THE PRESIDENT'S SOCIAL FUND ( PSF) ONE BIG OBA   

Off-budget accounts (OBAs) are defined as “accounts and funds that are not subject to annual appropriations by Congress and are accounted for separately under a different set of books.”
The President’s Social Fund (PSF) is one such account. It is funded by fixed percentage contributions from the income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). The PSF is used as a discretionary purse for various social advocacies of the President, including direct assistance to the poor. The amount disbursed annually depends on actual receipts. Previously, more than P600 million was disbursed but at present it is higher.
Malacañang has been criticized for the PSF, which is considered as one of the funds lumped together under the Special Purpose Fund (SPF), or President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s pork barrel.

The PSF cannot be scrapped because it is not part of the annual national budget, officials said. The other lump sum funds under the SPF are the calamity fund, the contingency fund and miscellaneous personnel benefits fund. Palace officials said the amount that goes into the PSF varies because, unlike other programs in the budget, it is not sourced from revenues of the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the Bureau of Customs but is essentially a Trust Fund. As of December 2012, funds from Pagcor alone amounted to P5.256 billion. The Commission on Audit (COA) describes these as PSF’s “net income share from Pagcor.” In separate interviews with The Manila Times, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said all funds, including OBAs, are being accounted for. “During this administration’s watch, all financial transactions are being subjected to regular auditing to ensure that these conform with good governance norms,” Coloma added. “Let there be a specific Bill of Particulars of any allegations of irregularities so these can be addressed properly,” he stressed. * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: 'Savings’ defined beyond SC’s ruling on DAP ‘unconstitutional and void’ – Philconsa  

A definition of “savings” contrary to the interpretation of the Supreme Court (SC) in its ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is unconstitutional and void, the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) said yesterday. In effect, Philconsa – through Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez as president and Manuel M. Lazaro as chairman – said that Congress cannot pass any legislation that would supersede a ruling of the SC in its interpretation and application of the Constitution. This was Philconsa’s reaction on what it described as “determined and graphic efforts of the Executive Department and Congress to redefine the meaning of ‘savings’” as a result of the SC decision on DAP. Citing American jurisprudence, Lazaro said “a constitutional decision of the US Supreme Court, may not be, in effect overruled by an enactment of Congress.” 

Both Lazaro and Romualdez said, quoting American jurisprudence that “it is the proper function of the judicial department to interpret laws, and by the very terms of the Constitution to interpret the supreme law” and “the court’s interpretation becomes obligatory and conclusive upon all departments and the whole people.”  VOID DAP ITEMS  --In a unanimous 13-0 vote, the SC ruled that the acts and practices under the DAP violated the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and the provision prohibiting inter-branch transfer of appropriations. Specifically, the SC struck down the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from implementing agencies and their use as savings prior to the end of fiscal year, cross-border transfers of savings of the Executive Branch to augment funds of agencies outside the department, and funding of projects and programs not covered by the General Appropriations Act (GAA). At the same time, the SC also voided the use of unprogrammed funds in the absence of a certification by the national treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets, a non-compliance with conditions in the GAA. The SC decision also declared that executive officials may be held liable for the funds under the DAP. * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Million People March anti-pork rally on Aug. 25   

MILLION MARCH 2--SNIPPET FROM INQUIRER NEWS VIDEO LAST OCTOBER, 2014: Thousands of anti-pork protesters gathered at the Ayala Triangle in Makati City Friday to reiterate their demand for the abolition of the pork barrel system   The fight against the pork barrel system is not yet over, several anti-pork groups declared on Wednesday as they scheduled another major anti-pork rally on August 25, a year after the Million People March. The rally will also coincide with the country’s celebration of National Heros Day. Abolish pork movement, one of the initiators of this year’s action, said in a statement that a sign up drive pushing for the passage of the People’s Initiative bill to ban the creation and use of any form of lump sum discretionary fund will be held simultaneously with a protest program along Roxas Boulevard near Luneta, in Manila.

