The theme of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s interminable privilege speech, “The untold PDAF story that the people should know”, is selective justice is injustice or as we say in Tagalog, “Bakit kami lang?”
He said, “We have been singled out, Mr. President, as our people should know, in the so-called 10-billion peso PDAF scam.”
As proof of being singled out, he pointed to 82 foundations, numerous local government units, and other members of Congress mentioned in the COA report as also having engaged in questionable transactions.
“What makes us so special Chairman Pulido-Tan?” he asked the chair of the Commission on Audit.
Yes, Madame Chair, what makes him and his co-accused so special?
Nothing except that they were stupid enough to get caught. The others who remain uncharged had enough smarts not to partner with Janet Napoles. As we would say in Tagalog, Oo maraming gago sa gobyerno, hindi lang kayo, ngunit mukhang kayo lang ang gagong bobo. Sa karami-raming questionable NGOs na pagpipilian ninyo na maka-partner, bakit si Napoles pa ang pinili ninyo? Stroke of genius po ba yun?
Contrary to what Sen. Estrada believes, he and his friends were not singled out by “certain institutions, like the media, the Commission on Audit, the Department of Budget and Management, and even the Blue Ribbon Committee of the Senate”, they were singled out by whistleblowers who provided the authorities with a truckload of documents detailing their transactions. And so they became the low-hanging fruits in a vast orchard of crooks.
Sexy, Pogi, and Tanda will not be the only ones charged, there will be others, but the distinction of being the first fruits picked will belong to them. They could also earn a further distinction – if they pursue the line that they did not know that their most trusted staffers were engaged in unauthorized criminal activities – of being the first senators to be charged with plunder complexed with stupidity.
There was also another interesting, and probably unwitting, revelation by Sen. Estrada, one that raised the question, “on which side of the political fence was he during Gloria Arroyo’s nine-year rule?”
He said, “During the administration of President Gloria Arroyo, it was a known fact that those who were not friendly, or allies of her government had to beg for the release of their PDAF and infrastructure funds. Some of us just totally gave up and chose not to avail of our allocations because we knew that we will not get any releases because we are from the opposition. We know too that the executive has used the releases for PDAF and infrastructure projects as a form of reward or incentive to secure the support of legislators for or against certain pet legislations or for other political purposes.”
Ano ba yan pinagsasabi mo, Senator?
Sen. Estrada was with the opposition and yet he received hundreds of millions in PDAF from Gloria Arroyo. How did that happen? Was he or was he not with the opposition? Furthermore, did he recieve PDAF from Gloria “as a form of reward or incentive to secure the support of legislators for or against certain pet legislations or for other political purposes”?
Finally, I feel sorry for impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona who rejoiced when he heard Sen. Estrada say, “Hahayaan ko na ang taong bayan ang gumawa ng konklusyon kung ito ay totoo o hindi, pero ito ang aking maidadagdag sa kwento — after the conviction of the former chief justice, those who voted to convict were allotted an additional 50 million pesos as provided in a private and confidential letter memorandum of the then chair of the senate finance committee.”
Corona immediately issued a statement, “Nagpapasalamat ako sa Diyos sa bindikasyon na ibinigay niya sa akin sa araw na ito. Hindi ako nagulat sa rebelasyon ni Sen Estrada sapagka’t kinompirma lamang niya ang alam namin at ng marami sa ating mga kababayan.”
Sorry Chief but Jinggoy God took back whatever vindication He gave you.
During the interpellation period, Sen. Enrile, who as Senate President presided over Corona’s impeachment trial, asked Jinggoy God (JG) if He was making bribery accusations. JG said He was approached by someone but was not offered a bribe. Sen. Drilon then asked, “But categorically, You can state it was not a bribe?” JG replied, “It was not a bribe. It was never a bribe.” Then Enrile asked, “It was simply an appeal?” And JG replied, “It was simply an appeal. There [were] no talks of giving a reward.”
And so ex-Chief Justice Corona still awaits vindication. That’s what he gets for elevating Jinggoy Estrada to Godhood.
