NO PING-MAR CONFLICT, PALACE ASSURES

Palace spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Saturday the executive order being crafted to define Lacson’s new post will specify his duties in coordinating the speedy and efficient implementation of the rehabilitation program. “The concept of his new assignment is to ensure the speedy implementation of the various programs that will be implemented by key agencies, like the Department of Public Works (and Highways),” Coloma said in an interview on government radio.

ALSO: Palace game plan on DAP bared

DESPITE denials from the Palace, an opposition leader claimed on Saturday that Malacañang is allegedly planning to use the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program to pummel justices of the Supreme Court to submit to the wishes of the Aquino administration. “Malacanang cannot disavow any knowledge of the plan to impeach at least three justices of the high tribunal,” said Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, secretary general of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). “The ultimate goal is splitting the decision of the 15 justices and tipping the balance of power within the SC that may likely paralyze justices who are not submissive to Malacanang,” he added.

ALSO EARLIER: Aquino speech on DAP draws mixed reactions

"Let me make it clear: The Disbursement Allocation Program is not pork barrel," he said in his message delivered from the President's Hall in Malacañang. He said that of the DAP releases in 2011 and 2012, only nine percent was disbursed for projects suggested by legislators. "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 additional revenues," Aquino said.


NO PING-MAR CONFLICT, PALACE ASSURES

MANILA, DECEMBER 9, 2013 (MANILA STANDARD) By Ronald Reyes - ALTHOUGH former senator Panfilo Lacson will also have Cabinet rank as Typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation czar, Malaca?ang sees no looming conflict with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who was previously tasked to oversee rehabilitation in disaster areas.

Palace spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Saturday the executive order being crafted to define Lacson’s new post will specify his duties in coordinating the speedy and efficient implementation of the rehabilitation program.

“The concept of his new assignment is to ensure the speedy implementation of the various programs that will be implemented by key agencies, like the Department of Public Works (and Highways),” Coloma said in an interview on government radio.

“We should not be alarmed about the inter-departmental or inter-agency coordination because the whole Cabinet is united in fully supporting the programs of the President,” Coloma said.

Meanwhile, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, whose province is acknowledged as one of the top provinces in disaster management, said Lacson’s strong political will and anti-pork stand makes him tailor-fit for the job of reconstruction czar, which could effectively summon domestic and international support.

“Lacson is sure to build back ‘better, faster and cheaper’ and the President certainly could not make a better choice for this tough job,” the governor said.

“We are assured the reconstruction funds will go to where they are intended for; he has maintained a clean financial record and had criticized pork barrels, refusing to accept his allocations of such funds when he was a senator,” Salceda said.

Salceda had earlier raised the concern of appointing a reconstruction czar, saying that an effective reconstruction czar should be vested with ample prerogatives to direct and muster efforts and resources that will help put the country back on track.

He said the destruction wreaked by Typhoon Yolanda last month demands an equally massive government reconstruction and rehabilitation initiative, with a reconstruction czar who is knowledgeable in both disaster and sound fiscal management.

Citing Kinetic Analysis Corp’s estimate, Salceda who was former research director of UBS Warburg, said Yolanda wrought a mind-boggling P604 billion damage on the economy, or 5% of its gross domestic product (GDP), equivalent to $14 billion.

Salceda, who co-chairs the US$100-billion Green Climate Fund of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said he will exert efforts to operationalize the fund next year and complement the country reconstruction efforts with resources to help build up the country’s capability to cope with climate change.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Palace game plan on DAP bared By Maricel Cruz | Dec. 08, 2013 at 12:01am 8

MANILA - DESPITE denials from the Palace, an opposition leader claimed on Saturday that Malacañang is allegedly planning to use the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program to pummel justices of the Supreme Court to submit to the wishes of the Aquino administration.

“Malacanang cannot disavow any knowledge of the plan to impeach at least three justices of the high tribunal,” said Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, secretary general of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

“The game plan is to put pressure on the justices by using the impeachment gambit to blackmail them into favoring DAP,” Tiangco said as lawyers prepared to verbally argue the controversial pork barrel system before the high court.

“The ultimate goal is splitting the decision of the 15 justices and tipping the balance of power within the SC that may likely paralyze justices who are not submissive to Malacanang,” he added.

“[But] if the SC declares DAP constitutional, then it will render the PDAF ruling inutile. It would be like they only changed the name from [Priority Development Assistance Fund] to DAP,” Tiangco insisted.

Tiangco argued that if the court does so, Malacañang will be able to circumvent the high court’s earlier ruling on the PDAF and “whatever funds the legislators lost in PDAF, will simply be replaced by DAP.”

“The Palace will move heaven and earth to keep DAP legal and constitutional,” he said, adding that the recent privilege speech of Mindoro Oriental Reynaldo Umali was meant precisely to dangle DAP funds before congressmen.

“Umali knows that the numbers will solidify with the support of the Administration,” Tiangco said, adding that Umali is one of the prosecutors during the Corona impeachment in 2012 and was the one who illegally obtained bank records allegedly from a “small lady” to be presented as evidence.

“If the DAP was previously ‘extra rice,’ DAP will now become ‘unli-rice:’ Never-ending blessings for their political allies,” the congressman said, noting that 111 of the 292 congressmen are from the LP and that number excludes other presidential allies.

Tiangco said “the Palace, through Congressman Umali, has already raised the impeachment banner by making PDAF and other unfavorable rulings as an issue of judicial despotism.”

But the Palace disowned the pronouncement of Umali and said: “That is the own view of that lawmaker. The executive branch has nothing to do with that threat,” according to Presidential Communications Operations Office head Secretary herminio Coloma.

“We respect institutions and co-equal branches of government. And in every occasion, we are firm in saying that we respect the independence of the other branches of government,” Coloma said.

“We don’t have any intention of destabilizing institutions or making war or conflict with other agencies,” the Palace official added.

But Umali insisted that he had grounds to impeach justices of the high court for “betrayal of public trust” and he was already decided in filing an impeacment complaint.

The congressman protested the high court’s recent ruling that all forms of pork barrel funds are unconstitutional.

He also questioned the court’s alleged “despotism” when it disqualified Marinduque Rep. Regina Ongsiako-Reyes in favor of former congressman Lord Allan Jay Velasco, who is a son of Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco.

Umali said he will definitely file an impeachment complaint against three SC, but he did not identify them.

Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said Umali’s threat just proved that President Aquino and his allies in Congress were “die-hard defenders of pork.”

“This is just another arm-twisting tactic of the Palace,” Reyes said. “They are trying to blackmail the Supreme Court.”

“This is ridiculous. They are trying to scare the Supreme Court justices so they would get a favorable ruling on the DAP,” the Bayan official said.

He added that Umali’s threat was “utterly self-serving” because it was made in reaction to a ruling that stripped congressmen of their pork.

Tiangco urged the justices to never allow themselves to be blackmailed.

“The administration is worried that the Supreme Court may declare DAP unconstitutional like what it did with PDAF.

Malacañang is now mobilizing its allies in Congress to send a strong message to the justices because they are very much aware that a decision against DAP will have a damaging impact on Aquino and his administration,” Tiangco said.

“Now that it is already known that the DAP was used in the Renato Corona impeachment, the Supreme Court should kill the evil, before the evil kills them one by one. Giving in to what Malacañang wants is not an insurance of future immunity,” Tiangco added.

EARLIER NEWS REPORT FROM SUNSTAR.COM

Aquino speech on DAP draws mixed reactions By Arianne Caryl N. Casas Thursday, October 31, 2013

THE televised speech of President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday night defending the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) elicited mixed reactions from local officials in Davao City.

"Let me make it clear: The Disbursement Allocation Program is not pork barrel," he said in his message delivered from the President's Hall in Malacañang.

He said that of the DAP releases in 2011 and 2012, only nine percent was disbursed for projects suggested by legislators.

"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 additional revenues," Aquino said.

Support

Regional prosecutor Antonio Arellano said he supports the DAP as "an effective pump priming tool of fiscal policy."

"It provides wide latitude of choices in the determination of the best menu for the optimum utilization of scarce public resources," Arellano said.

He said the issue on the constitutionality of the DAP is "a matter of the Supreme Court to resolve".

"I hope the Court will interpret the constitutional provision on the realignment in the budget in favor of better economics rather than settle with the rigid, restrictive and counter development constitutional construction in the exercise of its role in adjudicating constitutional economic issues," he said.

Lawyer Israelito Torreon, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Davao del Sur chapter president, said the televised statement was Aquino's way of "exercising his freedom of speech in the light of confirmed evidence that his political opponents are trying to muddle the issue concerning DAP."

"When one's honor is clearly maligned in public, it is everyone's right, including the President's, to defend himself in public. Self-defense in libel is an accepted principle under Philippine jurisdiction," Torreon said.

Councilor Leo Avila said the justification of the president is “appreciated.”

"It helps that the president express his position regarding DAP and other issues," Avila said.

As expected, Davao City third district Representative Isidro Ungab, who heads the Committee on Appropriations of the 16th Congress, agreed with the president.

"I believe that there are some people confusing the issue between the PDAF and DAP as well as the cases filed in the courts related to the misuse of PDAF," Ungab said.

Disapproval

However, Bayan Muna Representative Karlos Yzagani Zarate said the only way to avoid corruption is to abolish the DAP, which is just practically the same as PDAF or pork barrel since it could still lead the people in the government to abuse of people's funds.

"Ang usapin ng DAP ay ang paggastos ng executive ng pondo ng gobyerno an walang pahintulot ng Kongreso at sa mga projects na hindi nakasaad sa batas, ito ay unconstitutional! Hindi porket nakaambag daw ito sa GDP ay majustify na ang unconstitutional actions ni PNoy," Zarate said.

"Kung seryoso ang paghabol ng Aquino sa mga tiwali at corrupt, dapat isinali na rin nito ang mga kaalyado na sangkot din sa PDAF at iba pang scandals," he added.

Lawyer Fatima Irene Tero Adin-Purisima, Pagbabago SMR convenor, echoed the same feedback with Zarate.

She said: "The people are angry and anxious to see pork abolished. The statement of PNoy will just anger people more because it gave nothing but a deliberate attempt to justify PDAF and DAP and to cover for the government's inaction on the real issues that these (PDAF and DAP) are just becoming an avenue for corruption."

She said while the people get no concrete actions from the government to defeat corruption, the call to abolish all forms of pork stands.

Councilor Joselle Villafuerte said it would be better for Aquino to hold all DAP and PDAF in all forms since the people want nothing but transparency and accountability.

"Release the COA report, PNoy should start by cleaning his own "house" -all cabinet members, senators, congressmen allies and foes should resign or go on leave while investigation is ongoing. Otherwise, the senate inquiry will be just another way to get back at the opposition and has no credibility whatsoever," Villafuerte said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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