The campaign is being supported by more than 70 Catholic bishops. “A year ago, we set out on a crusade against corruption in the pork barrel system. It has been a year and we were able to raise public consciousness about congressional and presidential pork, patronage politics and the national budget. We won against the PDAF and the DAP before the Supreme Court. However, the Aquino government has found ways to maintain the corrupt pork barrel system,” Monet Silvestre, musician and #abolishpork spokesman, said in a statement. “We now see Aquino’s moves that aim to institutionalize the Disbursement Acceleration Program as well as recent moves to maintain congressional pork through informal arrangements between departments and lawmakers. The system is truly rotten. Aquino continues to protect this system. The battle has not been won. We need to go out again, to stand up and sign up against pork,” Silvestre, who is among those who first aired the call for last year’s Million People March protest, added. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Militants solons taunt Aquino: ‘Marcos-wannabe’, ‘power-hungry’ 

Critics of President Benigno Aquino III in the House of Representatives Thursday assailed his new-found openness to pursue Charter Change as reflective of his dictatorial tendencies and hunger for power while his staunch allies, as expected, backed his decision.Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares described Aquino as “delusional and power-hungry” for thinking that there is public clamor for him to extend his term as President.“Aquino is delusional and power-hungry, thus, unfit to rule. His dictatorial ambition must be crushed. He must be ousted from office to prevent him from imposing his wicked plan,” Colmenares said in a statement.The Senior Deputy Minority Leader said Aquino’s announcement that he was considering pursuing Charter change to clip the Supreme Court’s power was akin to former President Ferdinand Marcos’ imposition of Martial Law. “[It’s] the worst kind of betrayal of Ninoy, Cory and the millions who suffered and fought to end Marcos tyrannical rule,” he said. Former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., the President’s father, opposed the Martial Law regime. Aquino's mother, the late former President Corazon Aquino, was the country's democracy icon credited for restoring democracy in the country after Marcos' ouster in 1986. Delusions of righteousness * READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino tells SC: File SALNs; The major issue here is transparency’ 

About time the Supreme Court justices come clean about the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) and their wealth, President Benigno Aquino III said on Friday. “The major issue here is transparency. How much is coming in, and where does it end up? That, after all, is the job of Congress,” Mr. Aquino said in the third part of his interview with TV5. The Supreme Court has rejected a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) request for copies of the justices’ statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) “for lack of sufficient basis.” Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has also asked the House of Representatives to exclude the judiciary from a justice committee inquiry into the JDF until the Supreme Court could resolve the government’s motion for reconsideration of a July 1 ruling that struck down President Aquino’s economic stimulus plan, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

For that, Mr. Aquino’s allies in the House have threatened to impeach Sereno, a move widely seen as retaliation for the Supreme Court’s adverse rulings on questioned government programs. Last year, the Supreme Court angered Congress by striking down the pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which financed development projects in congressional districts.  It’s in the Constitution --In his television interview, President Aquino reminded the justices about the constitutional provision that requires them to disclose their financial statements. “It’s in the Constitution. You need to file your SALN. We—the President, the Vice President, justices of the Supreme Court, heads of other constitutional commissions, and toward that end, the officers of the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] with flag rank—have to make this statement public. If you want, I can find it for you,” Mr. Aquino said. In the first part of the television interview, Mr. Aquino said he was now open to constitutional changes that would lift the presidential term limit but that did not mean he would seek a second term.
Judicial overreach  --* READ MORE...

ALSO: SC to ‘nit-picking’ Aquino: Justices don’t hide their SALNs 

Supreme Court justices are transparent and release their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) to those who meet the requirements, the Supreme Court’s spokesman said Saturday in response to President Benigno Aquino’s call for the magistrates to release these reports. To prove this point, the high court is set to release on Monday a list of people who have been given copies of the justices’ SALNs, said Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te. “Contrary to what has been reported, the SC Justices have not only been complying with the requirements on the SALN but have made these available upon compliance with the reasonable administrative requirements imposed by the Court,” Te said in a press statement. He said members of the media and civil society have been able to obtain copies of the magistrates’ SALNs.

Meanwhile, judiciary employees said they were set on continuing their silent red-and-black protest on Monday amid continuing attacks on the judiciary. “We were hoping that the situation would sober up, but it seems he (President Aquino) won’t,” said Jojo Guerrero, president of the Judiciary Employees Association of the Philippines (Judea).
“There is a rule that you cannot just get copies of the SALNs without a purpose… Why is he targetting the justices?” he added. In an interview on TV5, Aquino reminded magistrates about transparency and the need to file SALNs. Former Chief Justice Renato Corona lost his post in 2012 through a Malacañang-backed impeachment trial over his failure to publicly disclose an accurate SALN. * READ MORE...

ALSO MALAYA OPINION: DOUBTFUL IF AQUINO CAN REGAIN HIGH SATISFACTION RATING  

Take note that the Social Weather Stations survey showing a 16- point plunge net satisfaction for general performance of the Aquino Administration was conducted on June 27-30, 2014.From 45 percent last March, Aquino’s satisfaction rating dropped to 29 percent in the June survey.
This was before the Supreme Court unanimous decision declaring the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP unconstitutional. This was before Aquino went ballistic against the Supreme Court insisting his own interpretation of the Constitution forgetting that under our system of government the final arbiter when it comes to legal issues is the Supreme Court.

This is the lowest score given by the people to the Aquino administration which rode high with 64 percent satisfaction rating on its first year despite its embarrassing bungling of the Rizal Park hostage crisis in August 2010. Even its maddening incompetence in the typhoon Yolanda tragedy in November last year hardly made a dent in the public’s kind regard of President Aquino. In the June 2013 SWS survey, the Aquino administration got its highest satisfaction rating with 66 percent. From there, the decline started. A ten-point drop three months after (Sept. 2013- 56 percent). But many were surprised that it was only a slight five-point drop (51 percent) in a post- Yolanda survey in December 2013. Then the controversy over the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF which Malacañang was able to spin in their favor with the arrest of opposition senators – Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla. The March 2014 survey , which showed further decline of six points, breached the 50 percent mark which observers said should alarm Malacañang. Now, it’s 29 percent. * CONTINUE READING..


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

PSF one big OBA (Off-Budget Account)

MANILA, AUGUST 18, 2014 (MANILA TIMES) by JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER - Off-budget accounts (OBAs) are defined as “accounts and funds that are not subject to annual appropriations by Congress and are accounted for separately under a different set of books.”

The President’s Social Fund (PSF) is one such account. It is funded by fixed percentage contributions from the income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). The PSF is used as a discretionary purse for various social advocacies of the President, including direct assistance to the poor.

The amount disbursed annually depends on actual receipts. Previously, more than P600 million was disbursed but at present it is higher.

Malacañang has been criticized for the PSF, which is considered as one of the funds lumped together under the Special Purpose Fund (SPF), or President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s pork barrel.

The PSF cannot be scrapped because it is not part of the annual national budget, officials said.

The other lump sum funds under the SPF are the calamity fund, the contingency fund and miscellaneous personnel benefits fund.

Palace officials said the amount that goes into the PSF varies because, unlike other programs in the budget, it is not sourced from revenues of the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the Bureau of Customs but is essentially a Trust Fund.

As of December 2012, funds from Pagcor alone amounted to P5.256 billion. The Commission on Audit (COA) describes these as PSF’s “net income share from Pagcor.”

In separate interviews with The Manila Times, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said all funds, including OBAs, are being accounted for.

“During this administration’s watch, all financial transactions are being subjected to regular auditing to ensure that these conform with good governance norms,” Coloma added.

“Let there be a specific Bill of Particulars of any allegations of irregularities so these can be addressed properly,” he stressed.

* Abad, meanwhile, maintained that public funds, be they in-budget or off-budget, are scrutinized by COA.

“I don’t know how you can conclude that they’re not properly accounted for. These are public funds so COA audits them. Try Pagcor as example. Please check if their funds are not properly accounted for,” he said.

The Times had sent queries to Abad’s office beginning mid-July on the issue of OBA but got no response.

For the National Agri-Business Corp. (Nabcor), the use of O­BAs went under a cloud of suspicion following the agency’s involvement in the pork barrel scam. Many of its former officials are facing charges at the Sandiganbayan.

Nabcor was created during the Marcos administration as the business arm of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Subsequently, it was used as a conduit for various appropriations of the DA to implement various projects.

The Municipal Development Fund (MDF), meanwhile, is a loan revolving fund set up to provide credit to local government units (LGU) nationwide. Every year, the national government appropriates additional money to the equity of the fund, and this added equity is properly reflected as expenditure of the national government and income of the fund. Loan repayments, however, are retained as fund balance and used as credit assistance to LGUs without being included in the national budget. The average amount disbursed out of loan repayments was around P500 million.

A study funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said the bulk of OBAs are earmarked revenues, i.e., revenue receipts where the specific uses are already predetermined by law such as in the case of Pagcor and PCSO. Sound budgeting principles discourage revenue earmarking inasmuch as it hampers resource allocation decisions based on current economic need. Still, public sector budgeting is replete with examples of earmarking of revenues for various reasons.

“The work involved in generating a full accounting of OBAs in the government remains tremendous. The initial list provided in this study, however, is expected to serve as an eye-opener to the otherwise ‘hidden’ accounts in the national government. Subsequent work will require a more intensive analysis of the exact nature of the accounts, their sustainabi­lity, their usefulness and the quality of their financial management,” the paper noted.

It classified government financial accounts into two: budgetary accounts and OBAs.

