP’s detailed accounting, Soliman could only claim, without providing details, that all the foreign donations had been fully accounted for, Dela Cruz said.

“Where is the full accounting since even the Commission on Audit came out with a report adverse to DSWD?” Dela Cruz said.

“How come also Soliman did not mention which foreign governments donated the funds? Is it because she could not since the funds were coursed through the World Food Programme and not through her DSWD? Then it is only fair and just that the WFP be given credit for what it did for the country,” Dela Cruz said.

In the Palace-issued statement of Soliman, the DSWD clarified that it has “already fully disbursed the P779,486,400.15 local and foreign cash donations it received in December 2013 and that these are fully accounted for.”

The clarification came after news reports mentioned that an audit report of Typhoon Yolanda relief operations cited that DSWD has yet to spend the P782 million in cash donations it received from local and foreign donors.

“At the time the audit was conducted, we were still doing relief operations and were still using the Department’s existing funds and ready supplies, so much of the cash donations would really not have been really touched yet,” Soliman said, adding that the cash donations were really intended for the implementation of rehabilitation efforts based on proposals of affected local government units.

“So what did Soliman do? Reimburse the DSWD when the foreign donated funds came? So how much exactly did Soliman release for the Yolanda victims using government funds? She should face the congressional probe and explain everything,” Ridon said.

Ridon, who filed House Resolution 1492 seeking a probe of the DSWD’s performance in attending to the needs of the Yolanda victims and accounting of the “missing” funds, said 10 months after the devastation, the national government has yet to make full accounting of the funds intended for the victims.

Dela Cruz also demanded the full accounting of the P14 billion in supplemental budget that Congress appropriated for Yolanda and other calamity-stricken areas.

In House Resolution 1492, Ridon expressed concern over the recent Commission on Audit report, which disclosed that the DSWD has failed to distribute some 128,000 cans of sardines and P69.2 million worth of bottled water.

Ridon said COA also noted that P58 million worth of supplies were wasted due to irresponsible storage.

This includes some 7,527 family food packs valued at P2.7 million, he said.

“According to the audit team, out of the P740.17 million the DSWD received, only P3.88 million was disbursed, leaving a huge balance of almost P737 million in undisbursed amounts,” Ridon said.

“Any reasonable person will be enraged by the fact that our countrymen in Eastern Visayas are going hungry while millions worth of relief goods just rot in DSWD’s storehouses,” Ridon said.

“While many typhoon victims have yet to recover from the disaster, now we find out that DSWD is withholding even the release of cash donations both from domestic and international sources,” Ridon said.

Soliman also noted, “The audit report only covered until December 2013, just a month after ‘Yolanda’. So understandably, the utilization [of the donations] will still be low.”

As of August 28, the DSWD has received a total of P1,121,890,457.41 local and foreign cash donations, the statement said.

Some 90 percent of this has already been utilized including the more than P700 million received in 2013, the Palace-issued statement said.

A portion of the balance of P117 million has already been allocated for ESA, cash-for-work in support for ESA, provision of pedicabs, warehouse rentals, and administrative expenses, the statement said.

“The Department is still also waiting for project proposals of typhoon-affected LGUs for part of the remaining balance in the donations.”

“We cannot easily transfer funds to LGUs without a clear proposal on how the budget will be used,” Soliman said.

The DSWD said the spoilage of relief in Cebu City and Isabel, Leyte was due to the goods getting wet while in transit at sea.

“These were sorted out by the Department, and those found to be unfit for human consumption were reported to COA and were subsequently disposed of,” Soliman said.

Soliman assured the public that those accountable of the incident will be held liable.

FROM THE INQUIRER

DSWD head Soliman ignores calls of critics for her to resign By Julie M. Aurelio |Philippine Daily Inquirer1:31 am | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014


Survivors of Typhoon "Yolanda" stage a protest inside the compound of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Quezon City on March 28, 2014, to show their dismay over the rotten relief goods being distributed five months after the typhoon. They also called for the resignation of DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman. INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

MANILA, Philippines–A familiar refrain.

Amid calls for her resignation, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said she would not give up her post and that she did not wish to be distracted from her tasks.

