Aquino accuses Arroyo of misusing over P1T to stay in power-A A +A
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III bared Wednesday that the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could have misused over one trillion pesos to make sure that she stayed in power.
The Chief Executive, in a speech at the Brotherhood of Christian Business and Professionals' Grand Breakfast in SMX Convention Center, Pasay City, accused the Arroyo government of manipulating several mechanisms in government to make sure that she remained in power for almost 10 years.
"Rice. Congressional insertions. The Malampaya Fund. Reenactment of the National Budget. These are only some of the mechanisms that the past administration utilized in their abuse of the nation’s coffers, not for the benefit of the Filipino people, but to ensure that those in power will stay in power—and will amass even greater wealth," he said.
"Through these four mechanisms alone, discretionary funds that may have been used to gain political capital and strengthen the patronage system totaled an estimated 836 billion pesos. And this is only a prelude; not included in this estimate are the other questionable manipulations of the budget and their other worthless projects. We have not yet unearthed everything, but already, based on our initial findings, we know that the amount may exceed one trillion pesos," Aquino stressed.
In rice, he said that during the previous government, there was gross over importation at higher prices.
He cited that the debt of the National Food Authority was at P12 billion from the time of late President Ferdinand Marcos to former President Joseph Estrada's administration and ballooned to P177 billion under the past government.
"Even worse: 123 billion pesos of this debt was accumulated only within their last two years in power," he said.
Due to reenactment of budgets most of the time during the past government, he said about 637.6 billion pesos would have been freed to be used in any way it wanted.
The President accused that some P23.33 billion of the Malampaya fund was used by the previous administration for other purposes and not to fund energy-related projects.
"Again, let us compare: in the almost ten year-period of the past administration, the average annual budget was around 1 trillion pesos. Is this not appalling—that funds equivalent to the national budget for just one year may have been fallen into their hands, for use wherever they wanted? We are not yet done searching for answers: who was behind this, what happened, where did the money go, who benefited from this scheme, and who is truly guilty?" he said.
The President said it might not be exaggeration to assume that the money pocketed before could still be in use now to erode the people's trust in the straight path that his government has been pushing for.
"Is it an exaggeration to think that a portion of the funds now in their hands—to allot wherever they wish—is now being used in an attempt to return us to the old and corrupt ways of doing business?" he said.
But the President said he would not be cowed to continue with the reform agenda "no matter how much noise our enemies make, and no matter how difficult it may be to uproot the corruption that has wormed its way deep into our systems."
He cited the reforms that his government has been implementing in the Bureau of Customs including the appointment of five new deputy commissioners.
"There will be no more security guards acting as collecting officers or warehousemen acting as examiners; positions will no longer be obtained through patronage, as opposed to merit. So, if there are still those remaining in the agency who want to cling to the corrupt ways of the past, I tell you: try me, and see where that brings you," he said.
Aquino also hailed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan and Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, and Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares as the "faces of an honest government" since they favor and spare no one as they bravely go about the tasks they have sworn to perform. (SDR/Sunnex)