Now can we move on and let the NBI and the Ombudsman do their jobs? Jails are waiting.
Q: Alam naman po namin na hindi nagbibigay ng timeline para sa mga ganitong operasyon pero madami po ang nagtatanong, may kasiguruhan po ba na matatapos ito o hindi na ito aabot sa susunod na linggo?
President Aquino: Siguro ang dapat na tanong doon: Importante ba ‘yung oras kung kailan tatapusin ‘to o importante ba ‘yung hostages na natitira pa? At sa aking pananaw, importante ‘yung buhay. So magdidikta ng kailan matatapos ito: ‘yung kakayahan natin, ‘yung intelligence information natin, ‘yung abilidad natin na mailayo sa kapahamakan yung mga hostages na natitira. So iyon ang first priority. Kung puro kalaban ang nandoon, siyempre ibang usapan ‘yon, pero mayroon pa ring hostages.
Q: As we speak, sir, ilang hostages po ba ngayon ‘yong hawak pa?
President Aquino: About 20.
Q: Sir, ano na po ang naging impact ng krisis na ito, hindi lamang sa Zamboanga City, kundi sa bansa natin?
President Aquino: Well, bago nito ‘no, ‘yong sa English, “posturing” ni Misuari parang medyo, parang ang hirap unawain. Nagtawag ng independence pero nagsabing ituloy ‘yong peace process. ‘Pag nag-a-assemble, tinatawag nilang “peaceful rally.” Dito, sinubukan nilang i-push ‘yong envelope–’yong tolerance ng gobyerno. Maglalakad sa ibang hindi naman kabilang ng ARMM, armado. Hindi pwede ‘yon. ‘Pag binibigyan mo ng lagim o binibigyan mo ng dahilan para matakot ang mga mamamayang nananahimik, tutugunan ka ng gobyerno.
Q: Sir, how involved are you in the decision making in order to solve this crisis here in Zamboanga?
President Aquino: I’m both Commander-in-chief and President. Therefore, at the end of the day, everything is my responsibility. So, I’m very involved. From everything, to getting briefed and putting some of my inputs into the security operations. Mayroon din ‘yong others who make the effects of the crisis less; that means ‘yong DSWD, I get briefed, I asked them what is needed etc.; authorized the releases of funds; to talk to Bangko Sentral to ensure that the cash supply–’yong physical cash supply, is present; to tell DTI, DOTC, and DA to ensure that basic food stuffs are available, from the time before I left Manila to the present, to include not just Zamboanga City but BASULTA.
Q: Sir, kamusta po ‘yong war room? Balita kasi namin parang madaling araw kayo nagigising, talagang nagco-command kayo sa different heads in order to solve this crisis?
President Aquino: Mahirap naman siguro magbigay ng image na nagma-micromanage ako. Hindi. In-assign natin bawat tao sa puwesto dahil may paniniwala tayo na may kakayahan sila na tugunan ang kanilang responsibilidad. Kung minsan, mayroon tayong katanungan, hinihingan natin ng clarification, at sinisigurado rin natin, kaya nagpunta din tayo dito… Alam mo noong bago ako umabot dito, Friday, nag-uusap kami, telepono, may video conferencing na kailangan i-improve, medyo ‘yong layo baka magkaroon ng hindi klaro na pag-unawa doon sa ating mga kautusan. So nagpunta tayo dito para mas mabilis ‘yong pagbigay ng impormasyon at pagbigay din ng desisyon, at iklaro ang anuman ang kailangang klaruhin, either doon sa mga konsepto o doon sa desisyon na ating pinaiiral.
Q: Sir, sa kabila po ng patuloy na ginagawang operasyon, may ginagawa pa rin po ba ang pamahalaan na negosasyon sa MNLF?
