Aquino: ‘I am not a thief!’-A A +A
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III defended in a televised address Wednesday the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) amid the uproar against it and the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
"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.
Of the DAP releases in 2011 and 2012, only nine percent was disbursed for projects suggested by legislators, he said.
"The DAP is not theft. Theft is illegal. Spending through DAP is clearly allowed by the Constitution and by other laws," he said.
He explained that DAP is only a name for a process in which government can spend both savings and new and additional revenues.
Aquino said that funds from DAP came from efforts to stop the connivance of some in bidding for contracts, in padding costs, overpricing, and kickbacks and from the proper spending of the budget.
The President accused an "old politician" of being behind in trying to confuse the public between DAP and the PDAF.
"The real issue here is stealing. This is the topic they have constantly tried to avoid ever since their wrongdoing was exposed," he said, referring to the alleged misuse on the pork barrel.
"And since it is exceedingly difficult to explain, it seems they have taken the advice of an old politician from their camp: If you can't explain it, muddle it; if you can't deodorize it, make everyone else stink; if you can't look good, make everyone look bad. You have heard what they are saying: that we are all the same," Aquino said, without naming the old politician.
Three senators, namely, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, and 35 others, including Janet Lim-Napoles, alleged mastermind of the pork barrel fund mess, were charged with plunder and malversation of public funds, among others, before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged involvement in the PDAF scam.
"My response: We are not the same. I have never stolen. I am not a thief. I am the one who goes after thieves," Aquino said.
"I repeat: The issue here is theft. I did not steal. Those who have been accused of stealing are those who are sowing confusion; they want to dismantle all that we have worked so hard to achieve on the straight path," he said.
While he was trying to dismantle the systems that breed the abuse of power, Aquino lamented that yet, he was the one now being called the "Pork Barrel King."
But he vowed to continue with his fight against corruption.
"This is what I say to them: If you think that this will stop me from going after you, if you think that you can divert the public’s attention, if you think you can get away with stealing from our countrymen -- you have sorely underestimated me and the Filipino people," he warned.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes immediately went to micro-blogging site Twitter to express his displeasure over the speech.
"#noynoyspeech is nothing but a staunch DEFENSE of DAP and presidential pork," said Reyes, whose group is staunch critic of the administration.
— Renato Reyes, Jr. (@natoreyes) October 30, 2013
Instead of throwing brickbats at the administration, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the public should shift its attention to the prosecution of those who allegedly pocketed taxpayer's money.
"A successful resolution of this case will bring about drastic anti-corruption reforms in government and more importantly, it will purge the government of corrupt officials," he said.
Drilon said the Senate has started instituting reforms to restore the people’s trust and confidence in the institution, with its decision to waive the use of the remaining PDAF for 2013 and its plan to abolish the same in the 2014 budget.
The release of PDAF for the rest of the year was stopped by the Supreme Court pending resolution of petitions assailing its constitutionality. (SDR/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)