Budgetary accounts represent transactions reflected in the annual national budget proposal that include those annually appropriated through the General Appropriations Act; those automatically appropriated and are, therefore, outside the GAA but are part of the annual budget program of the government; and those automatically appropriated, are not part of the annual budget program, but are generally reported in the annual budget documents.

On the other hand, OBAs re­present authorized transactions that are not reported in the annual budget documents but are covered by the regular audit of the Commission on Audit.

“Clearly, therefore, government agencies have bigger financial accountabilities than what is implied in the regular budget documents submitted to Congress. Specifically, extra-budgetary and off-budget accounts effectively increase agency resources without much public scrutiny,” the paper explained.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

'Savings’ defined beyond SC’s ruling on DAP ‘unconstitutional and void’ – Philconsa by Rey G. Panaligan August 12, 2014


ANTI-DAP. Demonstrators that gathered along Commonwealth Ave. during the last State of the Nation Address expressed their disgust over Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). While Aquino allies seek to redefine the term “savings” in the context of the DAP, parts of which the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional, the demonstrators decided to ridicule it with their own version of word play which resulted in the word “hinoldap”. (Photo by Alma J. Buelva)

A definition of “savings” contrary to the interpretation of the Supreme Court (SC) in its ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is unconstitutional and void, the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) said yesterday.

In effect, Philconsa – through Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez as president and Manuel M. Lazaro as chairman – said that Congress cannot pass any legislation that would supersede a ruling of the SC in its interpretation and application of the Constitution.

This was Philconsa’s reaction on what it described as “determined and graphic efforts of the Executive Department and Congress to redefine the meaning of ‘savings’” as a result of the SC decision on DAP.

Citing American jurisprudence, Lazaro said “a constitutional decision of the US Supreme Court, may not be, in effect overruled by an enactment of Congress.”

Both Lazaro and Romualdez said, quoting American jurisprudence that “it is the proper function of the judicial department to interpret laws, and by the very terms of the Constitution to interpret the supreme law” and “the court’s interpretation becomes obligatory and conclusive upon all departments and the whole people.”

VOID DAP ITEMS

In a unanimous 13-0 vote, the SC ruled that the acts and practices under the DAP violated the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and the provision prohibiting inter-branch transfer of appropriations.

Specifically, the SC struck down the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from implementing agencies and their use as savings prior to the end of fiscal year, cross-border transfers of savings of the Executive Branch to augment funds of agencies outside the department, and funding of projects and programs not covered by the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

At the same time, the SC also voided the use of unprogrammed funds in the absence of a certification by the national treasurer that the revenue collections exceeded the revenue targets, a non-compliance with conditions in the GAA.

The SC decision also declared that executive officials may be held liable for the funds under the DAP.

* In its motion for reconsideration, the Office of the President specifically asked the SC to declare:

(1)“Withdrawn obligated allotments and unreleased appropriations under the DAP are savings ;
(2) “Cross-border transfers under the DAP are constitutional;
(3) “The President augmented items with appropriation cover under the DAP ;
(4) “The use of the Unprogrammed Fund under the DAP complied with the conditions provided in the relevant General Appropriations Acts (GAAs);
(5) “Regardless of the nullification of certain acts and practices under the DAP and/or National Budget Circular No. 541, the operative fact doctrine does not operate to impute bad faith to authors, proponents and implementers who continue to enjoy the presumption of innocence and regularity in the performance of official functions and duties.”

Acting on the OP’s motion, the SC required the petitioners against DAP to submit their comments. The petitioners against DAP are former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr., the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), lawyers Jose Malvar Villegas Jr. and Manuelito Luna; Philconsa; the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP); the militant Bayan Muna, Kabataan and Gabriela party-list groups; and Christian sects led by Greco Belgica.

Named respondents in almost all the petitions are President Aquino, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr. of the House of Representatives, Executive Secretary Paquito N.Ochoa Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, and National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon.

Several petitioners have asked the SC to also declare unconstitutional the funds from the DAP that were used for programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) beyond the budget originally allocated under the General Appropriations Act.

DANGEROUS PRECEDENT

In a motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners led by Belgica, the SC was told that President Aquino, in many occasions, augmented or added funds from government savings for PAPs in amounts that exceeded many times their original funding under the GAA.

“To do so would mean giving the President more money for a project that he failed to properly assess and evaluate how much it would cost to implement. To allow him to use more money than he initially determined would be required for a certain project would be to disregard the process of budgeting required to be observed under the law,” the petitioners said.