At a press conference on Monday, she defended the Department of Social Welfare and Development from charges of inefficiency and incompetence.

“All of you know that I had resigned from my post because of my principles. I saw that the people’s welfare was being compromised. So it would not be hard for me to do that,” Soliman told reporters.

She resigned as head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in 2005, along with other Cabinet secretaries, at the height of the “Hello Garci” scandal that rocked the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“I am listening to everyone, and I think if there is something that should be corrected, it should be done. But now, I don’t want to be distracted because there are so many things to do and the DSWD is continuing its job of serving the public,” Soliman said on Monday.

* She urged the media to be fair in their reporting, particularly if the DSWD was concerned, and for reporters to get her side or clarification on issues.

“I leave those critics to God. These issues are not exactly new, we’ve answered these issues before, and we have shown that we have not been lacking,” she said.

The official issued the statement after the DSWD was slammed for the purported spoilage of more than 7,000 food packs meant for victims of last year’s Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” the alleged P5 billion in conditional cash transfer funds not liquidated by PhilPost, among others.

Last week, a group of Yolanda survivors called for Soliman’s resignation. Malacañang came to her defense, saying the secretary still enjoys the trust of President Aquino.

ALSO Mustering the troops: PNoy draws line-- You’re with us or not  By Joyce Pangco Panares | Sep. 13, 2014 at 12:01am


Mustering troops. President Benigno Aquino III delivers his speech during a dialogue with reformists and like-minded public servants from the government and civil society groups in Malacañang on Friday. Malacañang Photo Bureau

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III urged his allies Friday to defend the gains of his “straight path” policy and to trumpet these among their constituents.

In an “agenda-setting dialogue” with “fellow reformists” at the Palace Friday, Aquino also took a swipe at politicians such as Vice President Jejomar Binay, who were not present.

“To those who are not with us now because their principles are against ours, isn’t it natural that they are also against everything that we have done? They are against the 4 million citizens who benefited from the conditional cash transfer [program]. They are against the coverage expansion of PhilHealth,” Aquino said in his speech.

“They are against the 6.2 million Filipinos who have finished their TESDA courses since we came into office. They are against the 12,000 kilometer of roads that we have built and repaired. They are against everything we have worked hard for to alleviate the lives of Filipinos,” the President said.

A spokesman for Binay said he was not present at the dialogue because he was not invited.

“The dialogue was meant to be an administration party coalition address and the Vice President is not part of the coalition. That is how we interpret his not receiving an invitation,” said Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s spokesman for political affairs.

“The Vice President remains committed to the reform agenda of the President. He still embraces the President’s agenda. Today’s meeting should not be reflective of their relationship,” he added.

In his speech at the Palace, Aquino said his allies should no longer be shy in trumpeting his administration’s accomplishments.

“I urge all of you: remind our citizens of the positive gains brought about by the tuwid na daan (straight path). Let me repeat myself: we are in the right, and our accomplishments from treading the straight path are very clear. You will not have a hard time convincing our people because they know these too,” he said.

“If other beliefs override ours, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. Perhaps we were too shy in sharing the good news with our bosses. Perhaps we lacked the initiative.”

“This is why if there are those who doubt us, let us explain to them. If there are those who spread lies, let us fight back with truth and logic. We should be the first to trumpet our achievements, otherwise the gains of tuwid na daan will get drowned in the noise,” the President said.

Aquino also bared the government’s solutions to issues confronting the country today.

To handle a tight power supply, Aquino said he will ask Congress for a joint resolution based on Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act to authorize the government to contract additional generation capacity.

“We are pushing for all schemes to prevent the projected brownouts. I have tasked Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to ensure we are prepared, so that we can perhaps avoid the scenario of brownouts during the summer months next year,” the President said.

Aquino said he has also directed Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras to focus on the issue of port congestion while he reminded the Transportation Department to implement the upgrade of the MRT as soon as possible.

While Aquino did not mention term extension, he said he does not want to be the politician who will be tasked to continue the reforms he has initiated when he steps down in 2016.

“I hope I am not that candidate,” he said.

“Some people have said it is my obligation to look for my successor and prepare him. There are some people who said that I should be the one to continue leading the country. I cannot disregard the opinion of our people.”

