File photo of President Aquino.

MANILA, NOVEMBER 1, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani - President Benigno Aquino III defended anew the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of his administration and categorically denied that he stole from public coffers through this fund scheme.

In a televised speech on Wednesday evening, Aquino once again hinted that those who were involved in the alleged multi-billion peso pork barrel scam were the ones behind the attacks against the DAP.

"We are not the same. I have never stolen. I am not a thief. I am the one who goes after thieves," Aquino told his critics.

"The issue here is theft. I did not steal. Those who have been accused of stealing are those who are sowing confusion; they want to dismantle all that we have worked so hard to achieve on the straight path. We were stolen from, we were deceived—and now we are the ones being asked to explain?" Aquino said.

The Aquino administration has been criticized for the DAP, which was introduced in 2011 to supposedly boost the economy.

The fund scheme, which realigns government savings from stalled projects to speed up other programs, has been attacked for being allegedly unconstitutional.

Responding to his critics, Aquino maintained that the DAP has a legal basis and it is not another form of pork barrel.

"The DAP is not theft. Theft is illegal. Spending through DAP is clearly allowed by the Constitution and by other laws. DAP is only a name for a process in which government can spend both savings and new and additional revenues," said Aquino.

The President said the benefits of the projects that received the re-channeled savings reached the people faster and earlier. He cited several supposed gains of the country from the DAP scheme.

For one, Aquino claimed that according to the World Bank, the DAP contributed 1.3 percentage points to the gross domestic product growth of the country in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Other projects and agencies that benefitted from the DAP, according to the President were:

- the Project NOAH of the Department of Science and Technology - the Training-for-Work Scholarship Program of TESDA - Air Force and the police - infrastructure in Mindanao and other parts of the country; restore - GSIS premiums of DepEd employees

The DAP controversy and other allegations of fund misuse recently affected affected Aquino's approval ratings.

Results of a Social Weather Stations survey conducted from September 20 to 23 showed that Aquino's net ratings declined to a "good" score of +49 from a "very good" +64 last June.

Meanwhile, a Pulse Asia survey conducted from September 14 to 27 revealed that the Aquino administration failed to score majority approval ratings on eight of 10 national issues.

The Aquino administration's approval rating on fighting government corruption also declined from 59 percent to 47 percent, the same survey said.

The STAR also reported that Aquino's rating fell from 79 percent to a record low of 35 percent in a survey conducted by Malacañang this month.

Early ‘Undas’ for Aquino Family

October 30, 2013 manila bulletin EARLY ‘UNDAS’ FOR AQUINO FAMILY – President Benigno S. Aquino III greets his nephew Bimby as members of the Aquino family visit the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City yesterday, two days before the traditional All Saints’ Day commemoration. The President and his sisters Viel Dee, Pinky Abellada, Kris Aquino, and Ballsy Cruz, together with their respective families, attended a Holy Mass at the park where their parents, former President Corazon C. Aquino and martyred opposition leader Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr., are buried. Kris brought along her sons Bimby and Joshua (right) to the event. (Malacañang Photo Bureau)

Aquino reiterates firm stand on pork POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 31, 2013 - 12:00am 2 7 googleplus0 0

PORK ISSUE: President Noynoy Aquino came out fighting last night as he defended the need and the legality of his presidential pork barrel, including the Disbursement Acceleration Program fund whose constitutionality is under question before the Supreme Court.

Actually I wished the President would relax his position, so he could salvage the deteriorating situation. From there, he could then try to recoup lost ground, including his weakening public trust rating.

I was disappointed that he did not try pedaling back, or searching for ways to institutionalize his avowed disbursement reforms. What happens if/when he is succeeded by somebody who is not as saintly as he is?

In a 13-minute televised address to the nation, the President reiterated his firm stand to keep his pork, justifying his position with his good intentions and a claim that all his disbursements are on the level.

* * *

CHANGE OR CHAOS: Because of the absence of a clear viable alternative, I dare say many Filipinos still want President Aquino himself – not an outside force -- to nurse back to health the sick nation in the short time left of his term.

In my Postscript last Oct. 15, or two weeks ago, I wrote that Noynoy Aquino appears to have placed his presidency on the line with his stand for keeping his presidential pork. He will rise or fall on that issue.

Now it seems the people have spoken against that position. The President should be feeling the public pulse, because a survey conducted by Malacañang itself this month showed his rating to have fallen from 79 percent to a record low of 35 percent.

Apart from that, separate surveys of the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia show his trust rating to have dropped precipitously.

If he knows what is good for him and the country, he should heed the writing on the wall -- rather than allow the Philippines to fall into chaos.