President Aquino: Mayroon. Kaya nga nililiwanag natin na itong katunggali natin sa kasalulukyan ‘yong MNLF na Misuari na grupo. Mayroong mga ibang grupo ng MNLF. Siguro ang dapat naman nating ipaalala ulit sa sambayanan na sila mismo, ‘yung mga ibang pakasyon, ay nagkondena nitong kasalukuyang pangyayari mula noong umpisa pa. So ‘yung patakaran natin, ‘yung handang makipag-usap ng mapayapa at makipagdiyalogo ay talagang haharapin, ine-encourage natin.
‘Yung tao namang maglalagay sa lahat ng mamamayan sa panganib ay talaga namang haharapin din ng estado. So kung mapayapa kang haharap, mapayapa kang haharapin ng gobyerno para magkaroon ng kaayusan. At ‘yung, sa English, ‘yung “permanent peace.” Pero kung ang gusto mo naman ay pairalin lang ‘yung sa iyo at maghahasik ka ng lagim sa nakararami, hindi rin papayagan ng gobyerno ‘yon.
Q: Sa ngayon, sir, makikipag-usap pa ba tayo sa kanila o sila makikipagusap pa rin ba sa pamahalaan?
President Aquino: Well, nitong linggong ito, mayroon dapat sa Indonesia eh. At sa totoo lang, inaasahan natin na sana natuloy ‘yon kaya lang dumating ito at tumitibay ang ebidensya na may kinalaman si Chairman Misuari dito. So, isa dapat siya sa kausap sa Indonesia, at biglang nagbago siya at ang kanyang track. O di siyempre mayroon tayong necessary reaction doon.
Q: Hindi na po mangyayari ‘yung sa Indonesia na usapan?
President Aquino: Hahamunin pa rin natin dahil doon sa mga paksyon sa MNLF na talaga namang gustong tapusin ang process, eh bakit natin ititigil? Pero doon naman sa talagang gustong manggulo, eh hindi rin natin papayagan. Kaso ang diretsahang tugon sa tanong mo, nasa kanila ‘yan kung saan ang gusto nilang puntahan, pero tayo handang makipagusap ng kapayapaan pero handa rin tayong kumilos kung sila nga ay nagbigay ng kapahamakan sa ibang mamamayan.
Q: Mr. President, buenas tardes.
President Aquino: Buenas tardes.
Q: Mr. President, marami na pong krisis na pinagdaanan ‘yong Zamboanga, at ito pong krisis na ito daang libong Zamboangeños po ang na-displace. Tanong po ng lahat, tanong po ng Zamboangeños: Kailan po ito matatapos at ano po ang katiyakang maibibigay ninyo sa mga Zamboangeños na hindi na po ito mauulit pang muli? Thank you po. Muchos gracias.
President Aquino: “Hindi na mauulit muli.” Alam ninyo, uulitin ko, saan tayo nagmula: Nagsalita ng independence ‘pag tinanong mo kung sino ang nakarinig or mayroon ba tayong photographic evidence, recordings, videographic evidence na he declared independence. Ang balik sa atin ng ating intelligence community walang diretsahang nagsabi nag-declare siya ng independence. Ang mga nagsasabi lang ay ‘yong mga taong nakarinig diumano sa kanya. ‘Pag dumating doon sa specifics ano ba ang ibig sabihin nitong declaration of independence, ang sabi n’ya tuloy ‘yung peace process, ‘yung tripartite review–lahat n’on. Tinanggal n’ya ‘yong elements ng sedition at rebellion na calling for an armed uprising at saka depriving the government of authority over its territory. Itong biglang ginawa nila, malalaman natin later on na after matapos ng lahat ng ito: Ito ba talagang pumoporma lang kayo o talagang ang intensyon n’yo ay sumubok talagang magkalat ng kaguluhan sa napakaraming lugar?
Anong assurance sa ating hindi na mauulit ito? Siyempre pagbubutihin pa natin lalo na ang ating intel services. Siguro dapat makita natin dito, noong umusbong na ang krisis, handa na ang security forces pero more significantly, ‘yung sinabi ko nga sa inyo marami ring puwersa nang nag-umpisa, nang nagbakbakan sa dagat hindi pa sa lupa, nagkalat-kalat ‘yong kanilang tinatayang dalawang daang puwersa–hindi nakamask. Pero the following day nakuha nating mailipat lahat ng forces para magkaroon ng overwhelming force laban sa kanila. Kaya ulit, nakita naman natin, imbes na mapalawak ‘yong teritoryong nababalot sa dilim, eh napaliit nang napaliit mula noong unang araw.