“But perhaps the question should not be who should continue. Because there is no other answer to that question but that it should be all of us who would continue the reforms,” Aquino added.

* While Binay did not attend the dialogue, his daughter Makati Rep. Abigail Binay was present as a member of the majority coalition in Congress.

“All of us - allies in the executive branch, allies in Congress, colleagues from the responsible opposition, party-mates, members of the coalition, and allies from the civil society--are bound not by personality, not by campaign color, not by slogans, but by principles,” the President said.

“We are bound by our desire for our people. We do not have a tactical alliance here. We do not believe that good governance is politics of addition--that even if the person is opposed to your principles, you would ally with him if he can further your political ambitions,” Aquino added.

Although Aquino did not mention any names, he said those who supported a candidate he has not yet endorsed could not be considered an ally.

This was widely seen as a reference to Binay, who has already declared he will run for President in 2016.

Aquino has yet to announce his choice for the 2016 polls, and said he will endorse a candidate who can continue the reforms that he started.

Binay and his family have been embroiled in allegations of corruption over an alleged overpriced parking building that began when he was still mayor of Makati City. Binay and his family have denied any wrongdoing. With Sara Susanne D. Fabunan

FROM THE INQUIRER

Escudero twits Aquino: How can you tell what your 100M bosses want? By Leila B. Salaverria |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:01 am | Thursday, September 18th, 2014


Sen. Francis Escudero: Just curious. INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines–How exactly will President Aquino determine what his 100 million bosses want with regard to whether he should be seeking another term?

Sen. Francis Escudero, Senate finance committee chair, raised this question with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa after the latter said Aquino was not being inconsistent with his pronouncements on the possibility of running again.

Escudero, who presided over the hearing on the Office of the President’s budget Wednesday, noted that Aquino once again brought up the possibility of seeking a second term during his European sojourn although his pronouncement before leaving Manila was that he hoped he would not be chosen as his own successor.

But according to Ochoa, there has been no flip-flopping on the President’s part.

“What I understand on a personal basis is that the President will listen to his bosses, and that’s what he has been saying all along, and we don’t see any inconsistency in any of his statements,” Ochoa said.

Escudero said he was not saying there was any inconsistency, only that there was that possibility.

He also asked if Aquino would not run if his bosses say he shouldn’t, and would run if they say he should. Ochoa replied that that was how he understood the President’s statement.

Constitutional amendment

If the people say he should amend the Constitution so that he could run again, then this will be done as well, Ochoa said.
“If that’s what it will take to do it, that will be the route that will be taken.”

But Escudero wondered how exactly the Palace would know what the people actually wanted.

“Out of curiosity, how do we find out what his bosses want? Short of a referendum,” the senator said. Ochoa did not reply to this question.

Asked the question again in an ambush interview, the executive secretary said the President could clarify the matter later.

“We have not discussed that in that detail yet. How that will be, but I’m sure the President has something on his mind. He can clarify when he comes back,” he told reporters.

Aquino security

Turning to another topic, Escudero suggested that Malacañang draw up clear guidelines on whom the Presidential Security Group (PSG) would cover.

* This was after he asked Ochoa whether the PSG members could be assigned to secure someone the bachelor President has been dating.

“In a unique situation that we have now, the President is ready, available and willing to mingle. Would it be illegal, to say the least, if someone he is, for example, seeing on a long term would be covered by this one, too.

“In other words, can the President assign PSG agents to someone who is not part of his official family, at least not yet,” he said.

He said he brought up the matter because it was about time that this be tackled, noting that in other countries, there is a clear policy on who the secret service would guard.

The matter could be done through executive or legislative fiat, but Escudero said it would be better if the guidelines would come from the Palace.

The PSG covers the President’s immediate family, which is the spouse and children if the chief executive is married, or parents, if they are still alive, according to Ochoa. Siblings could be covered as well.

The PSG also provides security to the Vice President, former Presidents, visiting heads of state and heads of government, Ochoa said.