* * *

WHOSE FAULT?: What to call officially the hitherto unknown fault that rose from centuries of deep slumber and triggered a devastating magnitude-7.2 earthquake in Central Visayas in the wee hours of last Oct. 15?

It is now listed as North Bohol Fault, although some DoST officials earlier wanted to call it the “Inabanga Fault”, after the town where a team of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology first saw a section of the rupture rising like a wall two to three meters high.

It could have gone on record as the “Inabanga Fault” had not local officials objected, fearing their quiet town might be identified with the disaster that crumbled centuries-old churches among hundreds of structures and killed more than 200 persons.

Their objection recalls complaints of Marikina officials that property values in their city have been depressed because the valley is hemmed in by quake faults carrying the city’s name. So the Marikina Valley Fault is now called by the generic name Valley Fault, minus Marikina.

* * *

NAMING STYLE: Similar objections had also been raised by officials of Eastern Luzon provinces (like Quezon and Catanduanes) often used as weather reference points and etched in the public mind as typhoon-ravaged and therefore unsafe to live and invest in.

Places are easier to remember. In California, the UC Berkeley professor who had made early studies on the San Andreas Fault named the 1,300-kilometer rupture after the Laguna de San Andreas, a small lake formed by earth movements in a valley south of San Francisco.

Actually, there should not be serious objections to naming the Bohol fault after Inabanga where it prominently broke out, although it runs a hundred kilometers more under other towns.

But as the quake was earlier suspected to have originated from the East Bohol Fault, it would be consistent to call the new culprit the North Bohol Fault instead of deviating from technical style and calling it Inabanga Fault.

* * *

TOURISM: The Phivolcs geologist team that first documented the fault was led by Teresito Bacolcol, who rushed to Inabanga after Howie Severino of GMA-7 told him a wall had surfaced in barangay Anonang. In Bacolcol’s team were Charmaine Villanueva and Cathy Pogay.

Either in a light vein or a spark of what could be native business sense some Inabanga folk have suggested calling it the “Great Wall of Bohol” (it even rhymes!) and promote it as tourism experience. The naturally charming and hospitable Boholanos can do it, given the chance.

The wall could be protected, preserved and its surroundings spruced up to make the village more attractive and convenient to visitors who might spend on souvenirs, local food and even al fresco lodging before moving on to other sites.

Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto said he picked up ideas from Phivolcs geologist Jane Punongbayan who told him of the Japanese government’s moving along the tourism line after the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

* * *

GMA’S FAULT: The Bohol fault’s name is not really that crucial, except for uniformity in nomenclature. But if the debate over it persists, to cut short the wrangling, the administration can just be consistent and call it “GMA’s Fault”.

(Among themselves, government scientists jokingly call Phivolcs geologists “fault-finders” while those of the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences are called “gold-diggers.” Guess what they call weather forecasters.)

The minor discussion on what to call the Bohol fault and who should give it a name is an unfortunate indication of subterranean jealousies among some agencies.

While integration and coordination is useful, maybe DoST officials should be careful about putting themselves on top of technical agencies in a manner that blurs specific functions, waylays credits and multiplies operational expenses.

This undeclared turf war also manifested itself in the quarrel of Red Cross workers and Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco who demanded that the relief goods be turned over to him to distribute. Thank god, the Red Cross said no way.

Aquino hits at 'old politician' in pork barrel scam By Louis Bacani ( | Updated October 30, 2013 - 9:13pm 16 413 googleplus1 0

File photo of President Aquino.

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III reiterated that those who had been implicated into the alleged pork barrel scam were the same people responsible for the recent attacks on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The President told his critics in a televised speech on Wednesday evening that unlike them, he has not stolen from public funds.

He said these critics who were allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam heeded the advice of an "old politician" in firing counter-accusations to the administration regarding the DAP.

"And since it is exceedingly difficult to explain, it seems they have taken the advice of an old politician from their camp: If you can’t explain it, muddle it; if you can’t deodorize it, make everyone else stink; if you can’t look good, make everyone look bad. You have heard what they are saying: that we are all the same," Aquino said.

Over 30 individuals have been charged before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam.

Those facing plunder charges are Janet Lim-Napoles and 89-year-old Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.

Also charged are Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada, who delivered a privilege speech on the pork barrel that eventually led to the entire DAP controversy.

The President warned that the recent criticisms against the DAP will not stop him from holding accountable those involved in the pork barrel scam.

"This is what I say to them: If you think that this will stop me from going after you, if you think that you can divert the public’s attention, if you think you can get away with stealing from our countrymen—you have sorely underestimated me and the Filipino people," Aquino said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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