Million People March anti-pork rally on Aug. 25 by Jomari Guillermo
August 13, 2014


MILLION MARCH 2--SNIPPET FROM INQUIRER NEWS VIDEO LAST OCTOBER, 2014:
Thousands of anti-pork protesters gathered at the Ayala Triangle in Makati City Friday to reiterate their demand for the abolition of the pork barrel system

The fight against the pork barrel system is not yet over, several anti-pork groups declared on Wednesday as they scheduled another major anti-pork rally on August 25, a year after the Million People March.

The rally will also coincide with the country’s celebration of National Heros Day.

Abolish pork movement, one of the initiators of this year’s action, said in a statement that a sign up drive pushing for the passage of the People’s Initiative bill to ban the creation and use of any form of lump sum discretionary fund will be held simultaneously with a protest program along Roxas Boulevard near Luneta, in Manila. The campaign is being supported by more than 70 Catholic bishops.

“A year ago, we set out on a crusade against corruption in the pork barrel system. It has been a year and we were able to raise public consciousness about congressional and presidential pork, patronage politics and the national budget. We won against the PDAF and the DAP before the Supreme Court. However, the Aquino government has found ways to maintain the corrupt pork barrel system,” Monet Silvestre, musician and #abolishpork spokesman, said in a statement.

“We now see Aquino’s moves that aim to institutionalize the Disbursement Acceleration Program as well as recent moves to maintain congressional pork through informal arrangements between departments and lawmakers. The system is truly rotten. Aquino continues to protect this system. The battle has not been won. We need to go out again, to stand up and sign up against pork,” Silvestre, who is among those who first aired the call for last year’s Million People March protest, added.

* In an open letter invitation posted on Abolish Pork Movement’s Facebook page, the groups called on the public to again join and gather to call for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

“Our efforts were not in vain. We were able to uncover many forms of pork barrel that corrupted our government. We have caused the filing of petitions to nullify the PDAF, the misuse of the Malampaya fund and the pooling and juggling of funds for the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Through our vigilance, these mechanisms have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court,” it said.

“Our fight however is far from over. Our highest government officials continue to defend and maintain the pork barrel. Most public officials and private entities who benefited from the pork barrel system have not been made to account. There is still no transparency in the use of the public funds. the pork barrel system is still in place.”

The invitation was signed by Silvestre, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz, Sister Mary John Mananzan, Mae Paner of Scrap Pork Network, Carol Araullo of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Atty. Harry roque of Concerned Citizens Movement, Rev. Marie Sol Villalon of the United Methodist Church and Church People’s Alliance Against Pork Barrel, and Martin Dino of the Volunteers against crime and corruption.

On August 15, youth and students will hold a noise barage called “DAPat Mag-ingay!” in front of their schools along Taft Avenue, Mehan Garden, Morayta and Katipunan starting 4p.m.

Meanwhile, anti-pork groups will be converging in Cebu on August 23 to attend the People’s Congress which will approve the draft bill that will be the subject of the People’s Initiative.

“Instead of discussing a second term for Aquino, or the political tie-ups and alliances among the politicians, we should be discussing issues such as the hidden congressional pork exposed by Rep. Tinio. We should be discussing how to make Aquino accountable for DAP and how to thwart his plan to make the illegal DAP schemes part of the 2015 budget.

The call for a second term for Aquino is meant to distract the public from the issue of accountability in the DAP and the continuing existence of the pork barrel system. The public will not be fooled. We call on the people to undertake nationwide actions on August 25, to demand Aquino’s accountability and to push for the abolition of all forms of pork,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr. said.

Other groups who will join the protest are the Scrap Pork Network, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, the Concerned Citizens Movement, Babae Laban sa Katiwalian, Youth ACT Now, Whistleblowers Association, BAYAN, Artista Kontra Korapsyon, and various sectoral groups, unions and associations.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Militants solons taunt Aquino: ‘Marcos-wannabe’, ‘power-hungry’ By XIANNE ARCANGEL,GMA NewsAugust 14, 2014 8:57pm 145 22 0 193  Tags: Benigno Aquino III

Critics of President Benigno Aquino III in the House of Representatives Thursday assailed his new-found openness to pursue Charter Change as reflective of his dictatorial tendencies and hunger for power while his staunch allies, as expected, backed his decision.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares described Aquino as “delusional and power-hungry” for thinking that there is public clamor for him to extend his term as President.

“Aquino is delusional and power-hungry, thus, unfit to rule. His dictatorial ambition must be crushed. He must be ousted from office to prevent him from imposing his wicked plan,” Colmenares said in a statement.

The Senior Deputy Minority Leader said Aquino’s announcement that he was considering pursuing Charter change to clip the Supreme Court’s power was akin to former President Ferdinand Marcos’ imposition of Martial Law.