So, eto siguro–paano natin masasabing “wala nang mangyayaring ganito?” Number one, bawas ‘yong puwersa nila. Number two, may demonstration kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng gobyerno ‘pag sinabi niyang handa at tutugunan o haharapin kung anuman ang pagsubok na gagawin sa kanya. Dito siguro baka nag-isip silang mahabang magda-drama tayo na parang may somewhat of a balance. Dito palagay ko dinemonstrate [demonstrate] ng estado na mabigat ang puwersa ng estado at handang gamitin at gagamitin ‘to. So ‘yong iba na nag-iisip ng ganitong kilos, mapapag-isip. Gagawin ba n’yo ‘to? ‘Di naman kayo magkakaroon ng publicity for a day. Talagang nandyan na–ano ba sa Tagalog ‘yun–encirlced na kayo at pinakitang hindi kayo ganoong kalakas na pwersa.
Ngayon, puwede ko bang sabihin na may guarantee ‘yung walang terrorist activities? Palagay ko walang bansang puwedeng maggarantiya na walang terrorism. Pero mapapangako ko sa inyo, talagang pinipilit natin na, number one, madagdagan ‘yung puwersa ng ating kasundaluhan-kapulisan. May kakulangan tayo talaga doon. Naalala n’yo ‘yung sinabi ko naman sa inyo noong araw. ‘Yong ating kapulisan-kasundauhan eh eksato ang bilang noong panahon ng EDSA. EDSA, ‘yung 250,000 natin nagbabantay sa 50 million. Ngayon ‘yong 250,000 nagbabantay sa 95 million. Mayroon pa tayong problema sa ating territorial waters, amongst other things.
So, ayaw naman nating bigyan ng mission ang sinuman na mahirap gawin so bibigyan natin ang kaukulanga–binigyan at bibigyan ng kakulangang kasangkapan at tauhan para magampanan ang kanilang mission. At the end of the day, ‘yong pakikipagtulungan ng publiko ang malaking bagay na madadagdagan ‘yung kakayahan ng ating gobyerno.
Mayroong mga reports na parang pinaghandaan ito ng one year. Mayroong nagsasabing baka nag-smuggle sila dito sa Zamboanga City nang medyo mahaba-habang panahon. Siyempre ang aking mga katanungan: Paano nakapaghanda nang ganyang katagal na hindi napansin? Siguro naman mayroong mga nakapansin ng ibang bagay dito at diyan, at sana napaalam sa kaukulang otoridad. Pero hindi nangyari ‘yon. So gusto ko ring malaman paano ba natin matatakpan ang ganyang sitwasyon.
Q: Ano po ang maibibigay n’yong tulong sa mga Zamboangeños?
President Aquino: Doon muna tayo sa mga nasunog na bahay. Siyempre nakikipag-ugnayan kami kay Mayor Climaco dahil mayroon mga nagsasabi sa atin na hindi pwedeng ilikas lang sila sa ibang lugar. Mayroong mga pangangailangan na tabi ng dagat, etc. Mayroong nagsasabi na marami dito sa mga napinsala ang bahay ay informal settler. So ‘yung lupa, etc..
Naggagawa ng plano pero so far ang tinataya nating gastusin dito… ‘Yong pupuntahan kasi nito na bahay, continuing relief assistance. ‘Yong gustong makabalik sa kanilang pinanggalingan, educational assistance sa mga estudyante na walang trabaho sa kasalukuyan ‘yung mga magulang, cash-for- work, supplementary feeding program, temporary na bunkhouses habang ginagawa ‘yung mga bahay na permanente, shelter assistance, livelihood assistance–ang figure is roughly about 3.9 billion. Between the contingency and the calamity fund, which I might add, the lump sum fund na kini-criticize kamakailan lang, we have about 6.1, presently, billion. So ang tinataya sa kasalukuyan, siyempre hindi pa tapos, tapos tatapusin ang plano; sino bang itatayo ulit diyan, sino bang ililipat ng lugar, bibilhin ba natin ang lupa doon, lupa na ba ng gobyerno–lahat ng detalyeng ‘yon. Ulit, 3.89 billion ang tinatayang kailangan nating gastusin, mayroon na tayong nakahanda na 6.1 billion. So may sobra pa. Pati ‘yung, siguro balikan lang natin, noong [bagyong] Pablo, tinataya about 11 billion e, pero ‘yung Pablo kasi, maraming nasira na kalsada, tulay, eskuwelahan, etc. Dito, ine-envision natin na ‘yung mga community na formal settlers nga, e mailalagay, tulad ng mga ibang informal settler program natin na mas maganda na mga komunidad na may kumpletong mga pasilidad, tulad ng mga classroom, tulad ng health center, tulad ng, ‘yung mga common spaces na tinatawag na sa pagkakaintindi ko at least mga basketball court, other sports facilities. In a sense, baka puwede pang mas maging planned ‘yong community dahil sa nangyaring ito. Now, this is just a rough estimate, and what I would like to assure the people is that we have the necessary funds on hand already to take care of that. I’m sure the DSWD, NHA, and the local government unit under our Mayor Climaco have already started discussing, and pagkakaintindi ko kahapon may na-identify nang site. But again, [there are] people who do not want to be distant from the coastline so that will have to be taken into consideration. Ano ba ang kakayahan natin? Siyempre sa coastline mayroon ding tinatawag na easement, at mayroon ding nakatira on the water itself, which I don’t think we can do. So ‘yung makiipag-usap, makipagdiyalogo sa tao para ma-meet ‘yung pangangailangan nila, pero ilagay natin sila sa maayos na kalagayan.
Q: Good afternoon, sir. Follow up lang, kasi kahapon, marami kaming nakausap na mga residente at gusto na talaga nilang umuwi sa kanilang kabahayan. Pero ang tanong ko na lang, sir, kasi ‘yung iba nasagot n’yo na: Mayroon po ba kayo sa kanilang mensahe, lalo na po iyong mga nandoon sa evacuation centers para po maibsan ho nang kahit kaunti ang kanilang paghihirap; as in sobrang dami na ho ng paghihirap nila?
President Aquino: Number one, naiintindihan natin talaga kung saan sila nanggagaling. Palagay ko, tignan naman po ninyo ang nagawa ng gobyerno: Over a hundred-thousand individuals na matagal nating pinakiusapan na umalis sa mga lugar kung saan pwedeng mailagay sila sa peligro. Kung anuman ang bulusok pagdating doon sa evacuation center, ang report sa akin ay natutugunan both ng DSWD, ng DOH–Secretary Ona was here yesterday–amongst others, at talagang handa tayong pangalagaan sila. Unang-unang pakay, at obligasyon natin sa ilalim ng Saligang Batas, ‘yung welfare, o ‘yung general welfare.
Naiintindihan natin na gusto nilang bumalik. Iyong bahay ba nila sigurado tayong wala nang mga ammunitions na naiwan doon? Sigurado ba tayo na, kunyari may mga mortar na inarm [armed] noong tumakbo, naiwan? Kapag may nakakita ba nitong mortar round na ito, anong gagawin ng tao? So parang may kakulangan sa panig ng gobyerno kung pahintulutan nating, “Sige, pumunta na kayo diyan” na hindi man lang natin nasuri kung safe na ‘yung lugar. So humihingi ako ng paumanhin sa inyo. Alam naman ninyo kung gaano kalawak: limang barangay ang pinag-uusapan natin dito. Mayroon pang action na natitira, pero pagkatapos noon, kailangan din ng oras naman ng ating security forces para masigurado [na] pagbalik doon sa mga bahay na nakatayo pa, eh safe at hindi ka ilalagay sa panganib, dahil ‘pag mayroong mangyari sa inyo kung kailan natapos ang kaguluhan, palagay ko naman lalong malaki ang sising aabutin namin.
Q: Sir, parang napansin ko lahat na ho ng opisyales ay nandito sa Zamboanga. Hanggang kailan n’yo po sasamahan ang mga taga-Zamboanga?
President Aquino: Well, pilitin ko hanggang matapos itong immediate na crisis. Palagay ko, babalik ako kapag natapos iyong plano para maipaliwanag ang detalye kung ano ang gagawin ng gobyerno para kanino, saan, kailan. I don’t expect that to take too long.
Pero balikan ko lang nga: Siguro gusto ko lang iwan sa mga nakikinig po sa atin sa kasalukuyan na handa ang gobyernong tumugon sa lahat ng suliranin. Ito, palagay ko, in a sense, unique, ‘no? Nailikas mo ang daang libo, at hindi kami humingi ng… o hindi kami gumawa ng excuses kung hindi mapakain, kung hindi matugunan ang pangagagamot. Siguro, patunay iyon na ready sila. Kapag may nagsasabi sa akin na “parang ang cool mo?” Sabi ko, ‘pag heto ang mga kasamahan mo, na lahat ay ginagampanan iyong kailangan nilang gawin na hindi mo na kailangang utusang gampanan, at kung anumang pagsubok na palaki nang palaki ay natutugunan pa rin, ay talaga namang napapahanga ako sa kanila, at doon nagmumula iyong kompiyansa na malalampasan natin kung anuman ang pagsubok dito.
Siguro as a last thing na lang: Hindi pa huli ang lahat. Doon sa mga natitira na puwersa ng kalaban: Sa akin, mahalaga ng buhay. Baka naman gusto ninyong tignan kung mahalaga rin ang buhay ninyo, at hindi pa huli ang lahat, para tapusin ito, nang mabawasan iyong namamatay o nasusugatan. Nasa inyong kamay iyan.
In his Manila Standard Today column, Kit Tatad wrote
- Contrary to what the nation and the rest of the world have been led to believe, President Benigno S. Aquino III spent several hours in “closed- door conversations” with Janet Lim Napoles, the suspected mastermind in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam involving selected opposition lawmakers, before showcasing to the media her formal “surrender” to “the only person she trusted,” on the evening of August 28, 2013, authoritative sources have revealed.
The revelation is certain to be denied, for obvious reasons, but it comes from highly authoritative sources whose loyalty to Aquino is exceeded only by their loyalty to the truth and who shared the story with extreme pain and sadness. They just could not bear what to them is a “grand deception,” a deliberate and cold-blooded attempt to mislead and deceive the people on Malacanang’s real role and interest in the Napoles case.
To them, it affects the whole fabric of morality in government, and ultimately Aquino’s moral fitness to remain in office.
The Palace responded calling Tatad’s allegation a “tall tale”
- From the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson
The claim of Marcos-era Public Information Minister Senator Francisco S. Tatad that the President spent several hours in “closed-door conversations” with Janet Lim Napoles on Wednesday, August 28, 2013, is pure fiction.
Tatad has asserted the following in public statements on different media:
Napoles arrived at Malacañan Palace at 10:27 a.m. accompanied by Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda;
She remained in a room for the next six hours, meeting behind closed doors with the President, Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas, and Lacierda; and
Other cabinet members joined the meeting, namely Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, Secretary of Budget and Management Florencio Abad, and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.
This administration believes in truthful and transparent reportage, which the former Marcos-appointee may not be accustomed to. As such, we are publishing below the President’s official working schedule for that day as sent to the Malacañang Press Corps:
10:00 a.m. – 8th East Asia Conference on Competition Law and Policy
(Venue: Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila)
1:30 p.m. – 27th Apolinario Mabini Awarding Ceremony
(Venue: Heroes Hall)
3:00 PM – Meeting with ES, DBM, DOF
(Venue: Study Conference Room)
4:00 PM – Meeting with SOTC, et al
(Venue: Study Conference Room)
The storyline pushed by Tatad is an obvious fabrication. The President was at two high-profile events at 10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. with hundreds of attendees. At both events the President also delivered speeches, the videos of which are now collectively embedded on the President’s Day page for August 28, 2013.
Meanwhile, Secretary Abad denies having gone to the Palace at all on that day. He was at his office from 12:15 p.m. until having to leave for a 3:00 p.m. meeting in Quezon City and from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. was at the DILG to meet with some organizers and attendees of the One Million People March.
This grandiose conspiracy theory peddled by Tatad is symptomatic of the old order that has been swept away. He represents what is wrong with our politics, and over the last decade, the Filipino people have made that abundantly clear by denying his return to public office twice.
Let’s have a televised face-off between Tatad and Lacierda.
He thought the president had gone back to Manila so he went to Zamboanga City, with his Jun-Jun in tow, to show the nation that they did not have to wait for 2016 for him to become their Commander in Chief. He came armed with a press release that claimed he had brokered a ceasefire between Nur Misuari and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
“Both sides agreed to stop the fighting while pursuing a peaceful settlement. They agreed to implement a ceasefire as soon as possible tonight,” said Binay when reached by phone at midnight Friday.
But a Cabinet official speaking on background said, “He is trying to insert himself. He’s jeopardizing the safety of the troops because of politicking.”
Zamboanga City Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, who heads the Crisis Management Committee (CMC), asked the people of Zamboanga “to help defend your communities and coordinate with the police and military. Set-up early warning system and report sightings. We do not want them (MNLF) to get out scot-free. We do not want them to leave with a free pass.”
Binay returned to Manila Saturday night. Empty-handed, except for a tattered unpublished press release hailing him as a hero and peacemaker.
I predict Tanda will be acquitted. Pogi will admit he is Pogi. Sexy will also admit but he will face an additional charge of perjury.
Tanda has from the very beginning stated that he does not know Napoles, that he has had no dealings with her. In addition, he said that due to his age his doctors have advised him to stay away from pork. And so he passed the pork to his chief of staff. He is off the hook. But that has placed his chief of staff on the spot.
Prosecutor: “Madame, who is the Tanda referred to in the code book of Mrs. Napoles?”
Chief of Staff: “I don’t know.”
Prosecutor: “A number of witnesses testified that Tanda was Mrs. Napoles’ code name for your boss.”
Chief of staff: “My boss does not know Mrs. Napoles, he has never had any dealings with her.”
Prosecutor: “But documents show that his PDAF went to NGOs controlled by Napoles. If he never had any dealings with Napoles then that leaves you, Madame. Are you therefore the Tanda in the code book of Mrs. Napoles?”
Chief of Staff: “How dare you! I am not tanda, excuse me, may asim pa ako!”
Sandigan Judge: “May asim pa nga siya. (Stage whisper: “Miss, pwede mo ba ako i-friend sa FB?”) Not guilty! ”
Pogi was next on the stand.
Prosecutor: “Senator, are you Pogi?”
Pogi: “I hear that a lot, sir.”
Prosecutor: “So you are admitting that you are Pogi?”
Pogi: “Hindi naman po sa pagyayabang pero hindi lang si Janet ang tumatawag sa akin ng pogi.”
Prosecutor: “Aha! Meron pa palang iba maliban kay Mrs. Napoles?”
Pogi: “Of course, hindi lang siya, box office king ako, sir, malakas akong tumabo sa taquilla.”
Prosecutor: “Malakas kang tumabo?”
Pogi: “Yes sir.”
Prosecutor: “The State rests, Your Honors.”
Sandigan jusdges: “Guilty!”
It is Sexy’s turn.
Prosecutor: “Are you Sexy?”
Sexy: “Well, I have been called sexy ever since I lost a lot of weight.”
Prosecutor: “Mr. Senator, remember that you are under oath, let me ask you again and I advise you to weigh your answer carefully, are you Sexy?”
Prosecutor: “Your Honors, I would like to cite the senator for perjury.”
Sandigan judges: “Kuya, are you sure you want to stand by your statement that you are sexy?”
By Mario M. Galang
Pork again. For sheer size, the so-called presidential, PNoy pork is worth a second, closer look.
The alleged amount is hefty at 1.3 Trillion pesos: about one-third of the national budget for 2004.Coming out with a staggering amount with a “PNoy pork” label stuck on it is a politically clever move: it pushes the Executive into the same line of fire heretofore aimed only at the Legislature and projects an image of a double-talking PNoy. The trick is in redefining “pork” your way.
My own digital dictionary defines “pork barrel” with a sense so simple that it means only “the use of government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes.” And so to the world’s pork lexicon, the more intelligent among us added their own definition, such that “pork” is now any or all of the following:
1. A lump-sum item in the budget;
2. Funds allocated and released at the Executive’s sole discretion.
A definition is only worth its function in your own scheme of things. Our new “pork” so defined now covers more than a trillion pesos worth of budget items, in place of a measly P25 billion for PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund). What does it gain thereby, aside from our attention? It seems to impress on us its concern about corruption, and points to its choice of budget items as those prone to misuse. Thus, its advocates want them abolished.
Is the Trillion-Peso list warranted? Try these items from the list.
Internal Revenue Allotment or IRA – The annual share of local government units in the national internal revenue taxes which is automatically released to them, in accord with the Local Government Code of 1991. IRA is lump-sum, ergo it must be PNoypork. So what? What do we get from calling it pork? The IRA is released to each LGU directly, as the Code provides, without need of any further action, and “which shall not be subject to any lien or holdback that may be imposed by the national government for whatever purpose.”The alleged amount for 2014 is P341.5 Billion. On what account is it vulnerable to Executive corruption?
Debt Service Fund – An amount that is automatically budgeted to pay public debt, as the law, Executive Order No. 292, provided. The same law builds a fence around the fund by providing that it shall be used only for debt payment. The alleged amount is P352.7 Billion.Lump-sum, ergo pork. But does calling it so change anything?
(Incidentally, another lump-sum item, Budget For School Buildings, allegedly amounts to P200 Billion for 2014. The problem is a budget item under this label does not exist. The amount would seem even more farcical if you know that 200 billion is almost as big as the entire 2013 budget of the Department of Education.)
Lump-sums are necessities borne by the very nature of budgeting itself, which is “primarily forecasting of revenues and expenditure for government programs and projects.” Forecasts fall short of what’s expected and you allow for the unexpected by setting aside lump-sum amounts.
The Trillion-Peso Pork idea also qualifies as “pork” any fund that is used at the “sole discretion” of the Executive, where “discretion” means the freedom to decide on what to do in a given situation.
Bias blinds. How you look at discretion depends on your purpose. If your crusade is against corruption, discretion is a liability. You’d adhere to the belief that equates discretion with corruption, such that, less or more discretion yields less or more corruption, in direct fashion. If the reasoning looks rigidly linear, it’s because it is assuming a world where no counter-check to the side effects of discretion exists.
But corruption comes in complex ways, in varying conditions, for different reasons. In real life, greater and clearer accountability may keep discretion from growing into corruption. Experts are also wont to say that corruption is a crime of calculation, not of passion. When the risk of getting caught is low, the penalties mild, and the rewards great – people tend to get corrupted. Crowd vigilance, free access to information, the right motivation may serve as counter-check
The focus on corruption comes at a cost, largely at the expense of public service. It tends to lead to centralization, command-and-control mode of management, by-the-book compliance with procedures, red tape. If you change your seat and look again, you’ll find that discretion actually confers some wonder. Good performance needs ample room and time to move around and move quickly; it presupposes the right degree of flexibility, or discretion. Discretion is a tool for quick decision and action.
My overall point is lump-sum and discretionary budget items are not by themselves bad: how you look at them depends on your purpose. The Trillion-Peso list may have served its propaganda purpose, but not clarity.
Its pork is phony.
Galang is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph).