AQUINO, GMA ALLIES POUNCE ON EACH OTHER: NOY TO GMA- BRING IT ON!


MANILA
, JUNE 26, 2011 (TRIBUNE) By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan and Charlie V. Manalo - The Aquino-Arroyo battle royale raged on yesterday as the Palace dared the camp of former President Arroyo to bring it on amid her allegations of the lack of leadership of Aquino, while a key Arroyo ally challenged the administration to face head on the issues raised by the current Pampanga representative in the House.

Presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said yesterday the former President’s attacks against Aquino was designed to “deflect attention from her refusing to submit to proper procedures for ascertaining accountability.”


“We’ve been parrying the attacks of former President Arroyo’s camp for too long now but this time we are hitting back. We are ready,” Valte said in response to Mrs. Arroyo’s claim that the Aquino administration supposedly did not build on the gains of her administration but eroded them instead.

Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, an ally of Arroyo, however, claimed it is the Palace that is diverting the people’s attention from its failure to address the country’s pressing concerns, adding the Aquino administration should face head-on the issues raised by Arroyo.

Magsaysay said the issues raised by Arroyo were valid but it was unfortunate the Palace had to evade answering the issues and instead divert these by claiming Arroyo was only out to gain media mileage to cover-up for her plunder cases.

“I think GMA (Arroyo) like everybody else has a right to comment on issues besetting our country especially if she was asked by media for her opinion,” Magsaysay said.

“The points raised were valid but unfortunately were not answered by Malacañang head on as (Palace Deputy Spokesperson Abigail) Valte evaded the issues raised.”

Last Friday, Arroyo hosted members of the media in her hometown in Lubao, Pampanga for lunch in an event dubbed as GMA socials with media.

There, she accused Aquino of not only failing to address the country’s worsening problems but of wasting the economic gains achieved by her previous administration.

Saying she left behind a robust economy built on the successes of her predecessors, former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph “Erap” Estrada, but which the incumbent administration had failed to sustain, Arroyo dared Aquino to start working before the country’s already decelerating economy totally collapses.

The former president also chastised Aquino for failing to act immediately on the severe flooding which hit Mindanao saying she left a P50 million fund for the rehabilitation of the Mindanao River Basin which Aquino failed to execute.

GMA’s socials with media, as requested by a select members of the media covering the House of Representatives, was originally scheduled last week, June 17, but was reset at the last minute after Arroyo was admitted at the St. Luke’s Hospital on June 16 for cervical radiculopathy or pinched nerve.

However, Valte, instead of answering the issues raised by Arroyo, accused the former president of just trying to gain media mileage and cover up for the plunder cases filed against her.

“We find it unsurprising that Rep. Arroyo has chosen to try to make political hay when the sun isn’t shining. Despite her glaring absence from proceedings inquiring into her culpability and accountability as President, she has found time to try to obtain media mileage at a time that calls for the attention of media, the public, and the government on the current weather disturbance,” Valte was quoted by reporters saying during an interview.

“Rep. Arroyo essentially wants to be treated as a former president at a time when no one has denied her the courtesies due her formerly being chief executive. She seems to confuse official courtesy with the hallmark of her stay in power: Impunity. We believe that her press conference today is merely a ploy to deflect attention from her refusal to submit to proper procedures for ascertaining accountability. She may well be unused to the idea of an independent Ombudsman in the near future; and furthermore upset that the time of her being above the rules and beyond accountability is finally over,” added Valte.

While the Palace spin doctor not only failed to answer the issues raised by Arroyo, she also failed to explain why Aquino was absent during the meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council even as Luzon was experiencing the worst rain and flooding since Typhoon Ondoy in 2009

Magsaysay said the Palace line of reasoning and attack against Arroyo seemed to be shallow as whatever the former president will say, her cases would have still to be heard in court, so there’s no way her interview with members of the media could be used to cover up allegations against her.

“The cases against GMA will continue to be heard on court so the line the Palace gave that GMA is talking to cover up her cases does not hold,” said Magsaysay.

On the other hand, the solon said the Palace should address Arroyo’s isses head on.

“Malacañang should address the issues and concerns (raised by Arroyo)head on and give concrete solutions and answers,” Magsaysay stressed.

“It does not matter who raised them, it still doesn’t extinguish their accountability to the Filipino people.”

Arroyo said she has left behind a robust economy cultivated through 10 years of uninterrupted growth, a claim that was quickly belittled by Valte and accused the former president of causing the depletion of the government’s calamity funds.

Valte also refuted Mrs. Arroyo’s claim that the Aquino administration does not have any sense of continuity and said that the Aquino administration is continuing the programs of its predecessor, but only those that “work.”

Valte went on to criticize Mrs. Arrroyo whom he accused of emptying national coffers, including calamity funds which were allegedly wasted on expenses not related the government’s disaster response efforts.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. Cabinet secretaries will tell you horror stories of empty coffers when we came in,” Valte said.

Valte also disputed Mrs.Arroyo’s tirades on the Aquino government’s bad economic policies and bragged that under the present administration, hunger incidence went down and the economy got upgraded assessments from Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings.

“For us it’s a sign (that) our policies are working,” Valte said as she rejected claims by Mrs. Arroyo that the Aquino administration is benefiting from her administration’s fiscal efforts.

“We were under her helm for nine years. If it were really traceable partly to (Arroyo’s) effort it would have come during (her) nine years,” she said.

In a press conference in her hometown Lubao Friday, Mrs. Arroyo lashed at the “fault-finding” administration of President Aquino for wasting the country’s economic gains brought about by the joint efforts of the previous administrations.

She said the rate of the country’s economy deceleration under the Aquino administration is clear proof the country economy is nearing critical level.

Mrs. Arroyo said that contrary to criticisms hurled against her by the Aquino administration, she has left behind a robust economy effected through 10 years of uninterrupted growth. “Ten years of uninterrupted growth even during the global crisis, and I left with a 7.9 percent growth rate, I left with automated elections which is the beginning of political reforms,” said Arroyo.

“So today a year later, the economy is still benefiting from that sustainable growth but this is not to say that there are no danger signs. There are danger signs, “ she added as she lamented the way the Aquino administration is wasting the economic gains of the combined administrations of FVR, Estrada and hers.

A staunch supporter of Aquino also retaliated at Arroyo for claiming that the present administration is leaderless and has no sustainable economic direction.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan took his tirades against Arroyo several notches higher, taking a dig at her past alleged misdeeds supposedly committed right inside the Palace premises.

The senator, who was once aligned with Arroyo, said these alleged wrongdoings pale in comparison to her criticisms against Aquino.

“Yes, GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) is right that nobody is home. Nobody is home in Malacañang passing hundreds of thousands of cash to pay off political allies in exchange for votes — or calling Comelec (Commission on Elections) commissioners on the cellphone for election fraud.

“Nobody is home receiving calls from cabinet secretaries who report about P200M bribe offers for government contracts, or instructing undersecretaries to divert funds meant for fertilizers to election campaign funds,” he said.

“Yes, Malacañang has been exorcised of all these with GMA stepping down and as such we are truly grateful that nobody’s home who’s willing and capable of doing all that,” Pangilinan added.

Arroyo, in a press conference Friday, chastised Aquino for wasting the country’s economic gains brought about by the joint efforts of the previous administrations, saying that the rate of the country’s economy deceleration under the Aquino administration is clear proof the country economy is nearing critical level.

But Malacañang quickly blasted away at the former President, saying that she was using this press conference for media exposure and to divert public attention from her plunder charges, to the point of Arroyo not even attending the preliminary investigation held at the Department of Justice.

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) director Joel Villanueva, another Aquino ally, said the more accurate state of affairs when Arroyo stepped down from office last year after her nine-year stint could be aptly described as “nothing left at home.”

Villanueva said in a statement that the former President left the Aquino administration not only with empty coffers, but heavy in debt as in the case of the P2 billion scholarship vouchers that the previous Tesda administration purportedly distributed despite the absence of funds.

“The more accurate and truthful depiction is Nothing Left at Home. The Arroyo administration left us with a bad image, bad personnel habits and empty coffers,” he added.

Villanueva said that if things are moving slowly from their perspective, it is because the Aquino administration is preoccupied with cleaning the mess they left while attending to the people’s needs.

He argued that in Tesda, they are doing our share of house-cleaning, while pursuing programs that are pro-active and relevant to our constituents.

“Trainings actually happen, and modules of courses are reviewed and retrofitted to suit the needs of the market. Our assessment of workers, returning OFWs, trainers, and students are ongoing and those who pass are given certificates that become their pass to employment,” he said.

“At the larger plane, we recently received an upgrade in our credit rating and unemployment rate is down. We acknowledge that there is lot of work to be done. But we won’t take sitting down unfounded criticisms, especially from the one who caused all the country’s misery,” he added. Angie M. Rosales, Jason Faustino

FROM THE PHILSTAR

Palace to GMA: Nobody home to empty government coffers By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated June 26, 2011 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang will not take the tirades of former president, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sitting down as it struck back and accused her of corruption and of almost emptying government coffers.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte (photo at right) said over government radio station dzRB that while Arroyo might only be trying to divert attention from the cases filed against her, the recent upgrades the Philippines received from credit rating agencies should attest to the soundness of the Aquino administration’s policies.

Valte said it was confusing that Arroyo could claim “nobody home” to mean the country was leaderless under President Aquino.

She said many fiscal reforms had been implemented, including the zero-based budgeting and the rationalization of the salaries and perks for executives of government-owned and -controlled corporations.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said there was not much gain that Arroyo could brag about which the administration could build on.

Valte said she would like to echo Sen. Francis Pangilinan’s assertion that “nobody home” should not mean leaderless but rather the absence of a leader skilled in stealing government resources and in taking bribes.

“Yes, GMA is right that nobody is home. Nobody is home in Malacañang passing hundreds of thousands of cash to pay off political allies in exchange for votes – or calling Comelec (Commission on Elections) commissioners on the cell phone for election fraud,” Pangilinan earlier said.

Pangilinan and other critics of Arroyo have accused her of cheating in the 2004 elections. A wiretapped conversation between a Comelec official widely believed to be retired commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and someone who sounded like Arroyo was enough evidence to prove allegations of poll fraud against her, Pangilinan said.

“Nobody is home receiving calls from Cabinet secretaries who report about P200-million bribe offers for government contracts, or instructing undersecretaries to divert funds meant for fertilizers to election campaign funds,” he added.

“So on that point, if that is what they are referring to – that nobody is home to do that – they are right. Because since President Aquino stepped in Malacañang on June 30, no one was doing that anymore,” Valte said.

Valte said every president has his or her own style of governing and that the Aquino administration has made sure from the very beginning that inexistent or incomplete projects don’t get allocation based on zero-based budgeting.

Aquino, when he was still senator, would always complain about the Arroyo administration’s penchant for funding unimplemented projects or agencies that no longer exist.

Valte said the administration continued the conditional cash transfer program because it would be of help to the poorest of the poor. “In fact, we made the reach wider, we made the program better,” she said.

Another Aquino Cabinet member, Technical Educations and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Joel Villanueva said Arroyo “missed an important point when she heaped criticism on Aquino’s ‘nobody home’” leadership.

“The more accurate state of affairs when she stepped down from office last year after her nine-year stint could be aptly described as ‘nothing left at home.’ The Arroyo administration left us with a bad image, bad personnel habits and empty coffers,” Villanueva said in a statement.

Valte said that in the first year of the Aquino administration, the economy got upgraded assessments from Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings.

“Are those the danger signs? If they treat our ability to be able to keep the deficit down, then that is not danger sign for us,” she said.

She also contested Mrs. Arroyo’s claim that the Aquino administration was benefiting from her administration’s fiscal efforts, saying those should have been felt during her nine years in power.

On Friday, Mrs. Arroyo scored the Aquino administration for supposedly not building on the gains of her administration.

Mrs. Arroyo said she has left behind a robust economy cultivated through 10 years of uninterrupted growth. The economy, she added, is still benefiting today from that “sustainable growth.”

“The economy that I left for my successor was very strong at the time when there was a global crisis. Now when the rest of Asia is recovering, our economy is decelerating and that is the problem,” she said.

Tropical storm “Falcon” was raging at the time Arroyo invited media for a rare gathering and press briefing in Lubao, her hometown in Pampanga. – With Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy

FROM GMANEWS TV

FORMER PRESIDENT GLORIA ARROYO CRITICIZES P-NOY ON COTABATO FLOOD WOES by Alethea, on Fri, Jun 24 2011 

The somewhat faltering efforts of the Aquino administration to resolve the perennial flood problems in Cotabato drew criticisms from former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

At a rare media briefing in Lubao, Pampanga Friday, Arroyo said her successor, President Benigno Aquino III, has the option to continue her administration’s “Mindanao River for Peace" project, or continue to draw flak from the opposition.

Before she ended her nine-year administration, the former President said she authorized P50 million to be released for the rehabilitation and development of the Mindanao River Basin, one of the many river deltas in the region.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

However, Malacañang said it finds Arroyo’s statements unsurprising to make “political hay when the sun isn’t shining."

“Despite her glaring absence from proceedings inquiring into her culpability and accountability as President, she has found time to try to obtain media mileage [amid] the current weather disturbance," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement.

Tropical storm Falcon is in Philippine territory at the time Arroyo invited media for a rare gathering and press briefing in Lubao — Arroyo’s hometown.

Valte pointed out that Arroyo wants to be “treated" as a former President when everyone does not give her due courtesy as the former chief executive.

“She seems to confuse official courtesy with the hallmark of her stay in power, impunity. We believe that her press conference today is merely a ploy to deflect attention from her refusing to submit to proper procedures for ascertaining accountability," Valte said.

“We regret that instead of focusing on her constituents’ needs at this time, she is trying to hog the headlines in a gambit to distract attention from her past deeds," Valte added.

What Arroyo admin started

Arroyo said at least two or three development projects had been implemented in the river basin before her presidency ended in 2010. Now, she said, she only hopes that the current administration will continue what she had started.

“It exists [and] it just needs to be continued," Arroyo said, pointing out that the incumbent President “should not grope [in the dark] because there is a master plan for the project."

Rio Grande de Mindanao, the longest river in the region and one of the many that connects to the river basin, is hounded by water hyacinths that hamper the flow of water causing unprecedented floods in some parts of the region.

The Mindanao River Basin project is a promising venture, especially when included in the Aquino administration’s public-private partnership scheme, Arroyo said. “It’s good because it contributes to credit upgrade," she added.

The economy after Arroyo

Herself an economist, Arroyo said there are danger signs of an economic slowdown in Aquino’s term: consumer prices continue to increase, poverty incidence is worsening, the poor are getting poorer, and corruption rating is rising.

“‘Yung economiya na iniwan ko, very strong. [Now] when the rest of Asia is recovering [from the global crisis], ours is decelerating," the former President said.

Arroyo stressed that the Philippines is a “characterization of nobody’s home. That’s the main source that there maybe danger lurking ahead for the economy."

One way to get away with such a problem is for Aquino to continue programs that worked during his predecessor’s period, Arroyo said. “I built [my administration] on gains of previous leaders."

With one such formula, Arroyo said she was able to turn over to Aquino a new Philippines with a sustainable and uninterrupted growth rate for 10 years.

“I was focused on sustainability — that’s when I started my reforms. I raised taxes even though unpopular and all the things to achieve sustainable growth. So, a year later [after my term], the economy is still benefiting," according to Arroyo.— With Lia Mañalac, JE/VS, GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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