“[It’s] the worst kind of betrayal of Ninoy, Cory and the millions who suffered and fought to end Marcos tyrannical rule,” he said.

Former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., the President’s father, opposed the Martial Law regime. Aquino's mother, the late former President Corazon Aquino, was the country's democracy icon credited for restoring democracy in the country after Marcos' ouster in 1986.

Delusions of righteousness

* In a separate statement, ACT-Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio called the President a "Marcos wannabe" for considering extending his stay in office.

"Aquino proves how grand delusions of righteousness can foster dictatorial tendencies. After usurping Congressional power of the purse through his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), he now wants to clip the powers of the Supreme Court that called him out for doing so. Who knew that Daang Matuwid could turn out to be a shortcut to tyranny? He may be an Aquino but he's nothing more than a Marcos wannabe," he said.

In a television interview Wednesday, Aquino hinted that a change in the Constitution could pave the way for a review of the Supreme Court's powers and “restore” the balance between the three branches of the government.

The SC and executive branch have been at odds after the high tribunal struck down as unconstitutional certain provisions of the DAP.

Asked if Charter change (Cha-cha) would be used to lift the six-year term limit for the president and allow him to run for a second term, Aquino said, “Nung pinasukan ko ito, ang tanda ko one term of six years...Ngayon, after having said that, syempre ang mga boss ko, kelangan kong pakinggan ’yon.”

The Constitution provides for a six-year presidential term. The incumbent President is barred from seeking re-election.

Sustain momentum

But for Liberal Party (LP) stalwart Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, six years is not enough for a "good President" like Aquino since he needs more time to sustain the reforms he started.

Now that Aquino has expressed his openness to Charter change, Evardone said a move to amend the Constitution was "very doable either through people's initiative or constituent assembly."

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has launched a Cha-cha initiative in Congress, titled Resolution of Both Houses No. 1. It sought to amend the following articles of the Constitution: Article II or the Declaration of State Principles and Policies, Article XII on National Economy and Patrimony, and Article XVI which contains sections on foreign ownership. It was introduced to the plenary last May.

Another staunch Aquino ally, Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, described Aquino's change of heart as the start of an "exciting turn of events" since it would bolster the chances of Cha-Cha measures getting approved in Congress.

"I am sure it (call for Charter Change) will gather support in both Houses. We have a determined President with a strong sense of political will. This is democracy in action," he said in a text message. —NB, GMA News

FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino tells SC: File SALNs By TJ Burgonio and Niña P. Calleja |Philippine Daily Inquirer2:31 am | Saturday, August 16th, 2014

‘The major issue here is transparency’‘


INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

About time the Supreme Court justices come clean about the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) and their wealth, President Benigno Aquino III said on Friday.

“The major issue here is transparency. How much is coming in, and where does it end up? That, after all, is the job of Congress,” Mr. Aquino said in the third part of his interview with TV5.

The Supreme Court has rejected a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) request for copies of the justices’ statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) “for lack of sufficient basis.”

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has also asked the House of Representatives to exclude the judiciary from a justice committee inquiry into the JDF until the Supreme Court could resolve the government’s motion for reconsideration of a July 1 ruling that struck down President Aquino’s economic stimulus plan, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

For that, Mr. Aquino’s allies in the House have threatened to impeach Sereno, a move widely seen as retaliation for the Supreme Court’s adverse rulings on questioned government programs.

Last year, the Supreme Court angered Congress by striking down the pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which financed development projects in congressional districts.

It’s in the Constitution

In his television interview, President Aquino reminded the justices about the constitutional provision that requires them to disclose their financial statements.

“It’s in the Constitution. You need to file your SALN. We—the President, the Vice President, justices of the Supreme Court, heads of other constitutional commissions, and toward that end, the officers of the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] with flag rank—have to make this statement public. If you want, I can find it for you,” Mr. Aquino said.

In the first part of the television interview, Mr. Aquino said he was now open to constitutional changes that would lift the presidential term limit but that did not mean he would seek a second term.

Judicial overreach

* But he complained that the checks and balances in the government had faded and the Supreme Court now had the power to overrule Congress and the executive branch.

He was referring to the Supreme Court’s ruling that declared the DAP unconstitutional, which drew his ire and drove him to threaten the justices with impeachment.

Despite the locking of horns between Malacañang and the Supreme Court, Mr. Aquino on Friday said there would be no constitutional crisis.

“We have not reached a constitutional crisis. We’re trying to act as the father of the nation and pacify all,” Mr. Aquino said.

“There were those who have told me, ‘After you’ve been slapped, insulted and trampled upon, you’re going to offer the other cheek?’ I replied: ‘Better that than getting mired in conflict.’ It’s important that there’s no fried chicken,” the President said, using a colloquialism for pride.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Vice President Jejomar Binay blamed Mr. Aquino’s combative stance on his advisers who have “selfish interests,” saying they were pushing him into a direct confrontation with the judiciary that could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.

Binay made no direct reference to Mr. Aquino, but it was clear in the statement that he opposed the President’s plan to amend the Constitution to lift the presidential term limit, which would allow him to run for a second term, and remove the power of the Supreme Court to review executive and legislative acts.

He said Mr. Aquino’s advisers were also imperiling the President’s chance to leave a positive legacy after serving his term.

Foundations of democracy

“Those advising the President to pursue a course that will lead to a . . . confrontation with the Supreme Court are bringing our country to the brink of a political and constitutional crisis,” Binay said.

Binay said there was nothing wrong with checks and balances, stressing that “these are the foundations of democracy.”

“When the Supreme Court declared the Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional, it was in exercise of its power and duty as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution ratified during the time of President Cory Aquino,” he said.

He said the judiciary is explicitly mandated by the Constitution “to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government.”

“This was included precisely to prevent a situation where the judiciary bends to the will of one branch or of one man, as was the case during martial law,” he said.

Respect for one another

Binay stressed that “a democracy obligates the three coequal branches—executive, judiciary and legislature—to respect each one’s independence and recognize each one’s powers, duties and limitations set by the Constitution.”

Binay, leader of the nominally opposition United Nationalist Alliance, blamed Mr. Aquino’s advisers for the controversy.

“They are also putting in peril the President’s chance to leave a positive legacy to the people. In doing so, they invoke the name of public interest. To blur the delineation between their selfish interest and public interest is dangerous and despotic,” Binay said.

Binay said he had always been opposed to constitutional amendments, except to the Constitution’s economic provisions.

Childhood dream

Binay, who also heads the government’s housing program, traveled to Legazpi City in Albay province to meet with regional officials on housing matters. There he told reporters that he would run for president in 2016 despite the possibility of Mr. Aquino’s seeking a second term.

He said becoming president of the Philippines was his childhood dream and that his 21 years of experience as mayor of Makati City would serve him well in running the country from Malacañang.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, an ally of the President, said he did not think Mr. Aquino would pursue a second term, but he was happy that at least the President had abandoned his opposition to amending the Constitution.

Divisive move

Former Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, a member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution, warned that Mr. Aquino’s seeking a second term would divide the nation.

“Learning from our experience with previous Philippine presidents who explored term extension, this idea of one more term for the incumbent President will be divisive for the country,” Sarmiento said in a text message to the Inquirer.

Instead of campaigning for a second term, Mr. Aquino should pursue socially innovative programs for the poor during the last two years of his term, Sarmiento said. With reports from Tarra Quismundo in Manila and Michael B. Jaucian and Juan Escandor, Inquirer Southern Luzon

SC to ‘nit-picking’ Aquino: Justices don’t hide their SALNs By Tarra Quismundo |Philippine Daily Inquirer2:12 pm | Saturday, August 16th, 2014


President Benigno Aquino. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Supreme Court justices are transparent and release their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) to those who meet the requirements, the Supreme Court’s spokesman said Saturday in response to President Benigno Aquino’s call for the magistrates to release these reports.

To prove this point, the high court is set to release on Monday a list of people who have been given copies of the justices’ SALNs, said Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te.

“Contrary to what has been reported, the SC Justices have not only been complying with the requirements on the SALN but have made these available upon compliance with the reasonable administrative requirements imposed by the Court,” Te said in a press statement.

He said members of the media and civil society have been able to obtain copies of the magistrates’ SALNs.

Meanwhile, judiciary employees said they were set on continuing their silent red-and-black protest on Monday amid continuing attacks on the judiciary.

“We were hoping that the situation would sober up, but it seems he (President Aquino) won’t,” said Jojo Guerrero, president of the Judiciary Employees Association of the Philippines (Judea).

“There is a rule that you cannot just get copies of the SALNs without a purpose… Why is he targetting the justices?” he added.

In an interview on TV5, Aquino reminded magistrates about transparency and the need to file SALNs. Former Chief Justice Renato Corona lost his post in 2012 through a Malacañang-backed impeachment trial over his failure to publicly disclose an accurate SALN.

* The statement was the latest in a string of criticisms Aquino has levelled against the judiciary, including his claim that the magistrates’ overreaching powers had disturbed the system of checks and balances among co-equal branches of government.

