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PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

P-NOY: GMA DESERVES TO BE IN JAIL[Aquino stressed that success in fighting corruption is measured not just by the number of cases filed but by number of convictions.]


AUGUST 24 -President Aquino stressed that Arroyo’s plunder case is a non-bailable offense. He said granting Arroyo the privilege of house arrest would not sit well with the people and with future generations. File photo
Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo deserves to be in jail, President Aquino said yesterday. He was reacting to observations that a Supreme Court ruling allowing Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile to post P1.5 million bail can benefit Arroyo, who is herself seeking court approval of her petition to bail. He also disagreed with most of his Liberal Party allies in the House of Representatives, led by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., who signed a House resolution calling for the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to allow house arrest for Arroyo, who is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. Aquino, titular head and chairman of the ruling LP, theorized that being lawmakers and mostly male, his colleagues could have been persuaded into signing the resolution out of pity or respect, or they may have felt it was the gentlemanly thing to do. READ MORE...RELATED...

ALSO by Ricardo Saludo: On GMA’s petition --Will no one speak for Truth, Justice and Mercy?


AUGUST 24 -by RICARDO SALUDO What should we show society and most especially the next generation? "For me, what is important is, if you committed a crime, you must pay for it. ", President Benigno Aquino 3rd commenting on bail for his predecessor. What can moral figures and legal luminaries of the country say about President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s comments on the bail petition of former president Gloria Arroyo and the resolution of a House of Representatives bloc, including administration legislators, for the Sandiganbayan court to grant the Pampanga congresswoman house arrest? Do any of our Cardinals — Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Vidal, past and present Manila Archbishops Gaudencio Rosales and Luis Antonio Tagle, and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo --  find anything objectionable in Aquino’s views, especially on moral and Christian grounds? What about former Chief Justices Hilario Davide, Artemio Panganiban and Reynato Puno? Do they think it upholds justice and judicial independence for the Chief Executive to openly oppose petitions before the courts? Not to mention saying in so many words that an accused who is presumed innocent, has committed a crime and should pay for it. Two leading professional bodies would also be good to hear from. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines stands up for the rule of law and human rights. Do Aquino’s comments advance those IBP tenets? Then there is the Philippine Medical Association, the premier group of physicians. Is the PMA fine with Aquino’s misrepresentation of findings by both government and personal doctors that Arroyo’s delicate health would benefit from staying home with her family? These august personages and institutions probably missed Aquino’s latest Arroyo-bashing, or just dismissed it as a presidential quirk no amount of criticism can stop. But what about public morals, human life, law and justice? Should paragons of religion, law and medicine stay mum about President Aquino’s open opposition to Arroyo’s bail or house arrest, thus pressuring judges to deny what can greatly improve her health, alleviate her suffering, and even save her life? Plus truly serve justice. READ MORE...

ALSO: Bongbong on Marcos era: What am I to say sorry for?


AUGUST 26 -Senator Ferdinand ''Bongbong'' Marcos Jr. said he and his family have nothing to apologize for what happened during the regime of his father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Marcos, whose election to the Senate in 2010 marked the return of the Marcos clan to national politics, said the supposed progress experienced by the Philippines under his father outweighs the criticisms being lodged against him. "Kung meron akong sinaktan, I will always say sorry, but what I've been guilty of to apologize about?" Marcos told ANC's Headstart. ''Will I say sorry for the thousands and thousands of kilometers that were built? Will I say sorry for the agricultural policy that brought us to self-sufficiency in rice? Will I say sorry for the power generation? Will I say sorry for the highest literacy rate in Asia? What am I to say sorry about?'' Nonetheless, the younger Marcos said he and his family feel sorry for people who felt injustice during his father's time. "We have constantly said that if during that time of my father, mayroong mga nasagasaan or mayroong sinasabing hindi natulungan or they were victimized in some way or another, of course we're sorry that that happened. Nobody wants that to have happened. These are instances that have fallen through the cracks,'' he said. The elder Marcos was ousted from power in 1986 through a popular revolt triggered by the killing of Ninoy Aquino Jr., the father of President Benigno Aquino III. Asked if a possible bid for higher office is his way of vindicating his father, Marcos said, ''There's nothing I can do to change what my father did. If I was an absolutely brilliant, great senator and my father was a bad president, he would still be a bad president. If my father was a good president and I'm a terrible politician, it still would not change that." ''What I do is the work as I see it… History will judge him properly, and we'll leave it at that."  2016 PLANS Marcos said he is still weighing his options for the 2016 polls. He, however, noted that running for reelection is no longer in the discussions he is having with his friends in politics. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino hits Binay twice in Cebu
[Aquino said Binay is being blind (nagbubulagbulagan) to the support given by his administration to support government infrastructure projects in the province.]


AUGUST 24 -IN CEBU THIS WEEK, AQUINO, VP BINAY: Not once, but twice.
In his two speeches in Cebu City on Monday, Vice President Jejomar Binay received verbal jabs from President Benigno Aquino III. On Monday morning, Aquino took an apparent swipe against Binay whom he said is being blind to the support given by his administration to support government infrastructure projects in the province.“Problema lang po, ‘yung taong nagbubulag-bulagan, maski gaano kagandang salamin ibigay natin, wala pa ring makikita (The problem is, those who are pretending to be blind will not see anything even if you give them good glasses),” Aquino said.“Kaya kung siya ho ay gustong manirahan sa sarili niyang mundong siya ang lumikha, problema na po niya iyon. Pero paalala po natin, libre ang pagamot (If he insists on living in his fantasy world, that is his problem. However, we remind him that we give the cure for free),” the President added. The remark by Aquino was a response to Binay’s claim that due to the government’s negligence and failure to fund major infrastructure projects, Cebu province slipped in its ranking in the competitive index. Meanwhile, in the Cebu leg of the “Gathering of Friends” Monday afternoon where he endorsed Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II as his successor, Aquino hinted that Binay will derail the progress brought by “Daang Matuwid (straight path).” READ MORE...

ALSO VP slams Noy's selectivism: Under Noy, some provinces luckier than others[The Vice President said for the past years under an LP provincial leadership, Cebu continued to be neglected and deprived of its rightful share of the national funds. “Being callous and incompetent is not only reserved for the national administration but a scourge that the Liberal Party imposes even on the local level,” he said]


AUGUST 24 -VP BINAY IN CEBU: Under the Aquino govt, some provinces are luckier than others as a result of selective development based on partisan considerations, Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday. Binay added such was the case with Cebu where the national government failed to provide the province with its rightful share in national taxes and major infrastructure works in the last five years, Binay said. “What happened that resulted in Cebu falling in the competitive index of Philippine provinces from one to three? The national government’s fell short in its support to the province,” Binay said during his visit to Cebu.In the 2015 index, the province of Cebu got third place Misamis Oriental, second place; while Davao del Sur was awarded the most competitive province.The Vice President said one of the reasons cited for Cebu’s decline in the index was the absence of an infrastructure buildup.“There is a huge lack of infrastructure and as a result vehicle traffic ties up on major roads while floods are also frequent. Because of such neglect, businesses are affected and so are the work of ordinary residents in Cebu,” he said.
Binay slammed the selective treatment of the Liberal Party, saying under the present administration, some provinces are luckier than others. “Take for example the province of the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) secretary (Florencio Abad). For the last five years it has received billions in national funds, including the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and road users tax. Billions of pesos were infused by the DBM Secretary to his province of Batanes,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO PCIJ REPORT: Pork à la Gloria  ‘Kahindik-hindik’ (Horrible); Pork à la PNoy – ‘Unconscionable’ (Walang Awa)


AUGUST 17 -“KAHINDIK-HINDIK” or horrible in English, was how then Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan described the corruption in pork that her team of 18 COA Special Audits Office staff and a Technical Audit specialist uncovered when they scrutinized pork-barrel projects supposedly implemented from 2007 to 2009.
The special audit covered part of the last half of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, and Pulido-Tan’s rather colorful description of what had taken place had been prompted by her team’s findings: P79.878 billion of pork monies lost to wasteful spending, including P6.156 billion that went to 82 fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs) endorsed by 188 legislators for 772 fake projects designed for fake beneficiaries covered by fake receipts and reports. In recent weeks, COA has set off a series of annual audit reports (AARs) on government agencies, this time on how pork monies were spent during the first half of the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III. The reports do not present a pretty picture. They reveal how, in about a dozen public agencies that served as conduits of pork or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and other lump-sum funds from 2011 to 2013, COA has already recorded a continuing abuse and misuse of pork. ‘Unconscionable’ Curated, sorted, and analyzed by PCIJ, pages and pages of the COA AARs showed a trail of pork à la PNoy infected by the same corruption that marked the trail of pork à la Gloria. In fact, much like its former chief, COA itself in one of these reports chose a searing description for what has been going on under the present administration: “unconscionable” – walang awa in Filipino. COA’s Circular 2012-003 defines “unconscionable expenditures" as those that are “unreasonable and immoderate, and which no man in his right sense would make, nor a fair and honest man would accept as reasonable, and those incurred in violation of ethical and moral standards.” READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

P-Noy: GMA deserves to be in jail


FORMER PRESIDENT GLORIA ARROYO: President Aquino stressed that Arroyo’s plunder case is a non-bailable offense. He said granting Arroyo the privilege of house arrest would not sit well with the people and with future generations. File photo

CEBU CITY, AUGUST 31, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Delon Porcalla - Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo deserves to be in jail, President Aquino said yesterday.

He was reacting to observations that a Supreme Court ruling allowing Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile to post P1.5 million bail can benefit Arroyo, who is herself seeking court approval of her petition to bail.

He also disagreed with most of his Liberal Party allies in the House of Representatives, led by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., who signed a House resolution calling for the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to allow house arrest for Arroyo, who is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.

Aquino, titular head and chairman of the ruling LP, theorized that being lawmakers and mostly male, his colleagues could have been persuaded into signing the resolution out of pity or respect, or they may have felt it was the gentlemanly thing to do.

READ MORE...

But he added the information available to legislators may have been “inadequate.”

He said it is perfectly alright for Arroyo to remain at the VMMC and being under house arrest would not afford her greater leeway in addressing her medical issues.

“If she has no medical issue, then why keep her in a hospital?”

He stressed that Arroyo’s plunder case is a non-bailable offense. He said granting Arroyo the privilege of house arrest would not sit well with the people and with future generations.

He said there is appropriate punishment for every crime.

He stressed that success in fighting corruption is measured not just by the number of cases filed but by convictions.

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RELATED FROM INQUIRER

Arroyo hopeful, too, of getting out on bail @inquirerdotnet
08:29 PM August 24th, 2015


Rep Gloria Arroyo at her brother Art's wake few weeks ago.

HE lawyer of former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Arroyo is also hopeful that she would be granted bail for her plunder case after the Supreme Court (SC) allowed Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s temporary freedom.

In an interview on Monday, Atty. Laurence Arroyo (no relation) said the former president should also be given provisional liberty because she and Enrile share similar health conditions. He said Arroyo’s petition for certiorari filed in April before the Supreme Court to reverse the Sandiganbayan’s denial of her bail is similar to that of Enrile’s plea before the high court.

“I think it will help the petition of former president Arroyo which is also pending before the Supreme Court because I think they are similarly situated,” Atty. Arroyo said.

Atty. Arroyo said his client had also raised Arroyo’s frail health at age 68 and her not being a flight risk in her petition before the Supreme Court. “Based upon sa nabasa ko sa media that the Supreme Court allowed Senator Enrile’s bail on humanitarian grounds, number one because of his age and number two because of his frail health based upon the medical certification of government doctors, and number three that he is not a flight risk.

So all those three issues were raised in our own petition,” Atty. Arroyo said.

“Number one, (Arroyo) is already 68 years old, number two that she is not a flight risk, number three that government doctors have likewise certified as to her frail health, and number four, she’s undergone three major spinal surgeries,” he added.

Arroyo, who is under hospital detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) because of her cervical spondylosis, is facing plunder case over the alleged misuse of at least P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds for personal gain from 2008 to 2010.

Enrile posted bail last Friday after the SC in a vote of 8-4 granted Enrile’s motion to reverse the Sandiganbayan Third Division’s ruling which denied his bail plea. The high court noted Enrile’s frail health and not being flight risk at 91 years old.

 The decision came exactly a week after the SC sided with Enrile’s request for bill of particulars in his plunder case over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam. The high court set the bail amount for plunder at P1 million.

On top of the P30,000 bail for each of his 15 graft charges, Enrile paid a total amount of P1.45 million. In the ponencia of Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin (photo at left), the high court said Enrile’s political stature and frail health ruled out the possibility of him being a flight risk as he stands trial for plunder.

“With his solid reputation in both his public and his private lives, his long years of public service, and history’s judgment of him being at stake, he should be granted bail,” Bersamin’s ponencia said.

“The currently fragile state of Enrile’s health presents another compelling justification for his admission to bail, but which the Sandiganbayan did not recognize,” it added.

“In our view, his social and political standing and his having immediately surrendered … indicated that the risk of his flight or escape from this jurisdiction is highly unlikely.”

In his dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen (photo at right) said the majority decision to allow Enrile smacks of “selective accommodation” on a person because of his title and stature. “It is based on a ground—humanitarian— never before raised before the Sandiganbayan or in the pleadings filed before this court,” Leonen said.

He said the ruling also sets a dangerous precedent because ordinarily bail is not granted based on humanitarian grounds. Leonen said the decision “will usher in an era of truly selective justice not based on clear legal provisions, but one that is unpredictable, partial and solely grounded on the presence or absence of human compassion.”

He said while Enrile is ordered released, elder detainees continue to languish in cramped jails.

“For them, there are no special privileges. The application of the law to them is often brute, banal and canonical,” Leonen said.


MANILA TIMES COLUMN

On GMA’s petition: Will no one speak for Truth, Justice and Mercy? August 26, 2015 11:13 pm Ricardo Saludo


by RICARDO SALUDO

What should we show society and most especially the next generation? For me, what is important is, if you committed a crime, you must pay for it.

– President Benigno Aquino 3rd commenting on bail for his predecessor
What can moral figures and legal luminaries of the country say about President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s comments on the bail petition of former president Gloria Arroyo and the resolution of a House of Representatives bloc, including administration legislators, for the Sandiganbayan court to grant the Pampanga congresswoman house arrest?

Do any of our Cardinals — Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Vidal, past and present Manila Archbishops Gaudencio Rosales and Luis Antonio Tagle, and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo — find anything objectionable in Aquino’s views, especially on moral and Christian grounds?

What about former Chief Justices Hilario Davide, Artemio Panganiban and Reynato Puno? Do they think it upholds justice and judicial independence for the Chief Executive to openly oppose petitions before the courts? Not to mention saying in so many words that an accused who is presumed innocent, has committed a crime and should pay for it.

Two leading professional bodies would also be good to hear from. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines stands up for the rule of law and human rights. Do Aquino’s comments advance those IBP tenets? Then there is the Philippine Medical Association, the premier group of physicians. Is the PMA fine with Aquino’s misrepresentation of findings by both government and personal doctors that Arroyo’s delicate health would benefit from staying home with her family?

These august personages and institutions probably missed Aquino’s latest Arroyo-bashing, or just dismissed it as a presidential quirk no amount of criticism can stop.

But what about public morals, human life, law and justice? Should paragons of religion, law and medicine stay mum about President Aquino’s open opposition to Arroyo’s bail or house arrest, thus pressuring judges to deny what can greatly improve her health, alleviate her suffering, and even save her life? Plus truly serve justice.

READ MORE...

Consider this: The plunder conspiracy charge detaining Arroyo sans bail over allegedly misspent sweepstakes funds is weak, leading the Sandiganbayan to lift detention for all her co-accused. And even for the guilty, it violates both Christian morals and Philippine law if the state endangers his or her life, since we have no death penalty.

And imperil Arroyo is what continued detention does by denying her corrective surgery abroad, which is where she would rightly want it done after three unsatisfactory operations by topnotch specialists here in our country.

Speak up for truth, mercy, justice and rights

If our moral and legal lights fail to shine on this issue, then, to paraphrase Aquino’s remarks quoted above, what are we showing society and the next generation by just quietly accepting his affronts to Christian mercy, as well as to justice and truth?
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For starters, he wrongly portrayed house arrest as indicating Arroyo does not need hospital care. In fact, her physicians and those of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) hosting her agree that home stay with family and constituency would improve her health.



Given Arroyo’s life-threatening condition of a misaligned titanium implant in her neck possibly causing suffocation, it was both untruthful and unkind for Aquino to dissemble and ask, “If she has no medical issue, then why keep her in a hospital?”
Surely, religious leaders, at the very least, should admonish that it is false and uncharitable to misrepresent the true state of a detained, ailing 68-year-old woman who could die if food lodges in her throat due to the wayward implant protruding into it. That is the compassionate, truthful and Christian thing to do.

And the national association of physicians, if true to their oath to care for the sick, must correct the misimpression foisted by Aquino, concealing the consensus of attending doctors that home stay would greatly help Arroyo. The PMA must set this medical record straight.

Interfering with impunity

As for our esteemed Chief Justices and the legal community’s IBP, will they leave unremarked the insinuations by the President, whose appointing authority can sway judges, that the accused Arroyo is guilty?

Such silence has sadly abetted Aquino meddling and challenges to judicial processes and rulings since even before he became president. As candidate, he disputed the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision that the Constitution’s provision for a 90-day period to fill court vacancies, overrides its election ban on appointments.

In his first months in office, Aquino interfered with the six-year-old Oakwood Mutiny trial, ordering Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to withdraw evidence. When his first Executive Order creating the Philippine Truth Commission was ruled unconstitutional for targeting the past administration, Aquino launched his repeated attacks on judicial rulings.

That animosity escalated with his November 2011 rebuke of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, after High Court decisions lifting Secretary de Lima’s travel ban on the Arroyos and ordering the Hacienda Luisita of Aquino’s Cojuangco clan redistributed.

Then came the Malacañang-orchestrated Corona impeachment, with Aquino campaigning for Senate conviction and releasing billions of pesos in pork barrel for lawmakers supporting ouster. Plus the P157-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program, whose banning by the Supreme Court got Aquino publicly disputing the unanimous DAP decision.


P-NOY photo fuming over the Supreme Court killing the DAP


So legal luminaries understandably are resigned to endless Aquino meddling in court cases, defending allies (he bailed out two administration stalwarts in Sandiganbayan cases) and all but declaring opponents guilty.

No matter the weak plunder charge against Arroyo, rushed in 2012 after she won bail in a flimsy election sabotage case. The first panel of Ombudsman lawyers found no plunder, and the Sandiganbayan court exonerated or granted bail to co-defendants in the alleged conspiracy.

That should have led to bail for Arroyo, at least. But Aquino blocked it, even promising a High Court post, according to a veteran lawyer in the know.

With religious and justice personages and institutions largely silent over Arroyo’s treatment, it seems no one cares to stop the very powerful and vindictive bullying their way against truth, justice, morals and mercy. That’s the unjust and unchristian message for Filipinos.


ABS-CBN

Bongbong on Marcos era: What am I to say sorry for? Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 08/26/2015 2:26 PM | Updated as of 08/26/2015 4:08 PM 12.3K100

MANILA – Senator Ferdinand ''Bongbong'' Marcos Jr. said he and his family have nothing to apologize for what happened during the regime of his father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Marcos, whose election to the Senate in 2010 marked the return of the Marcos clan to national politics, said the supposed progress experienced by the Philippines under his father outweighs the criticisms being lodged against him.

"Kung meron akong sinaktan, I will always say sorry, but what I've been guilty of to apologize about?" Marcos told ANC's Headstart.

''Will I say sorry for the thousands and thousands of kilometers that were built? Will I say sorry for the agricultural policy that brought us to self-sufficiency in rice? Will I say sorry for the power generation? Will I say sorry for the highest literacy rate in Asia? What am I to say sorry about?''

Nonetheless, the younger Marcos said he and his family feel sorry for people who felt injustice during his father's time.

"We have constantly said that if during that time of my father, mayroong mga nasagasaan or mayroong sinasabing hindi natulungan or they were victimized in some way or another, of course we're sorry that that happened. Nobody wants that to have happened. These are instances that have fallen through the cracks,'' he said.

The elder Marcos was ousted from power in 1986 through a popular revolt triggered by the killing of Ninoy Aquino Jr., the father of President Benigno Aquino III.

Asked if a possible bid for higher office is his way of vindicating his father, Marcos said, ''There's nothing I can do to change what my father did. If I was an absolutely brilliant, great senator and my father was a bad president, he would still be a bad president. If my father was a good president and I'm a terrible politician, it still would not change that."

''What I do is the work as I see it… History will judge him properly, and we'll leave it at that."

2016 PLANS

Marcos said he is still weighing his options for the 2016 polls. He, however, noted that running for reelection is no longer in the discussions he is having with his friends in politics.

READ MORE...

(READ: Bongbong: Re-election no longer in discussions)

He said one of the things inspiring him to run for higher office is the supposed renewed support for the Marcos clan by people who said life was better during the time of his father.

''I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised that there are young people, some students and some who just entered the labor force, who say 'we are with you,''' he said.

''There has been this constant refrain: ''Buti pa nung panahon ni Marcos, maginhawa ang buhay. Buti pa nung panahon ni Marcos tinutulungan kami ng pamahalaan, maraming programa, maraming proyekto.' That is the general sentiment,'' he said.

BINAY-MARCOS TANDEM?


Marcos is Binay's top choice for VP FROM RAPPLER.COM

Marcos, meantime, said he is open to running alongside Vice President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance, even if the latter has not yet formally invited him.

(READ: Bongbong 'flattered' Binay is considering him as running mate)

''I'm open to anything at this point. This is Philippine politics and you cannot discount the possibility that the things that you didn’t imagine to happen would happen,'' he said.

Marcos added that he also met with another possible presidential contender, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, but there were no discussions on the possibility of them running together.

The tough-talking mayor has repeatedly said he has no plans of running for president in 2016.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

INQUIRER

Trillanes only 2nd in Magdalo poll for Veep; Escudero 1st  By: Leila B. Salaverria @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 04:26 AM August 26th, 2015


Senator Antonio Trillanes.
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

He ranked only second in a survey on vice presidential candidates conducted by his own Samahang Magdalo group, but Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said his standing was a “good starting point.”

“I’m happy where I am right now … compared to when I started in 2007, [at] practically zero,” said the senator, who was a bottom-dweller in recent surveys conducted by Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations, where he got 5 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Sen. Francis Escudero topped the Magdalo nationwide survey, with 53.8 percent of respondents favoring him as a vice presidential candidate over Trillanes, who was chosen by 22.6 percent of the respondents.

Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos was third with 16.2 percent, while Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Trillanes’ fellow Nacionalista Party (NP) member, was fourth with 5.3 percent. There was no answer from 2.1 percent of the respondents.

The Magdalo survey conducted from Aug. 11 to 13 involved 2,937 respondents—all non-Magdalo members—who were selected through a multistage probability sampling. The survey had a margin of error of 1.8 percent.


PHOTO OF Magdalo's Acedillo: Courtesy call of Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo 26 February 2014 FROM BONGBONG's Flicker photoalbum.

Magdalo Rep. Franciso Ashley Acedillo said the survey respondents were presented a scenario with four candidates who were perceived to be making plans to run for Vice President next year.

The survey question asked was: “If elections would be held today, who among the possible candidates would you vote for?”

In a statement, Acedillo said Magdalo had been conducting this survey since 2006 “as a tool for campaign planning and policymaking.”

The survey results showed that he needed to do a lot more to gain the trust of the people, Trillanes said, adding that he would intensify efforts to introduce himself to voters when the campaign season starts.

READ MORE...

The senator said he was determined to run for Vice President, even without a running mate and even without the support of the NP.

Poe ranking first

The Magdalo survey also showed Sen. Grace Poe as the most preferred presidential candidate, ranking first in the two scenarios tested by Magdalo.

In a field of 10 candidates, she would get 28.2 percent, followed by Vice President Jejomar Binay with 22.3 percent, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte with 16.2 percent and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas with 15 percent.

If only Poe, Binay and Roxas were to run, Poe would still rank first, followed by Binay. Roxas ranked third.

Trillanes said the Magdalo group, which had some 500,000 members, would support Poe should she run for President.

In a phone interview, Acedillo said that in conducting its survey, Magdalo tried to approximate the statistical rigor of the other professional survey firms to get an accurate political picture.

Otherwise, the group would miss the point of conducting the survey, which was to determine areas where (the group) is strong, where it is hitting a plateau, and which demographics it had to work on, said the Magdalo representative.


INQUIRER

Aquino hits Binay twice in Cebu @inquirerdotnet  05:55 PM August 24th, 2015

Not once, but twice.

In his two speeches in Cebu City on Monday, Vice President Jejomar Binay received verbal jabs from President Benigno Aquino III.

On Monday morning, Aquino took an apparent swipe against Binay whom he said is being blind to the support given by his administration to support government infrastructure projects in the province.

“Problema lang po, ‘yung taong nagbubulag-bulagan, maski gaano kagandang salamin ibigay natin, wala pa ring makikita (The problem is, those who are pretending to be blind will not see anything even if you give them good glasses),” Aquino said.

“Kaya kung siya ho ay gustong manirahan sa sarili niyang mundong siya ang lumikha, problema na po niya iyon. Pero paalala po natin, libre ang pagamot (If he insists on living in his fantasy world, that is his problem. However, we remind him that we give the cure for free),” the President added.

The remark by Aquino was a response to Binay’s claim that due to the government’s negligence and failure to fund major infrastructure projects, Cebu province slipped in its ranking in the competitive index.

Meanwhile, in the Cebu leg of the “Gathering of Friends” Monday afternoon where he endorsed Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II as his successor, Aquino hinted that Binay will derail the progress brought by “Daang Matuwid (straight path).”

READ MORE...

“Huwag nating kalimutan na hindi lahat ng gustong pumalit sa atin (ay) kasama natin sa daang matuwid. Sa kabilang banda, meron namang klarong-klaro na ang kanyang pinagsasabi ay taliwas sa ating daang matuwid. Na tila nga sabi ng iba ay nagsamantala lang sa pakikisama sa daang matuwid. Dagdag pa nila, yun daw limang taong kanyang pinapalakpakan ngayon ay tinatawag na niyang palpak,” Aquino said.

(Let us not forget that some who wants to succeed us is not part of the Daang Matuwid. On the other hand, there are those who are clearly against Daang Matuwid. Some say that he just benefitted from being an ally. They added that he is now attacking the administration he praised for the past five years.)

“Siguro naman wala ng papanig sa sisira rin lahat ng ginawa ng daang matuwid (I think that no one will side with those who will derail the gains of Daang Matuwid),” the President told the audience.

Binay became the administration’s staunchest critic after he resigned last June from the Cabinet posts he held for the past five years.

Like Aquino, Roxas and Senator Grace Poe, Binay was also in the vote-rich province of Cebu on Monday.

Despite being embroiled in a corruption scandal, Binay said that he would not back down in his pursuit of running for president in next year’s polls.


TRIBUNE

VP: Under Noy, some provinces luckier than others
Written by Tribune Wires Monday, 24 August 2015 00:00


VP BINAY

Under the Aquino administration, some provinces are luckier than others as a result of selective development based on partisan considerations, Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday.

Binay added such was the case with Cebu where the national government failed to provide the province with its rightful share in national taxes and major infrastructure works in the last five years, Binay said.

“What happened that resulted in Cebu falling in the competitive index of Philippine provinces from one to three? The national government’s fell short in its support to the province,” Binay said during his visit to Cebu.

In the 2015 index, the province of Cebu got third place Misamis Oriental, second place; while Davao del Sur was awarded the most competitive province.

The Vice President said one of the reasons cited for Cebu’s decline in the index was the absence of an infrastructure buildup.

“There is a huge lack of infrastructure and as a result vehicle traffic ties up on major roads while floods are also frequent. Because of such neglect, businesses are affected and so are the work of ordinary residents in Cebu,” he said.

Binay slammed the selective treatment of the Liberal Party, saying under the present administration, some provinces are luckier than others.

“Take for example the province of the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) secretary (Florencio Abad). For the last five years it has received billions in national funds, including the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and road users tax. Billions of pesos were infused by the DBM Secretary to his province of Batanes,” he said.

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“I am not saying that it is wrong to provide assistance to Batanes but the DBM should have its priorities right. Cebu is an international gateway and a major industrial and commercial center. Yet several major infrastructure projects remain in limbo. All promises but now with the term of the current administration ending next year, nothing has been fulfilled for Cebu,” he added.

The Vice President said for the past years under an LP provincial leadership, Cebu continued to be neglected and deprived of its rightful share of the national funds.

“Being callous and incompetent is not only reserved for the national administration but a scourge that the Liberal Party imposes even on the local level,” he said

“You would have assumed that since the provincial leadership is now in their hands, there would be no more reason to withhold support for Cebu but apparently, this is not the case,” he added.

The Vice President said the neglect Cebu is suffering from started because then Cebu governor Gwen Garcia did not belong to the Liberal Party.

“So what did they do? They did not give much attention to the Cebu province and they did all they can to remove from her position Governor Gwen. She was replaced by somebody who is a member of the LP,” he said.

“The people of Cebu continue to contribute to the national economy. And yet, the people and the localities of Cebu remain neglected and unable to get its rightful share of national funds,” he added.

Binay said should he be elected president, the Regional Development Council will be given a deadline to recommend priority infrastructure programs for Cebu.

“They should submit their recommendations within my first 100 days in office
and within that period, I will approve their recommendations and I will personally make sure that the programs and projects are implemented,” he said.

“There is also the issue of Cebu not getting its just share of revenues from the Mactan International Airport. Again, I Intend to ask Congress in my inaugural state of the nation address (SONA) to prioritize the approval of a bill that will increase the share of localities hosting international airports, seaports and vital facilities a bigger share of national taxes,” he added.

“Such projects are only appropriate because workers and people outside Metro Manila are those who mostly contributes to uplifting the national economy. It is but right that people outside the capital will be the first to benefit from what they have worked so hard for,” Binay added.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Pork à la Gloria – ‘Kahindik-hindik’; Pork à la PNoy – ‘Unconscionable’ August 17, 2015 1:29pm Tags: dap, pdaf, coa By MALOU MANGAHAS, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism First of a series

“KAHINDIK-HINDIK” or horrible in English, was how then Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan described the corruption in pork that her team of 18 COA Special Audits Office staff and a Technical Audit specialist uncovered when they scrutinized pork-barrel projects supposedly implemented from 2007 to 2009.

The special audit covered part of the last half of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, and Pulido-Tan’s rather colorful description of what had taken place had been prompted by her team’s findings: P79.878 billion of pork monies lost to wasteful spending, including P6.156 billion that went to 82 fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs) endorsed by 188 legislators for 772 fake projects designed for fake beneficiaries covered by fake receipts and reports.

In recent weeks, COA has set off a series of annual audit reports (AARs) on government agencies, this time on how pork monies were spent during the first half of the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The reports do not present a pretty picture. They reveal how, in about a dozen public agencies that served as conduits of pork or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and other lump-sum funds from 2011 to 2013, COA has already recorded a continuing abuse and misuse of pork.

‘Unconscionable’

Curated, sorted, and analyzed by PCIJ, pages and pages of the COA AARs showed a trail of pork à la PNoy infected by the same corruption that marked the trail of pork à la Gloria. In fact, much like its former chief, COA itself in one of these reports chose a searing description for what has been going on under the present administration: “unconscionable” – walang awa in Filipino.

COA’s Circular 2012-003 defines “unconscionable expenditures" as those that are “unreasonable and immoderate, and which no man in his right sense would make, nor a fair and honest man would accept as reasonable, and those incurred in violation of ethical and moral standards.”

CONTINUE READING...

In addition, several COA agency reports noted that despite explicit advisory from the Supreme Court to stop the disbursement of PDAF by September 2013, multimillion pesos of pork monies were still released, while the fund balance for projects not yet covered by Notices of Cash Allocation (NCA) were not reverted to the Treasury, by a number of pork-conduit agencies and legislators.

For sure many Filipinos had wanted to believe that the Aquino government’s much-touted “daang matuwid (straight path)” pledge would mean, among other things, the prudent use of state funds for projects. At the very least, they probably expected that the findings of the voluminous COA special audit report on pork disbursed from 2007 to 2009 would no longer be found in similar reports covering Aquino’s term.

Arroyo era findings

Released on Aug. 16, 2013, the COA special audit report on corruption in pork under Arroyo noted in part:

About P79.878 billion in PDAF and its “hard projects” component called Various Infrastructure Including Local Projects (VILP) from 2007 to 2009 “were not properly released” and documented by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The funds coursed through seven government corporations and agencies, and 14 local government units (LGUs) were “not appropriately, efficiently, and effectively utilized.” Ten agencies moved the monies to 82 NGOs illegally, or “without any appropriation law or ordinance.”

The NGOs and their suppliers could not be located at their listed addresses, had no addresses or only fake addresses, or were located in shanties and residential homes.

Legislators themselves and/or their relatives were incorporators of six of the 82 NGOs; several others had the same officers or interlocking directorates.

The pork projects of these NGOs had ghost beneficiaries, or the same beneficiaries attending two or more project events held on the same day at different locations. One NGO had even submitted “the same list of beneficiaries to two different agencies, and/or a list of beneficiaries taken from the published list of board/bar examination passers for various professions.”

These NGOs and their suppliers had none to negligible equity and gross sales; many had no business permits, registration papers, or track record; several used the same taxpayer identification numbers and issued fake or irregular receipts. Yet still, they secured from P300,000 to P585.4 million or pork funds because they had legislators as “sponsors” and the projects were not subjected to bidding.

About P1.531 billion of pork funds transferred to 55 NGOs “remained completely unliquidated” as of 2013, when the COA report went public, “including P28.605 million for the conduct of three studies which were not at all used.” The liquidation documents submitted by the rest of the NGOs “were found in audit to be deficient or otherwise irregular.”

Aquino era findings

PCIJ’s review of COA’s latest agency audit reports reveals that the same patterns of abuse and misuse of pork funds have lingered on under the Aquino government. These took place even in agencies headed by those considered as trusted allies of the President.

For instance, in the Department of Agriculture (DA) under Secretary Proceso Alcala, a Liberal Party stalwart and close Aquino friend, COA found that the implementation of PDAF projects was “ineffective” because:

In the National Livelihood and Development Corporation (NLDC), an agency attached to the DA that had been linked to the Napoles pork-barrel scam, “nine livelihood projects in the total amount of P235 million funded from the PDAF of seven legislators, which were implemented by four NGOs, were found to be unconscionable as names from published list of board examination passers were used as supposedly beneficiaries of the projects.”

“Checks, together with supporting disbursement vouchers (DVs) and documents totaling P301.505 million for CYs 2010 and 2011, were not submitted to the Audit Team, contrary to the provisions of Section 100 of Presidential Decree (PD) 1445, hence, prevented the Team from completing the audit of all PDAF disbursements made during the period.”

“NAFC (National Agriculture and Fisheries Council), a government council, was given fund transfers of ?199,400,000 in CY 2012 through the endorsements of legislators, for the implementation of various livelihood projects the purposes of which are not within the mandate and functions of the Council.”

“Provision of additional fund transfers to NABCOR (National Agribusiness Corp.) of ?5,000,000 in CY 2011 out of PDAF despite the absence of Progress or Status Reports on the implementation of various projects funded out of DA funds, and liquidation of previous fund transfers to the agency.”

“Unclear approved guidelines on the monitoring, validation, and evaluation of the projects by DA representatives, which caused the delay or non-submission of the required reports to determine the progress of the projects.”

“Non-compliance with pertinent laws and regulations in the awarding of contracts to NGOs/POs.”

“Questionable utilization and implementation by the NGOs/POs for (sic) PDAF projects.”

“Non-submission of assessment report by DA representatives for PDAF projects already completed.”

“The total reported balance of the accounts Due from NGAs/GOCCs/LGUs, NGOs/POs charged to PDAF funds as of year-end amounting to ?1,151,534,853.82 cannot be relied upon due to the (a) inclusion of long outstanding/dormant balances of ?972,193,603.82 aged more than one year to over five years, the purposes of which were deemed to have already been completed/terminated considering their ages; and (b) recorded liquidations and write-off of accounts totaling ?271,161,500 were not supported with documentation.”

TESDA’s billions

In the Technology and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) headed by Director General Joel Villanueva, another close friend and political ally of Aquino, COA observed:

In 2013, “out of the total budget of P2,393,733,631.00 for 261,865 targeted scholars for the implementation of TESDA’s Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP) and Cash for Training Program (C4TP), a total of P2,101,620,243.56 was utilized with 234,223 graduates/on-going trainees, thereby leaving an unutilized fund of P292,113,387.44.” TESDA failed to achieve its target 27,642 scholarship slots “due to the absence of Qualification Maps (QMs), which impact on the allocation of scholarship funds to provide opportunities for employment.”

TESDA has yet to revert the unexpended cash balance of over P292 million to the National Treasury, COA said.

“Inadequate monitoring on the implementation of training programs resulted in various deficiencies such as: a) absence of mandatory assessment of 481 scholars out of 623 sampled scholars; b) payment of training cost of P582,500.00 for 127 scholars who did not complete the required training hours; c) improper selection of beneficiaries; and d) non-compliance on 25 scholars per batch/session with one instructor, thereby affecting the objective of the training programs to fill up the skills gap of gainful employment.”

Of the total PDAF worth P125,952,200 coursed through TESDA in 2013, only “P92,177,215.11 was disbursed, P12,986,674.89 (was) for unbilled trainings, P1.5 million was reverted” and P19,288,310 has yet to be returned to the National Treasury.

Of the P1.3 billion TESDA received in CY 2012 under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide technical education and skills development to the disadvantaged youth, P1.1 billion was disbursed, and P200 million was not utilized. “As of May 2013, only 19,243 were trained out of the targeted 47,167 trainees, which resulted in the delay of the implementation and extension of the project to December 31, 2013.”

Furthermore, deficiencies were noted in the implementation of the said program due to lapses of the procedures as required under TESDA Circular No. 33 series of 2012.

“Post-audit of the paid disbursement vouchers under PDAF, showed that there are two or more batches/courses conducted with 33 to 76 scholars in the same place, day, and time, and two or more batches conducted on the same day and time but in different locations with only one or the same instructor/trainer in violation of the above mentioned TESDA Circular No. 17 and Section 3.5 of the Training Regulations.”

“Post-audit of the paid disbursement vouchers under PDAF, showed that there are two or more batches/courses conducted with 33 to 76 scholars in the same place, day, and time, and two or more batches conducted on the same day and time but in different locations with only one or the same instructor/trainer” in violation of TESDA’s own circulars.

Not indigents only

The state auditors also found problems with the Department of Health (DOH) and public hospitals supposedly accommodating indigent patients with financial assistance from legislators. It cited “lapses in the grant, release and distribution of financial assistance out of the PDAF amounting to P56.103 million” that it said “cast doubts on the propriety and veracity of such transactions/payments, (and) hence, may result in the suspension/disallowance in audit.”

This total amount was meant to support a program for indigent patients sponsored by 20 legislators. According to COA, however, the “lapses” included:

The lack of a proper Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between eight of the 20 legislators with the public hospitals to support the use of the allocated funds. Said COA: “The signed MOAs were undated. Indicated therein were always the date when it was notarized.”

“Two SAROs [Special Allotment Release Orders] no longer issued NCAs by DBM as it has been overtaken by the SC Decision declaring PDAF as unconstitutional were obligated to purchase of reagents (P1 million) from Sta. Ana Enterprises per DV No. 13-10-2009, as proposed by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.”

The fund of four legislators registered in the program had negative balances but were not replenished; moreover, the fund was used “beyond validity period.”

“Three (3) beneficiaries were granted the amount of P100,000 and more, while 21 were given P50,000 each, representing reimbursement of the cost of medicines and hospital expenses from private hospitals, hence, only few patients were benefitted.”

“Financial assistance was also granted several times to beneficiaries ranging from P2,000 to P50,000 for reimbursement of the cost medicines and hospital expenses from private hospitals. At least 25 sales invoices/ORs attached to the claims were tampered and with erasures while 83 of the ORs were unreadable/faded.”

“Purchases of drugs and medicines intended for indigent patients were not in accordance with the proper mode of procurement, as provided under R.A. (Republic Act) 9184. The only documents attached to the vouchers are the official receipt/sales invoices in the name of the patient beneficiaries. The required documents were also not attached to support the claims for financial assistance/reimbursements of the drugs and medicine and hospital charges.

Lapses in CHED, too

COA was apparently not impressed as well with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), which is administering the Students Financial Assistance Program (StuFAP) for scholars that legislators may only endorse – but which the CHED should screen and select – under PDAF in 2012 and the so-called amended pork system in 2013. In many cases, however, the legislators managed to impose their choice of scholars, as well as the amount of grant money they should receive. For example, the state auditors noted:

In 2012, “the selection, screening, awarding and determination of the amount of the grant to each student beneficiary, which are normally functions of the CHED – Office of Student Services/Regional Scholarship Unit, were entrusted to the Office of the Legislator thru a MOA in the CHED-CO and the CHED-NCR, (and) thus resulted in the granting of financial assistance ranging from P16,000 to P110,000 per semester per grantee, which are more than the maximum allowable benefit of P15,000.00 per semester given by CHED to Full Merit scholars, per CMO No. 29; and the absence of undertaking between the CHED and the student grantee assuring the continuity of the educational assistance until they graduate, which is presently done in scholarship programs regularly funded under the GAA (General Appropriations Act) and HEDF (Higher Education Development Fund).”

In 2012, “claims totaling P112,638,412.43 were not supported with adequate documentation such as ITR [income tax return], students’ grades, etc., or documents submitted were not authenticated in CHED-CO and CHEDROs NCR and V, contrary to Section 61 of PD 1445, thus failing to ensure that the grantees are qualified beneficiaries of the scholarship program.”

In 2012, “checks totaling P18,840,038.60 were released by the Cashiers of CHED-CO and CHEDROs NCR and IV-A to persons other than the payees/student – grantees, contrary to Section 3.1 of COA Circular No. 2004-006 dated September 9, 2004, failing to ensure that the educational benefits were received by the students and on time.”

“Delayed processing/release of claims ranging from one month to 17 months and unclaimed/cancelled/stale checks totaling P11,264,376.95, in nine CHEDROs deprived the qualified student beneficiaries timely receipt of the financial assistance and entailed additional cost to CHED, in terms of reprocessing of claims and replacement of stale checks.”

In 2012, “the processing and awarding of double/multiple scholarship slots to 63 students were not immediately detected and cancelled, thus, depriving other qualified students to avail (themselves) of the allocated slots to CHEDRO VI.”

In 2013 in CHED-NCR, claims for admission in the StuFAP funded by pork “were forwarded in bulk to the CHED-NCR by the OSDS, CHEDCO, from the Office of the Legislators.” But because only three work-swamped personnel were assigned to review these, “control measures like verification/indexing of payments and sorting to detect double/multiple payments were no longer done, as they have to rush the processing of claims to avoid the monthly reversion of the NCAs and to comply with the timelines set by the CHED guidelines.” The workload was “really beyond the absorptive capacity of the office” and “some double claims were noted and (CHED) made the appropriate cancellation of the subsequent checks.”

In 2013, the CHED-Central Office had “insufficient documents to warrant the validity of payables amounting to P19,637,287.88, claims outstanding for more than two years of P1,956,762.70 and the obligated balance of P14,008,420.00 at year-end of the PDAF of legislators for scholarship program, which was declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.”

