MANILA STANDARD EDITORIAL/OPINION

EDITORIAL: MOST UNPRESIDENTIAL PRESIDENT 

President Benigno Aquino III cannot blame his critics for pointing out that he is perhaps the most unpresidential president who ever walked the halls of Malacañang. His reaction to the New York Times editorial on how he should never fancy a second term betrays all his pretensions to being a statesman. He said the newspaper did not know what it was talking about. The opinion piece must have pained him; he believed he was the darling of the international press.

But between the New York Times and Aquino, we’d take the former’s word anytime. At least it does not shift wildly, as though it were two different entities speaking from the body of one. And true enough, in a subsequent interview, Mr. Aquino tried to assure Filipinos that he really was not getting high with the thought of a second term in office. It’s his bosses who feel that way, he insists, because they feel the reforms he has introduced should be seen through to the end. Contrast this behavior with that of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who in a press conference last week said she would speak no ill of the Chief Executive who wants the Judiciary’s power of judicial review clipped. The third branch, he says, has been overreaching itself. *READ MORE...

ALSO Opinion: Binay is it!  

I am not from Makati. I have, however been practicing law from Makati for the past 25 years. Surely, I have had enough experience with the City to conclude that while not claiming to be a saint, unlike many in this administration, Jejomar Binay is still the best leader to steer this country into the path of genuine and relevant economic growth and democracy. My admiration for him begins from having known him as my mother’s favorite student in Pasay City High School. While he has lived in Makati for a very long time, he studied high school in Pasay. My mother never ran out of good things to say about the man, He was apparently very poor as a student that my mother and my grandmother, herself a public school teacher, took him under their protective fold not just in school, but even outside of school. My mother would tell me that Jojo was actually her eldest son. An orphan, he obviously brought out my mother’s maternal instinct to the point that Jojo’s many achievement became the proud moments for my mom as well.

But beyond the very parochial reason that Jojo Binay was my mom’s absolutely favorite student in her 55 years or so of teaching, I also admired him particularly during the trying anti-Marcos days. Then a renowned human right lawyer, Jojo was fearless in fighting for the restoration of democracy during one of the darkest moments of our history. His convictions did not go unnoticed. This was why former President Corazon Aquino appointed him Officer in Charge for Makati. This was also why initially, the residents of the country’s financial district gave him a mandate to rule. But the Cory magic could not have lasted long. Remember that like the son PNoy, she was initially everyone’s darling. She left office with one of the lowest acceptance levels of any President since the onslaught of public opinion surveys.

The fact therefore is that Jojo Binay has been in control of Makati, either because he (or his kin) was or his kin mayor of the City, or he did a lot of good to the City. Yes, it had been the financial district even before he became mayor. But it was during his stay in office that the people of Makati actually benefitted from the financial growth of the city. This, we hope, is something that he can duplicate nationally for six years, beginning in 2016.

For instance, notice the proliferation of classrooms in the city. Notice how big the city’s college has become. Notice that in primary schools, the city’s children have been fed, a fete which the national government has not replicated. Then, there’s the now-famous yellow card that has enabled the city’ s poor to avail of quality medical care even from private hospitals that cater only to the rich. His developmental model is obviously patterned after Europe: encourage financial development so the rich can be taxed high. Use the tax revenues, in turn, to deliver basic services to the people. And, lest we forget, Makati beat the rest of the nation in according our elders simple but much appreciated privileges—from free movies to the birthday caked that his detractors now want to demonize. *READ MORE...

ALSO Opinion: Jailing Binay   

Rambotito should dig up his flack jacket and prepare to go to war again. The long knives of his tormentors, I’ve been told, are about to be unsheathed. A source with close ties to Malacañang Palace has revealed that the current game plan of a powerful faction in the Aquino administration is to throw Vice President Jejomar Binay in jail, possibly by the end of the year. The plot against Binay was virtually confirmed by an informant in the Vice President’s camp, who said that they are expecting impeachment charges to be filed soon against the country’s second-highest official, currently the runaway leader in popularity surveys. If these reports are true, then President Noynoy Aquino is in dire danger of falling into the trap laid out for him by his Liberal Party Politburo, which is desperately seeking a way to foist Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas upon the unwitting voting population as the anointed successor of the current Chief Executive.

The LP leadership, which apparently believes that it has Aquino’s ear exclusively, wants to remove Binay physically from the political landscape to prevent him from going around the country campaigning, something the party’s leaders think will greatly improve the chances of Roxas. Of course, jailing Binay—who has not seen the inside of a cell since the Marcos years, when he was a much-arrested human-rights lawyer and street parliamentarian—is easier said than done. After all, at the height of its great powers, the Arroyo administration wasn’t even able to unseat Binay from Makati City Hall on trumped-up administrative charges that it filed; Binay is definitely not going to allow his in-house foes to do the same to him, when he is already a heartbeat from the presidency and nominally still allied with the palace. Certainly, the anti-Binay plot will be jettisoned if Aquino is roused from his LP-induced stupor and puts his foot down.

But until Aquino does that, the Roxas faction in Malacañang will continue to operate as if it has the President’s go-ahead—which, at the moment, I still very much doubt has been given, tacitly or not. But the get-Binay plotters see encouragement in the fact that Aquino has not yet openly declared if he is for Binay or for Roxas. Aquino may just be dangling withholding his endorsement —and even floating options like a second term, which is being pushed by the lunatic fringe of his much-reduced mass base —to avoid becoming a total lame duck and alienating allies in either the Binay or the Roxas faction; but until he decides, it seems that the demolition of the Vice President will continue as plotted. At this point, just a little over a year until the 2016 elections, there is no strategy to elect Roxas that will be discarded by his boosters—never mind if his survey numbers seem fated never to go into double-digit territory. *READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: Failed welfare program 

Conditional cash transfer programs, as in other parts of the world, aim to break the cycle of poverty by generally improving the lot of poor families through education and raising household income. Their effectiveness, however, is subject to debates and can only be generally measured by data from the Social Welfare Department showing a reduction in the poverty level over a period of time. The CCT is a notable program when the recipients of the cash fairly abide by the conditions, such as enrolling their children in public schools and getting regular check-ups that lead to improved health and nutrition. But the program is a failure if it merely serves as a dole in exchange for political favors, without regard to the original objective of breaking the poverty cycle. The program is also a bust when state funds allotted for it end up in other agencies that have nothing to do with the task of poverty alleviation. Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. challenged Malacañang the other day to prove its claim that the conditional cash transfer program had been a success. *READ MORE...

ALSO Opinion: Pulling down an innocent man  

This column truly wonders whether those people in the Commission on Audit are escapees from the national psychiatric hospital or are raving mad dogs unleashed by this pretending-to-be-honest government to make sure it will have company once it is banished by the people. This column is inclined to believe this because of that news item implicating Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to that scam of looting government funds through the practice of bribing members of Congress through their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and through that Florencio “Butch” Abad formula called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The news item which appeared in a broadsheet identified as rabidly pro-administration stated that “the Commission on Audit has disapproved for being “illegal and irregular” the P10 million channeled by Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to a livelihood project in Nakar, Quezon province, though a foundation headed by pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.” The news added that, “a notice of disallowance was issued by COA audit team leader Romeo B. Limara and supervising auditor Wilhelmina R. Cabuhat to Nakar Mayor Leovegildo R. Ruzol on June 30, ordering the return of Marcos’ P10 million, which was drawn from the Priority Development Assistance Find (PDAF) and transferred to Luy’s Social Development Program for Farmer’s Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) for the implementation of a project called “organic farming for high value crops.”

Accordingly, the disallowance was issued because “the SDPFFI’s physical and legal existence was questionable” as its address on its local government and tax registration certificates was a residential house at South City Homes in Binan Town, Laguna province (the same village where Napoles lived before she moved to Ayala Alabang).” Surely, the COA audit team knows they are doing a demolition job to soften the impact that has caused serious damage to the image of President Aquino. This observation is most evident for even if Senator Marcos was allocated P65 million for his so-called PDAF in 2012, which many suspected was a bait to entrap him, that amount was however never physically turned over to him. That logically explains why Senator Marcos could not have gotten the P10 million or could have turned over an amount he did not receive in the first place.

The problem is that the same press release states that the PDAF supposedly allocated to Senator Marcos was transferred to Luy’s bogus farmer’s foundation. How that happened should be the starting point in COA’s investigation, for it is possible that he confederated with some people in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in defrauding the government. In fact, the finger pointing is indicative that Luy may have already pocketed and spent the money, which reason why he has been pointing to innocent people to deflect public suspicion of him as the principal suspect. Those loonies in COA cannot directly demand from Senator Marcos and Mayor Ruzol the return of the money unless they have in their hands supporting documents indicating that indeed Luy turned over said funds to them other than the whistleblower’s self-serving assertion. That claim of having turned over P10 million to the Mayor of Nakar has to be proven in court because it is he, and not the two, who stands as accused of defrauding the government of its funds. *CONTINUE READING...

ALSO Another editorial: Undermining independence  

It’s a contradiction, really, when a supposedly independent constitutional commission like the Commission on Audit has to present its budget and wait for other officials to decide on it, by whim or in spite.
The COA had sought appropriations of P8.162 billion for 2015, representing 0.31 percent of the total national budget of P2.61 trillion. Of this amount, P838 million is supposed to go to capital outlay. Such expenses include construction of satellite offices and acquisition of a database. According to COA officials, they need to have satellite offices when auditing agencies in the provinces. Without their own offices, state auditors are left with no choice other than to do their work in the premises of the very agencies they are auditing. This situation breeds conflict of interest because the entity being audited is doing the auditor a favor.

Another capital outlay envisioned is a database that would allow easy access to reports historical and current. As it is, the absence of an information depository makes it difficult for COA officials themselves to retrieve files when these are needed. The public, more so. These plans may have to be recast, however, because the Department of Budget and Management, upon the budget’s transmittal to Congress, had slashed the capital outlay item to P405,000—less than 5 percent of the original amount sought. There may be a hundred reasons for the budget cut. It could be that the COA, at the center of the pork barrel investigations, has found that dozens of officials may have channeled their priority development allocations to dubious organizations. The list includes allies and supporters of the President as well, although charges have only been filed against those in the opposition. Whatever the reason, COA by virtue of its mandate deserves to be enabled to do its job well and without interference. It’s a shame that this administration believes then when an agency asserts its independence, it is overreaching. So much for checks and balances, or even simply performing an agency’s duty.THIS IS THE FULL EDITORIAL.


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Most unpresidential
 

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) President Benigno Aquino III cannot blame his critics for pointing out that he is perhaps the most unpresidential president who ever walked the halls of Malacañang.

His reaction to the New York Times editorial on how he should never fancy a second term betrays all his pretensions to being a statesman. He said the newspaper did not know what it was talking about. The opinion piece must have pained him; he believed he was the darling of the international press.

But between the New York Times and Aquino, we’d take the former’s word anytime. At least it does not shift wildly, as though it were two different entities speaking from the body of one.

And true enough, in a subsequent interview, Mr. Aquino tried to assure Filipinos that he really was not getting high with the thought of a second term in office. It’s his bosses who feel that way, he insists, because they feel the reforms he has introduced should be seen through to the end.

Contrast this behavior with that of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who in a press conference last week said she would speak no ill of the Chief Executive who wants the Judiciary’s power of judicial review clipped. The third branch, he says, has been overreaching itself.

* In fact, the High Court has only been doing its job. It has never acted on an issue without a case having been brought before it. And in all these cases, the government, through the solicitor general and other representatives, has presented its arguments in full recognition of the Supreme Court’s power and jurisdiction.

Of course, it could be because the Court as it stands now is hardly the friendly branch Mr. Aquino had envisioned. Remember he broke tradition and appointed Sereno top judge despite being junior to many of her colleagues, perhaps in the hope that she would be so grateful for this act that she would show it at every turn.

It’s a consolation that the justices are not fighting fire with fire. The President’s portrayal of them as a hindrance to reform, given their decision on the Disbursement

Acceleration Program and lawmakers’ attempts to scrutinize the Judiciary Development Fund and the justices’ Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth are clear offensive moves. The justices are practicing restraint and tolerance amid these.

The same cannot be said of Mr. Aquino who is loose with his tongue, easy to provoke and believes anybody who does not agree with him is his enemy. Think of how he recently lambasted a former high official without naming him. We say, beware of those who always agree -- they may have sinister motives for not telling it to the President like it is.

But that’s Mr. Aquino’s problem. What is ours is having a fickle, unreliable, spiteful leader, and not being able to tell if he’s serious or just floating another mindless trial balloon.

Binay is it! By Atty. Harry Roque Jr. | Aug. 28, 2014 at 12:01am 220



I am not from Makati. I have, however been practicing law from Makati for the past 25 years. Surely, I have had enough experience with the City to conclude that while not claiming to be a saint, unlike many in this administration, Jejomar Binay is still the best leader to steer this country into the path of genuine and relevant economic growth and democracy.

My admiration for him begins from having known him as my mother’s favorite student in Pasay City High School. While he has lived in Makati for a very long time, he studied high school in Pasay. My mother never ran out of good things to say about the man, He was apparently very poor as a student that my mother and my grandmother, herself a public school teacher, took him under their protective fold not just in school, but even outside of school. My mother would tell me that Jojo was actually her eldest son. An orphan, he obviously brought out my mother’s maternal instinct to the point that Jojo’s many achievement became the proud moments for my mom as well.

But beyond the very parochial reason that Jojo Binay was my mom’s absolutely favorite student in her 55 years or so of teaching, I also admired him particularly during the trying anti-Marcos days. Then a renowned human right lawyer, Jojo was fearless in fighting for the restoration of democracy during one of the darkest moments of our history. His convictions did not go unnoticed. This was why former President Corazon Aquino appointed him Officer in Charge for Makati. This was also why initially, the residents of the country’s financial district gave him a mandate to rule. But the Cory magic could not have lasted long. Remember that like the son PNoy, she was initially everyone’s darling. She left office with one of the lowest acceptance levels of any President since the onslaught of public opinion surveys.

The fact therefore is that Jojo Binay has been in control of Makati, either because he (or his kin) was or his kin mayor of the City, or he did a lot of good to the City. Yes, it had been the financial district even before he became mayor. But it was during his stay in office that the people of Makati actually benefitted from the financial growth of the city. This, we hope, is something that he can duplicate nationally for six years, beginning in 2016.

For instance, notice the proliferation of classrooms in the city. Notice how big the city’s college has become. Notice that in primary schools, the city’s children have been fed, a fete which the national government has not replicated. Then, there’s the now-famous yellow card that has enabled the city’ s poor to avail of quality medical care even from private hospitals that cater only to the rich. His developmental model is obviously patterned after Europe: encourage financial development so the rich can be taxed high. Use the tax revenues, in turn, to deliver basic services to the people. And, lest we forget, Makati beat the rest of the nation in according our elders simple but much appreciated privileges—from free movies to the birthday caked that his detractors now want to demonize.

* Can I vouch that Jojo Binay did not enrich himself all these years that he has been in control of Makati?

Like everyone else, probably not- if only because I do not have any personal knowledge that he has plundered, malversed and/or misappropriated public funds. Yes, I have heard of some disparaging reports about him. But none of these charges have been proven in Court. Certainly, he could not have evaded the wheels of justice for as long as he has been in control of Makati without the elite from his city ensuring that he would be found guilty of at least for one crime involving graft and corruption. Let’s face it, the elite of Makati from their enclaves in Forbes and Dasma hate the guy, probably because he is dark. Be that as it may, they have not, despite their huge financial resources, been able to prove that Jojo Binay is corrupt.

What do I think about the alleged overpriced parking building in City Hall?

To begin with, all practicing litigators appreciate that building. It used to be dingy court rooms with smelly toilets. Now, the court rooms are world-class. Once, I had foreign observers in a Makati court to observe a trial of a freedom of speech case. The topnotch lawyers comprising the trial observation team could only say that they believed that they were in a court room at the heart of Manhattan. And yes, that allegedly overpriced building has given lawyers what they need the most: parking at reasonable rates.

But let the Ombudsman investigate if the building is really overpriced. That’s its constitutional mandate. But for our senators to arrogate unto themselves this constitutional powers in aid of their own elections is clearly an abuse of power.

Will I support Jojo Binay for 2016? Make no mistake: he’s the only one for the job.

To begin with, he is a lawyer and unlike PNoy, can defend his initiatives through the wringers of our Court system.

He has had a very long experience as a local executive which is the experience that this country needs if we are to improve the plight of the poor.

He also has the ideology , which I will describe as European democratic socialist, which judging form what he did in Makati, would mean excellent public schools systems and medical care for our people.

With a little luck, and with his experience as housing czar, he can also provided for housing for many which in turn, will also serve as a genuine economic stimuli, unlike the DAP.

Binay’s profession, managerial experience, and the fact that he was once poor and knows what the poor need, make him the guy who should be in Malacanang in 2016. Go Jojo!

Jailing Binay  By Jojo Robles | Aug. 27, 2014 at 12:01am



Rambotito should dig up his flack jacket and prepare to go to war again. The long knives of his tormentors, I’ve been told, are about to be unsheathed.

A source with close ties to Malacañang Palace has revealed that the current game plan of a powerful faction in the Aquino administration is to throw Vice President Jejomar Binay in jail, possibly by the end of the year. The plot against Binay was virtually confirmed by an informant in the Vice President’s camp, who said that they are expecting impeachment charges to be filed soon against the country’s second-highest official, currently the runaway leader in popularity surveys.

If these reports are true, then President Noynoy Aquino is in dire danger of falling into the trap laid out for him by his Liberal Party Politburo, which is desperately seeking a way to foist Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas upon the unwitting voting population as the anointed successor of the current Chief Executive. The LP leadership, which apparently believes that it has Aquino’s ear exclusively, wants to remove Binay physically from the political landscape to prevent him from going around the country campaigning, something the party’s leaders think will greatly improve the chances of Roxas.

Of course, jailing Binay—who has not seen the inside of a cell since the Marcos years, when he was a much-arrested human-rights lawyer and street parliamentarian—is easier said than done. After all, at the height of its great powers, the Arroyo administration wasn’t even able to unseat Binay from Makati City Hall on trumped-up administrative charges that it filed; Binay is definitely not going to allow his in-house foes to do the same to him, when he is already a heartbeat from the presidency and nominally still allied with the palace.

Certainly, the anti-Binay plot will be jettisoned if Aquino is roused from his LP-induced stupor and puts his foot down. But until Aquino does that, the Roxas faction in Malacañang will continue to operate as if it has the President’s go-ahead—which, at the moment, I still very much doubt has been given, tacitly or not.

But the get-Binay plotters see encouragement in the fact that Aquino has not yet openly declared if he is for Binay or for Roxas. Aquino may just be dangling withholding his endorsement —and even floating options like a second term, which is being pushed by the lunatic fringe of his much-reduced mass base —to avoid becoming a total lame duck and alienating allies in either the Binay or the Roxas faction; but until he decides, it seems that the demolition of the Vice President will continue as plotted.

At this point, just a little over a year until the 2016 elections, there is no strategy to elect Roxas that will be discarded by his boosters—never mind if his survey numbers seem fated never to go into double-digit territory.

* If jailing Binay is what it takes, then the Roxas camp will do it, regardless of what the Veep or his own supporters will do in retaliation. I’m stocking up on popcorn—this should be a real dogfight.

* * *

Having said all of that, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the fact that neither of Binay’s bashers in the Senate—Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes—belong to LP. While these two Nacionalista senators constitute the tag team that is trying to bludgeon the Veep into submission, they are independent contractors, political “ronin” or rogue samurai who have only their own personal interest (and overweening political ambition) in mind.

Cayetano, for instance, was the main hired gun of the Nacionalista Party of Manny Villar during the 2010 presidential elections. Cayetano winces when he is reminded of his former demolition job, since he is now vying for the position of “senator closest to Malacañang,” but he used to be a one-trick pony whose only line was to demand that Noynoy Aquino prove that he was not mentally incapable of becoming President.

Knowing Aquino’s sensitivity to questions about his mental state, I really don’t know how Cayetano wormed his way into the President’s good graces. But I suspect that the senator decided that he would rather cast his lot with Aquino rather than take his chances with Binay—whose Makati, after all, is still trying to get back the most expensive real estate in Cayetano’s Taguig.

As for Trillanes, his mercenary ways go back even further, when he was in the employ of the financiers of the Oakwood mutiny that he staged with his fellow soldiers who belonged to the so-called Magdalo to bring down the Arroyo administration. Trillanes has since gone a long way, all the way to the Senate, while his fellow coup plotters have been dismissed from the military or are still in jail; very few of the former Magdalo, by the way, speak highly still of Trillanes, whom they consider a sellout to the ideals they declared when they attempted to grab power.

Both Cayetano and Trillanes are going after Binay for an audience of one in Malacañang, in the hopes that they, too, will get the President’s support for the higher offices that they seek. The two senators’ interests, at this point, merely jibe with the Roxas faction’s.

It should be interesting to see how long the Cayetano-Trillanes show will run, especially if Aquino refuses to intervene. Popcorn, anyone?

Editorial: Failed welfare program By Manila Standard Today | Sep. 05, 2014 at 12:01am

Conditional cash transfer programs, as in other parts of the world, aim to break the cycle of poverty by generally improving the lot of poor families through education and raising household income.

Their effectiveness, however, is subject to debates and can only be generally measured by data from the Social Welfare Department showing a reduction in the poverty level over a period of time.

The CCT is a notable program when the recipients of the cash fairly abide by the conditions, such as enrolling their children in public schools and getting regular check-ups that lead to improved health and nutrition. But the program is a failure if it merely serves as a dole in exchange for political favors, without regard to the original objective of breaking the poverty cycle. The program is also a bust when state funds allotted for it end up in other agencies that have nothing to do with the task of poverty alleviation.

Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. challenged Malacañang the other day to prove its claim that the conditional cash transfer program had been a success.

* Santiago said the CCT program under Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman failed to bring inclusive growth to the country because its funds end up either stolen or misused.

Marcos, meanwhile, chided the government for boasting that the number of CCT beneficiaries had been increasing through the years. More CCT beneficiaries, according to Marcos, could only mean more and more Filipinos were becoming poorer.

Marcos also raised the issue of transparency on the use of funds, which have risen to P64 billion from an initial budget of P20 billion. Transparency, he said, had not been the hallmark of the whole program—starting from the assessment of the beneficiaries to the process and payment.

President Aquino should order a thorough review of the program and measure its effectiveness in addressing poverty amid the criticisms. The conditional cash transfer program is the least the government can do to ease the life of the Filipino poor. It must work to lessen the poverty rank.

Pulling down an innocent man  By Rod Kapunan | Aug. 30, 2014 at 12:01am



This column truly wonders whether those people in the Commission on Audit are escapees from the national psychiatric hospital or are raving mad dogs unleashed by this pretending-to-be-honest government to make sure it will have company once it is banished by the people.

This column is inclined to believe this because of that news item implicating Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to that scam of looting government funds through the practice of bribing members of Congress through their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and through that Florencio “Butch” Abad formula called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The news item which appeared in a broadsheet identified as rabidly pro-administration stated that “the Commission on Audit has disapproved for being “illegal and irregular” the P10 million channeled by Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to a livelihood project in Nakar, Quezon province, though a foundation headed by pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.” The news added that, “a notice of disallowance was issued by COA audit team leader Romeo B. Limara and supervising auditor Wilhelmina R. Cabuhat to Nakar Mayor Leovegildo R. Ruzol on June 30, ordering the return of Marcos’ P10 million, which was drawn from the Priority Development Assistance Find (PDAF) and transferred to Luy’s Social Development Program for Farmer’s Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) for the implementation of a project called “organic farming for high value crops.”

Accordingly, the disallowance was issued because “the SDPFFI’s physical and legal existence was questionable” as its address on its local government and tax registration certificates was a residential house at South City Homes in Binan Town, Laguna province (the same village where Napoles lived before she moved to Ayala Alabang).”

Surely, the COA audit team knows they are doing a demolition job to soften the impact that has caused serious damage to the image of President Aquino. This observation is most evident for even if Senator Marcos was allocated P65 million for his so-called PDAF in 2012, which many suspected was a bait to entrap him, that amount was however never physically turned over to him. That logically explains why Senator Marcos could not have gotten the P10 million or could have turned over an amount he did not receive in the first place.

The problem is that the same press release states that the PDAF supposedly allocated to Senator Marcos was transferred to Luy’s bogus farmer’s foundation. How that happened should be the starting point in COA’s investigation, for it is possible that he confederated with some people in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in defrauding the government. In fact, the finger pointing is indicative that Luy may have already pocketed and spent the money, which reason why he has been pointing to innocent people to deflect public suspicion of him as the principal suspect.

Those loonies in COA cannot directly demand from Senator Marcos and Mayor Ruzol the return of the money unless they have in their hands supporting documents indicating that indeed Luy turned over said funds to them other than the whistleblower’s self-serving assertion. That claim of having turned over P10 million to the Mayor of Nakar has to be proven in court because it is he, and not the two, who stands as accused of defrauding the government of its funds.

* That is obvious because the name of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. which appeared in the “detailed ledger” was digitally prepared by Luy himself, and that makes that piece of “evidence” self-serving and questionable. Even if Luy is now doing service to salvage the image of this pretending-to-be-honest government, he can still be accused for malversation. His final absolution from criminal liability can only come after he has managed to identify the recipients of those funds and itemize them to the last centavo. As a whistleblower, his duty is to help the government solve the crime, but not for him to make a profit out of the crime he himself committed.

Even Napoles, the one being pointed to by Luy as the mastermind, did not include or mentioned the name of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. in her so-called tell-all list. This discrepancy has all the more bolstered the possibility that Luy himself may have pocketed the whole amount.

The problem, however with that press release, is it states that it was Luy himself who worked it out to withdraw the supposed PDAF of Senator Marcos and transferred it to the bogus NGO he headed. Luy’s claim of having forwarded the amount to the Mayor of Nakar would not hold water much that his claim has not been corroborated by any witness or supported by evidence independent from his assertion. In that, one could see that Luy’s modus operandi is to implicate innocent persons without them having any idea their names have been used to erase whatever trace that could lead to him as the one that pocketed the money.

Maybe Luy can file a third party complaint against those senators and congressmen he claims to have received their PDAF, but in the meantime while the issue is being proven in court, he, together with Napoles, stands as criminally liable with Abad and Pulido as their accomplice much that they all connived to secure the release of the money. The government cannot proceed to file a case against anybody just for it to recover the looted funds, for in the eyes of the law, they conspired to make possible the commission of the crime.

If the Department of Justice is now seeking to absolve Luy on the basis that he exposed the very crime he participated in running, his status as myna of this pretending-to-be-honest government does not accord him the legal right to pin down anybody as he would wish. Luy has to sustain his claim with documents, checks and vouchers that indeed he forwarded or released the funds in favor of the alleged senators and congressmen.

Moreover, one must not forget that the Supreme Court has already declared the corrupted practice that began during the time of Mrs. Aquino unconstitutional and illegal. Invariably, to detract public attention from that unexpected decision that caused a black eye to the claim of honesty by this administration, it opted to focus on the alleged P10 million claimed by Luy as having been given by him to Senator Marcos, and not on how to recover the more then P10 billion looted by Napoles and his sidekick for fear that the trail might just end up knocking at their doorstep. Some say the government is now making it easy on Napoles fearing that she could pull it down, instead of PNoy pulling down his political enemies after the fallout of the decision that abruptly halted their syndicated practice of exacting obedience through bribery using public funds.

Undermining independence By Manila Standard Today | Sep. 04, 2014 at 12:01am

It’s a contradiction, really, when a supposedly independent constitutional commission like the Commission on Audit has to present its budget and wait for other officials to decide on it, by whim or in spite.

The COA had sought appropriations of P8.162 billion for 2015, representing 0.31 percent of the total national budget of P2.61 trillion. Of this amount, P838 million is supposed to go to capital outlay.

Such expenses include construction of satellite offices and acquisition of a database.

According to COA officials, they need to have satellite offices when auditing agencies in the provinces. Without their own offices, state auditors are left with no choice other than to do their work in the premises of the very agencies they are auditing.

This situation breeds conflict of interest because the entity being audited is doing the auditor a favor.

Another capital outlay envisioned is a database that would allow easy access to reports historical and current. As it is, the absence of an information depository makes it difficult for COA officials themselves to retrieve files when these are needed. The public, more so.

These plans may have to be recast, however, because the Department of Budget and Management, upon the budget’s transmittal to Congress, had slashed the capital outlay item to P405,000—less than 5 percent of the original amount sought.

There may be a hundred reasons for the budget cut. It could be that the COA, at the center of the pork barrel investigations, has found that dozens of officials may have channeled their priority development allocations to dubious organizations. The list includes allies and supporters of the President as well, although charges have only been filed against those in the opposition.

Whatever the reason, COA by virtue of its mandate deserves to be enabled to do its job well and without interference.

It’s a shame that this administration believes then when an agency asserts its independence, it is overreaching. So much for checks and balances, or even simply performing an agency’s duty.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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