Last month, he warned of a “collision” between Malacañang and the judiciary over the latter’s ruling striking down the administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program as unconstitutional.

The government has a pending motion for reconsideration of the ruling, which said that certain actions of the administration under the DAP were a usurpation of Congress’ exclusive power of the purse such as the realignment of funds Malacañang claimed were savings and the funding of projects that were not specifically provided for in the national budget.

Read: Palace asked to answer anti-DAP petitioners’ motion

Amid these cracks between the two co-equal branches, Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares last month complained that the high court had twice declined her requests for copies of the justices’ SALNs although she claimed to have complied with the court’s requirements.

On June 17, the Supreme Court en banc thumbed down “for lack of sufficient basis” Henares’ request for the SALNs of justices from 2003 to 2012 as part of a tax investigation and a probe into how a certain Ma’am Arlene had allegedly fixing cases in the judiciary for moneyed clients.

She said the Supreme Court magistrates were “creating an exception for themselves” in denying her request.

The high court said then that its rejection of Henares’ request “must be contextualized, based on the reasons she has given in her request.”

“Please note that the Supreme Court has never said they are exempt from the SALN requirement nor that they are creating a new rule for themselves. That members of the media and civil society, including law students, have been able to obtain copies of various SALNs of the justices is proof enough that the SC justices are not hiding anything,” Te said in response to Henares’ complaint.

Henares first filed her request on December 9, 2013 but it was not notarized and lacked the second page of the standard request form, in which the requesting party is required to write the reason for the request. The application also did not include a required photocopy of a government issued identification card.

Henares refiled the application on February 10, 2014, this time notarized and clearly stating the intent of her request: “For tax investigation purposes pursuant to Section 5(B) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 and in relation to the Ma’am Arlene Controversy in the Judiciary.”

Both requests also contained a disclosure that the BIR “may have pending cases with some of the divisions of the Court of Appeals,” which is under the high court.

FROM MALAYA

DOUBTFUL IF AQUINO CAN REGAIN HIGH SATISFACTION RATING  By Ellen Tordesillas | August 13, 2014


By Ellen Tordesillas

Take note that the Social Weather Stations survey showing a 16- point plunge net satisfaction for general performance of the Aquino Administration was conducted on June 27-30, 2014.

From 45 percent last March, Aquino’s satisfaction rating dropped to 29 percent in the June survey.

This was before the Supreme Court unanimous decision declaring the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP unconstitutional. This was before Aquino went ballistic against the Supreme Court insisting his own interpretation of the Constitution forgetting that under our system of government the final arbiter when it comes to legal issues is the Supreme Court.

This is the lowest score given by the people to the Aquino administration which rode high with 64 percent satisfaction rating on its first year despite its embarrassing bungling of the Rizal Park hostage crisis in August 2010.

Even its maddening incompetence in the typhoon Yolanda tragedy in November last year hardly made a dent in the public’s kind regard of President Aquino.

In the June 2013 SWS survey, the Aquino administration got its highest satisfaction rating with 66 percent. From there, the decline started. A ten-point drop three months after (Sept. 2013- 56 percent). But many were surprised that it was only a slight five-point drop (51 percent) in a post- Yolanda survey in December 2013.

Then the controversy over the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF which Malacañang was able to spin in their favor with the arrest of opposition senators – Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla. The March 2014 survey , which showed further decline of six points, breached the 50 percent mark which observers said should alarm Malacañang.

Now, it’s 29 percent.

* Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said they are not bothered by the steep decline saying it is “not insurmountable” adding that the weight of the President’s endorsement for his successor in the 2016 elections is undiminished.

He earlier described Aquino’s endorsement power for 2016 as “lethal.”

Let’s see in the next survey after the DAP controversy.

It is also worth noting that the President got a “good” rating in “providing enough supply of electricity” at 45 percent. I dread how it would be in summer of next year per warnings of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.

***

It is public knowledge that the President’s political family is divided into factions, the most prominent of them are the Liberal Party and the Binay (Vice President Jejomar Binay) factions.
In the Liberal Party, the crack is becoming evident.

Last Monday at the Singapore National Day reception, I asked Senate President Franklin Drilon about talk on a term extension for the President.

Drilon said Charter Change is needed to extend the President’s term and as far as he knows, the President is “averse to any constitutional change.”

I took it to mean that he was against another term for the President which was floated by fellow Liberal Party leader , Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

So I asked, “So you don’t agree with Mar Roxas?”

Instead of a simple “yes” or “No”, he replied, “This is not a place for interview.”

Ang taray!
 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE