So the public may know…and decide

Yoly Villanueva-Ong
Indeed, not even the most irrational detractor can diminish the economic gains and investment upgrades that the country attained only under this administration, partly due to the polemic DAP

Woodrow Wilson once said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

No one can attest to the veracity of this statement better than President Aquino and DBM Secretary Butch Abad.

 “When we assumed office in 2010, we were confronted with inefficiencies and bottlenecks in the bureaucracy – the delayed implementation of priority programs and projects and inefficient disbursements among others – so that growth contracted for three quarters in 2011.

“With this, we introduced the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as a reform intervention to accelerate public spending and boost the economy. This program made way for the remarkable improvement in government expenditure making a significant improvement in GDP growth which rose to as high as 7.6% last year,” explained Abad.

Indeed, not even the most irrational detractor can diminish the economic gains and credit rating upgrades that the country attained only under this administration, partly due to the polemic DAP.

As early as December 2013, the economic team composed of Secretary Abad, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balicasan recommended the termination of DAP as written in a memo to the President.

“All economic and fiscal indicators point to the conclusion that DAP has achieved its objective as a fiscal stimulus measure. We thus recommend for His Excellency’s consideration, the termination of DAP as well as the vigorous implementation of budgetary reform measures to ensure the irreversibility of reforms.”

Three major reform measures were recommended to strengthen transparency, accountability and efficiency in public spending. These are: the GAA-as-Release Document, Performance Informed Budgeting, and the Cashless and Checkless Regime.

Florid media reporting gives the misimpression that the entire DAP was declared unconstitutional. But as published in Rappler:

SC declared 3 schemes unconstitutional:

  1. The withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Act
  2. Cross-border transfers of savings of the executive department to offices outside the executive department
  3. Funding of projects, activities, programs not covered by appropriations in the General Appropriations Act

So before volunteering an opinion, impeaching President Aquino, or screaming for Butch Abad to resign or be thrown in jail, make it a point to read Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban’s column, The DAP decision (July 6, 2014).

“…Acts done in good faith pursuant to a law or executive act that is later declared unconstitutional would remain valid and enforceable. It also applies when the nullification of such acts would result in an injustice. In short, unconstitutionality has prospective effects only.”

Then read Raisa Robles’ well-argued piece, “President Aquino’s dead mom, President Cory, may yet save her son from jail over DAP (And why there are grounds for the Supreme Court to review its decision on DAP).”

Raissa asks, “Could the Supreme Court be wrong?…The DAP is unconstitutional if you only look at the 1987 Constitution and Chapter 5, Section 38 of the Administrative Code of 1987 – which is what the justices did.

“The DAP becomes constitutional if you look at the 1987 Constitution AND Sections 38 and 49 of Chapter 5 of the Administrative Code of 1987….But NOT ONE of them mentioned nor discussed Chapter 5, Section 49….Because of this, they unanimously ruled that the pooling of funds under DAP and certain cross-border DAP projects violated the Constitution.”

Raissa points out that the Administrative Code is not a mere Executive Order. It has the status of a law as given by the Constitution.

SECTION 49. Authority to Use Savings for Certain Purposes. – Savings in the appropriations provided in the General Appropriations Act may be used for the settlement of the following obligations incurred during a current fiscal year or previous fiscal years as may be approved by the Secretary in accordance with rules and procedures as may be approved by the President:

9.) Priority activities that will promote the economic well-being of the nation, including food production, agrarian reform, energy development, disaster relief, and rehabilitation.
10.) Repair, improvement and renovation of government buildings and infrastructure and other capital assets damaged by natural calamities;

Finally, let us contemplate Franklin D. Roosevelt’s admonition, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”

Who are the enemies of PNoy and Butch Abad?

The list is long but the usual suspects are as perennial as they are familiar. The most rabid attackers come from the left-leaning party list groups Bayan Muna (recipients of PDAF and DAP) and its spawn Kabataan. It was also the prime movers of the leftist political wing, National Democratic Front (NDF), that brought the issue to the Supreme Court. The rallies, heckling and protest stunts are all care of this block. Why are they so anti-Aquino? Their failed senatorial bets in 2010 were not accepted in the slate, is one reason.

Then there are the unhappy politicians as represented by the devilishly striking spokesperson, who changed allegiance early on; the supporters of the 3 senators and the former president currently in jail for the non-bailable crime of plunder; the former budget secretary and national treasurer who tirelessly speak out on TV to point out the flaws of this government. (One was accused of involvement in a multimillion textbook scam; the other was said to be after an elusive post.)

There are the disgruntled elements in the Supreme Court who got bypassed, the mordant joker who actually authored the Administrative Code of 1987, and finally the “jukebox media” who play up whatever angle was paid for.

Who is serving our country better and is more deserving of our support? It’s our call. –

Erratum: In the column “A parallel universe?” Atty Jose Flaminiano was cited as being part of the defense team at the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. In fact, he defended former president Joseph Estrada at his impeachment trial. Also, the partner in Flaminiano, Arroyo and Duenas law firm, is one Lawrence Arroyo, a distant relative of Mike Arroyo.