JOKER, PING ACCUSED PALACE SPOKESPERSONS OF 'INDOLENCE' OVER NOY'S MISSTEPS

MANILA, OCTOBER 14, 2013
(INQUIRER) By Norman Bordadora - Don’t get smart with the Joker. He won’t find it funny, especially if you did not do your homework.

Former Sen. Joker Arroyo on Tuesday slammed presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda (photo at left) for alleged laziness a day after the latter said the lawmaker had failed to speak out against graft during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Arroyo said the laziness of President Aquino’s spokespersons had put the President in trouble, a reference to the controversy over the alleged unconstitutionality of the administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

“Part of the problem in Malacańang is the indolence of their spokespersons. They play things by ear and pass it off as facts,” said the three-term Makati congressman and two-term senator.

“Take their accusation that I didn’t react to irregularities that took place in the past administration, citing for instance the fertilizer scam and the NBN-ZTE scandal,” said Arroyo, who served as executive secretary of the first Aquino administration.

Lacson joins fray

Like Arroyo, former Sen. Panfilo Lacson (photo at left) scored the spokespersons for not insulating President Aquino from the effects of their mistakes.

“What’s happening is since they know he’s like Teflon (the dirt won’t stick), it seems that they’re pushing him to the front. ‘Mr. President, since you’re quite popular, can you explain this for us,’” Lacson told reporters on Tuesday. “For me, something is wrong.”

Lacson met with reporters on Tuesday to personally deny Science Secretary Mario Montejo’s disclosure that he had allocated P30 million of his DAP to certain projects of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

“The moment I saw Secretary Lacierda and (Communications Secretary Ricky) Carandang (photo at left) explaining on behalf of (Budget) Secretary (Florencio) Abad, I already saw a problem.

Why is the spokesperson of Malacańang explaining for the DBM (Department of Budget and Management)?” Lacson asked.

“It should be the DBM that should explain because this is the issue. Why is the spokesperson of the President explaining for one department? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?” he added.

Check Senate records

Arroyo said the Palace spokespersons could have readily checked with the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office and with Senate records before issuing statements such as what Lacierda mouthed on Monday.

“They can ask for the records there, but they don’t and thereby err in their statements. Senate records would show that I differed with and opposed GMA [Gloria Arroyo’s initials] on many issues,” Arroyo said.

Fertilizer fund scam

“All these are accessible in the Senate records. You do not need an FOI (Freedom of Information) for that. Staff indolence, that’s why the President gets into trouble for missteps that are not his,” he added.

Contrary to Lacierda’s tirade on Monday, Arroyo said that he, as chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee in the 13th Congress, coauthored the committee report that recommended the prosecution of those involved in the fertilizer fund scam.

“The fertilizer scam was investigated in the 13th Congress by Sen. Jun Magsaysay, chair of the committee on agriculture and food as the lead committee and myself, chair of the blue ribbon committee as the secondary committee,” Arroyo said.
“Thus, we coauthored the 41-page Committee Report No. 54 strongly condemning the project and recommending the prosecution of the offenders from top to bottom,” he added.

ZTE deal

On the canceled NBN-ZTE deal, Arroyo said he filed a separate opinion with the opening declaration that “the broadband project, subject of the investigation, was doomed to fail at its inception.”

“As I postulated, after the elections and with the election of President Aquino, the ZTE case found its way to the Ombudsman and the prosecution of the offenders,” he said.

Venable contract

Arroyo said that “by plenary resolution of the Senate, I appeared and argued the position of the Senate before the Supreme Court against President GMA [Gloria Arroyo’s initials] and won them, such as the Venable contract which would use American money to help amend the Constitution and the people’s initiative [for Charter change] to do the same.”

He said he also argued in behalf of the Senate against President Arroyo’s Executive Order No. 464 that gave government officials an excuse to skip congressional inquiries.

Proclamation 1017

The former lawmaker said that he also did the same against Gloria Arroyo’s Proclamation No. 1017 “which curtailed freedom of assembly and of the press.”

“As chair of the blue ribbon [committee], I reported out and condemned the anomalous deals and contracts involving Piatco, the tax credit scandal, Napocor and Masinloc bidding, and others,” Arroyo said.

During the Aquino administration, Arroyo said he voted “no” against the 2011 and 2012 General Appropriations Acts and delivered a turno en contra on the 2013 proposed national budget because of the hefty lump-sum appropriations and Priority Development Assistance Fund.

Arroyo broke his silence when Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the veteran lawmaker had allocated P47 million in DAP funds to schools in Naga City and to medical assistance in certain hospitals of the national government.

He protested, saying the projects he had identified were proposed for inclusion in the national budget and were not funded by a discretionary lump-sum like the DAP.

Arroyo drew adverse remarks from Lacierda when he said Malacańang should hale itself to court for creating the “patently illegal” DAP.

Montejo’s mistake

Lacson, who like Arroyo never availed himself of pork barrel entitlements, said he had proposed projects as amendments to the 2012 General Appropriations Act, not as items to be funded by the DAP.

“Categorically, I will say that he’s wrong. Perhaps, he made an honest mistake or whatever. What I can’t accept is that I’m included in the issue of DAP,” Lacson said, referring to Montejo.

Arroyo, Lacson and Sen. Pia Cayetano have all denied availing themselves of the DAP despite categorical statements to the contrary by Cabinet secretaries.

Lacson indicated that it was a source of pride that in his 12 years as a senator, he had never availed himself of the congressional lump sums for projects because he believed these were a source of corruption.

DOST realigned Pia’s P10M

Cayetano, for her part, said the DOST realigned the P10 million worth of allocations she had proposed in the 2012 General Appropriations Act without her knowledge.

Cayetano made the remark as she denied Montejo’s disclosure that she had released P10 million from the DAP to fund DOST projects.

“I did not request nor did I authorize the release of funds under the DAP scheme to the Department of Science and Technology,” Cayetano said in a statement sent from Geneva.

The senator is in Switzerland to attend the International Parliamentarians Union conference.

“I don’t even know that term. What I know is I proposed amendments in the amount of P10 million to the DOST budget under the 2012 general appropriations bill,” Cayetano added.

The senator said her proposed amendments were coursed through then Senate finance committee chair Franklin Drilon in a letter dated Nov. 22, 2011.

Cayetano said she even submitted in writing the breakdown of the P10 million: P2 million for training and scholarships; P1 million for the purchase of Starbooks facilities under the Science and Technology Information Institute; and P7 million for financial assistance for Research and Development.

“I proposed these amendments to support various DOST programs in line with my belief that we need to continuously innovate and invest in science and technology for our country to be more competitive and progressive,” Cayetano said,
“It later came to my office’s attention around February 2012, however, that the DOST had realigned said amount to the ‘Malnutrition Reduction Program’ of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, an agency under DOST,” Cayetano added.

Joker Arroyo blames Lacierda, et al.’s ‘indolence’ for Aquino’s missteps By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net 3:47 pm | Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III gets into trouble because of the “indolence” of his spokespersons, former Senator Joker Arroyo said on Tuesday.

“Part of the problem in Malacańang is the indolence of their spokespersons,” Arroyo said in a statement. “They play things by ear and pass [them] off as facts.”

“Staff indolence, that’s why the President gets into trouble for missteps that are not his,” he added.

Arroyo specifically pointed to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s statements that he did not react to irregularities that allegedly took place during the administration of then President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo like the fertilizer scam and the ZTE scandal.

In the case of the fertilizer scam, Arroyo pointed out that he was the chairman of the Senate blue ribbon when it investigated the scam along with the committee on agriculture, which led the inquiry.

In fact, he said, he co-authored the 41-page committee report, “strongly condemning the project and recommending prosecution of the offenders from top to bottom.”

On the ZTE investigation, Arroyo said he filed a separate opinion with the opening declaration that the “broadband project, subject of the investigation, was doomed to fall at its inception.”

“As I postulated after the elections and with the election of President Aquino, the ZTE case found its way to the Ombudsman and the prosecution of the offenders,” he said.

Arroyo said Senate records would show that he “found fault in many issues with GMA (Arroyo’s initials.)

He then cited how he appeared and argued before the Supreme Court against Arroyo and won them, how he fought Executive Order 464 or executive privilege as well as Proclamation 101, which curtails freedom of assembly and of the press.

As then chairman of the blue ribbon committee, Arroyo said he reported and condemned the anomalous deals and contracts involving PIATCO (Philippine International Air Terminals Corp), the tax credit scandal, Napocor and Masinloc biddings, among others.

All these records are accessible in the Senate records. You do not need an FOI (freedom of Information) for that,’ Arroyo added.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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