In 2013, at CHED-Region IX, CHEDRO-IX, there were “claims of 2,748 students without adequate documentation of P26,024,787.77, unutilized PDAF without NCAs of P654,000.00 and the unutilized Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) Fund of P60,000.00 with lapsed NCAs and without valid claimants.”

High court TRO

On top of all these, COA has pointed to another unsettled issue: how much of the balance of pork monies in 2012 and 2013 had actually been reverted to the Treasury, in compliance with a Supreme Court directive?

On Sept. 10, 2013, the high court en banc, in a unanimous decision, had issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the disbursement of pork. Separate petitions filed against Aquino, Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. by several individuals and private organizations had triggered the court’s decision.

On Nov.19, 2013, or more than two months later, the Supreme Court (SC) reversed two prior rulings upholding the constitutionality of pork and ruled to expunge PDAF from the national budget. Voting 14-0 with one abstention, the high court declared “the entire 2013 PDAF Article” and all legal provisions behind its prior incarnations – Countrywide Development Fund and Congressional Initiatives Allocation – to be unconstitutional.

It noted that the pork system “authorized lawmakers, individually or through committees, to intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution, such as project identification, modification and revision of project identification, fund release, and/or fund realignment.”

The Court directed “all prosecutorial organs of government to, within the bounds of reasonable dispatch, investigate and accordingly prosecute all government officials and/or private individuals for possible criminal offenses related to the irregular, improper and/or unlawful disbursement/utilization of all funds under the Pork Barrel System.”

Halt, return funds

The September 2013 TRO turned permanent and mandatory with the court’s ruling in November 2013. Yet by the Court’s TRO, the disbursement of pork funds should have already stopped; beginning Sept. 10, 2013, funds for projects covered only by SAROs and not by NCAs should have been reverted to the Unappropriated Surplus of the General Fund.

But confusion ensued among pork conduit agencies about what to do with projects already under way, even as some agencies and legislators went on with their merry ways with pork.

In truth, several agency audit reports done by COA for 2013 reveal that some agencies and lawmakers defied the high court’s orders, by acts of omission and commission.

For one, according to COA reports, TESDA alone has yet to return to the Treasury about half a billion pesos in unutilized, unobligated tax money. According to COA, these include P292 million of the P2.4-billion budget for its Training for Work Scholarship Program and Cash for Training Program in 2013; P19.3 million of the P126-million PDAF monies it got in 2013; and P200 million of the P1.3 billion DAP funds it received from DSWD in 2012.

COA also documented similar lapses in a number of regional offices of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), including one where “expenditures amounting to P18,652,689.81 relating to PDAF projects were paid while the unutilized PDAF of P46,520,960.42 were not reverted to the Unappropriated Surplus of the General Fund, in violation of the Supreme Court Decision declaring PDAF as unconstitutional.”

The incidents happened despite two memoranda – one dated Sept. 16, 2013 and the other Dec. 9, 2013 – from DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson spelling out clear guidelines to regional and field personnel on what to do with pork-funded projects.

The DPWH memorandum in September stated: “In view of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court on the release of PDAF allocations and on the instruction of the Department of Budget and Management, there shall be no obligation for projects funded from PDAF under FY 2012 and FY 2013 General Appropriations Act starting from September 10, 2013 until the TRO is lifted. Hence, if the allotment has not been obligated as of September 10, 2013, it is covered by the TRO. If the projects are contracted out before September 10, 2013, implementation can proceed accordingly.”

DPWH reiterated the policy in December: “You are hereby directed to suspend all ongoing projects funded by PDAF and not to cause payment of any accomplishment thereof, pursuant to the Supreme Court decision Greco Antonius Beda B. Belgica et al. versus Honorable Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa et al. G.R. Nos. 208566, 208493 and 209251 promulgated November 19, 2013.”

Meanwhile, at the Department of Education, state auditors found that an unobligated PDAF balance of P9,559,136.03 for 2012 was not reverted. The CHED, however, issued a check on August 27, 2014 for P14.2 million to revert the payables set up for the Student Financial Assistance Program funded by PDAF in 2013, in compliance with the Supreme Court decision.

In defense of pork

For all these, it seems like the last man standing in favor of pork, other than the legislators themselves, has been President Aquino himself.

A congressman and senator before he rose to the presidency, Aquino had at first stood firm in defense of pork amid strong public clamor for its abolition. Three days after COA had made public its special audit report on pork disbursed in 2007-2009, Aquino even told reporters: "I think the premise (of people who want it abolished) is that all the ways pork barrel is used are wrong. But if you look at the COA report, I don't think that's the case. “There are some ways it was wrongly used but those cases, we investigate. There's a case now against Mrs. (Janet Lim) Napoles, there's a warrant of arrest against her for something somewhat related to (the pork barrel).”

"Maybe what we should do,” Aquino continued, “is that those who misuse the pork barrel should really face more serious punishment.”

He said that his government had already made “huge improvements in safeguards that have lessened the chances pork barrel can be misused, but I think there are more ways we can improve the process so there would be no opportunities to take advantage of them."

"I think it's difficult to generalize and say the whole system is wrong,” the President said. “What's just is to scrutinize how it was used. If it's right, we support it, if it's wrong then we stop and ensure it won't happen again.”

But more and more people appeared to be pushing for the government to rid itself of pork altogether, and a “Million People March” against PDAF was scheduled to take place in Luneta on Aug. 26, 2013.

New, improved pork?

On Aug. 23, 2013, Aquino faced the nation to finally declare, “Panahon na po upang i-abolish ang PDAF (It’s now time to abolish PDAF).” Yet in the next breath, he talked about a new mechanism that seemed to smell and sound like pork, as well as how legislators may still endorse projects for funding by five executive agencies, according to his “mga patakaran laban sa katiwalian” or rules against corruption.

These include, he said, a limited menu of projects that could be funded; a ban on “soft” projects or “consumables” like fertilizers, seedlings, medical kits, medicines, training materials, etc.; a ban on short-term infrastructure projects; a ban on coursing pork through the state entities and NGOs linked to the Napoles pork-barrel scam; open bidding and online posting of project documents; and monitoring of project implementation via the website of the Budget department and the National Data Portal.

Apparently, to the President, the pork system ain’t broke, it just needs a little fixing. – With research and reporting by Vino Lucero, Rowena F. Caronan, and Fernando Cabigao, PCIJ, August 2015


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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