But he agreed with Escudero that there must be clear guidelines on whom the PSG should cover.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Aquino, Palace keep on 2nd term guessing game Written by Joshua L. Labonera Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:00

President Aquino and the Palace want the public to keep guessing on his real intent about calls for him to seek a second term through amending the constitutional provision limiting the President to one term of six years.

The Palace had repeatedly dismissed suggestions for Aquino to stay on beyond 2016 but during his current European tour Aquino told reporters in Madrid, Spain that he had not ruled out a second term, saying when there is a will, there is a way.

Aquino up to now has not clarified his position on extending his term, with him and his allies constantly changing their statements. The President has been dropping hints throughout his foreign tour saying there is still time for charter change (cha-cha) to allow an extension of his term. He said there are forces wanting to brand him a lameduck, thus the possibility for extending his term.

Deputy Presidential spokesman Abigail Valte again yesterday clarified the President has not mentioned anything directly pertaining to extending his term, adding that there aren’t plans that the President shared related to a term extension such as plans to call on Congress to start deliberating on cha-cha once back from overseas.

“It’s hypothetical, so far the President has not mentioned any plans about calling on Congress to start hearing on amending the Charter,” Valte said.

“At this point, I can assure you that what’s on the mind of the President is making sure that the reforms done in the past four years will remain in place even after 2016,” she said.

Valte said it has always been the President’s paramount concern to maintain the momentum for reforms.

“Some reforms will be institutionalized by legislation as we’ve done in some instances. In others we make sure it’s embraced in the bureaucracy, and other ways as well, but those are the examples I can give you,” she said.

Valte said the President has been openly saying that he listens to the call of the people, quipping that the constituents from whom the President takes his premises are those he commonly interacts with during Filipino activities in the local or international scene.

“Another thing that has not changed is that the President has always been candid since his assumption in office is that he will always listen to the people,” Valte said.

“I’m pretty sure that when our countrymen who took part in the Filipino activities with the President in Madrid and in Brussels say something [he looks into it.] So, the President takes these opportunities to be able to know what’s on the mind of his constituents,” Valte said.

In reaction to public confusion arising from the President’s statements on term extension, Valte said even Palace officials have no idea what the President meant, washing off any imputation of knowledge on the President’s bid to extend his term.

“Well, you know some questions can’t be answered as quickly as the time we want them to be answered. But, you know, the benefit of hearing all these is hearing the President’s thoughts on certain matters which for the past times we have not had any insight to,” Valte said.

“No, I can tell you we don’t read between the lines, especially for the spokespersons. We always take our cue from the President and the President advises us on what positions to take, because essentially we are just echoing the President’s positions,” she added.

* Liberal Party (LP) secretary general Mel Senen Sarmiento added Aquino had said nothing about the issue.

Sarmiento, during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan media forum at the House of Representatives, stressed that the president was mum on the issue of term extension or on charter change that would lift the term limit for the presidential post.

“As of now, the president has said nothing about extending his term and we, for our part, are looking at the Constitution and respect the process,” Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento told reporters that the LP is looking at the resolution of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte that is seeking to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution. He, however, said that the party position on the matter will pass through a process.

Likewise, the party is going to consult with the people on the issue of the continuity of program of government without amending the Constitution whoever is the president.

Sarmiento noted that a change in the leadership changes the country’s vision.

“That’s probably the reason we’re heading nowhere,” the LP secretary general said.

He said that the LP wants to make sure that the next president would continue or improve upon the programs of President Aquino.

“There has to be a mechanism within the party to ensure that whoever replaces the President, even if that person is a partymate, continues with what has been started and probably improves upon them,” he said.

Now, he said, the party is focused on the remaining months of the administration on improving the economy.

Malacañang also dismissed opposition remarks on Aquino being a “lameduck,” saying that those behind the labeling are keen on getting back to the old ways of a corrupt government.

MANILA TIMES EDITORIAL

Second term a real possibility September 19, 2014 1:08 am

WE must continue to be vigilant and be ready to work against any moves to allow President Benigno Aquino 3rd to have a second term as president.

Section 4, Article VII of our Constitution limits the President to a single six-year term. The Constitution was drafted and approved under the authority of President Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino. She rejected attempts to give her more years as president.

It seems that Mr. Aquino and his men are really pursuing the possibility of extending his rule. This is apparent from the way the President keeps repeating the line that “he cannot ignore the will of his Bosses.”

The reasons he and his key allies in the Liberal Party and his closest associates in the Cabinet are bent on getting him to continue as president are, in a manner of speaking, a matter of life and death for them.

Politically, the Liberal Party is dead. This is because the people responsible for the gigantic instances of corruption and illegal and unconstitutional acts are among the LPs highest leaders, including President Aquino himself and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. In addition, the biggest recipients of hundreds of millions and even billions of the illegal funds of the Disbursement Acceleration Program are the pet projects of Liberal Party top officers, again notably Secretary Abad.

Morally and legally, President Aquino, Secretary Abad and several of the Cabinet members will surely be charged–when Mr. Aquino ceases to be president–with having committed corrupt acts, violations of the Constitution and various laws of the land. For sure, if the next president were a member of the opposition party, he or she would have to do his or her duty and file cases against President Aquino, Secretary Abad et al.

In fact, even if the next president were a Liberal Party man, including DILG Secretary Mar Roxas or even Senate President Drilon, just for example, he cannot be guaranteed to ignore the clamor of the people to prosecute Mr. Aquino, Mr. Abad and whoever else were more actively guilty of corrupt acts and criminal negligence during their years in the Palace.

That will surely be the case. It happened to the corrupt rulers and power holders in other countries, like South Korea and Indonesia, to name two whose political histories are more familiar to more Filipinos than other countries.

Therefore, it becomes really imperative for President Aquino, Secretary Abad and their closest collaborators, that Mr. Aquino should succeed himself for a second term or even for life.

The Constitution has to be amended to make that possible. And right now some congressmen–despite Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s announcements that he and the House leaders would only entertain proposed Charter amendments to make our country more attractive to foreign direct investors–are moving to repeal the Constitution’s term limits on the president and on legislators.

* In the recent Senate hearing about the proposed 2015 budget, when the budget for the Office of the President was being discussed, Senator Francis Escudero asked Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa about the possibility of the President running for second term or extending his term. Secretary Ochoa replied by repeating Mr. Aquino’s often-heard words that he would “listen to his Bosses.”

Senator Escudero then asked: “How do we find out what his Bosses want? I mean, short of holding a referendum?”

Ochoa did not reply. Later, when reporters pressed him about Senator Escudero’s question, Mr. Ochoa said it was something that had not been discussed in detail. But he was sure “the President ha[d] something in his mind that he c[ould] clarify when he comes back from his trip abroad.”

Former senator Joker Arroyo’s warning

We wish to repeat the warning former senator Joker P. Arroyo, one of our country’s most honest public figures, sent us early this month.

“The numbers game will be a repeat of the Corona impeachment trial. That trial started with the eight Articles of Impeachment from the House and was cut down to three Articles in the end.

“It was a long drawn-out continuous trial, 4-1/2 months, not because the presentation of evidence on both sides was necessary but because the Senate leadership had to drag it out until they were sure they had mustered the 16 votes, necessary to satisfy the 2/3 vote.

“Once the 16 votes were achieved, the trial was speeded-up and concluded. Final score 20-3. Watch out.”

One Response to Second term a real possibility
Nick says:
September 19, 2014 at 12:15 pm

BS Aquino and his KKK cronies must be trembling at the thought that they will surely be prosecuted and jailed for corruption and abuse of power if an opposition candidate becomes President in 2016. So they are now plotting on how to amend the Constitution without triggering a People Power Revolution that will cut short their good times pigging out on PDAF, DAP, Malampaya funds and the unaudited P1 Trillion Presidential Pork.
Two weeks ago, BS Aquino swore that there won’t be a second term for him. But since Mar Roxas has no chance at all at winning the Presidency, the “Bosses”, in reality just the cronies and advisers of Aquino, are now considering fielding BS again as their candidate and make him win through hocus-pocus PCOS.
Filipinos should stay vigilant and reject the machinations of Belmonte that CHA CHA will be limited to economic amendments. Just say no to the LP’s tinkering of the Constitution. Stop the rape of our Constitution by BS Aquino and his gang of thieves.
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