Aquino ‘can’t salvage his sagging popularity’-A A +A
Thursday, October 31, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- Legislators against the administration belittled the televised speech of President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday night, saying the Chief Executive missed a rare opportunity to save what is left of his "sagging popularity."
The 12-minute address marked the first time Aquino asked networks for airtime. In his address, the President defended the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) implemented by the Department of Budget and Management under Secretary Florencio Abad Jr.
"Let me make it clear: The Disbursement Acceleration Program is not pork barrel... The DAP is not theft. Theft is illegal. Spending through DAP is clearly allowed by the Constitution and by other laws," Aquino argued. [Read: Aquino: ‘I am not a thief!’]
The pork barrel is the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocated to members of Congress.
Aquino said that of the DAP funds released in 2011 and 2012, only nine percent was disbursed for projects suggested by legislators.
Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares, a member of the House opposition bloc, said Aquino "missed the opportunity to salvage a little of his sagging popularity by maintaining his stubborn and unreasonable defense of pork."
In a survey recently conducted by the Social Weather Stations, it showed that Aquino's net satisfaction rating fell to "good" at 49 percent in September from a "very good" rating of 64 percent in June.
"President Aquino has lost touch with reality and his speech completely misses the point. The people are angry with the corruption and patronage politics that goes with pork and the DAP," Colmenares said.
He added, "Worse, realigning appropriations arbitrarily is technical malversation at least and many public officials have gone to prison for spending funds to items other than those appropriated by law, 'di lang pagnanakaw ang usapin dito. Secondly, its the people not just his political opponents that demand the abolition of pork."
The President, in his televised address, accused an "old politician" of trying to confuse the public between DAP and the PDAF.
"Since it (PDAF) 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.
Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon said President Aquino cannot wash his hands over corruption issues thrown against his administration.
"We should not forget that even during the Aquino administration, Napoles NGOs (non-government organizations) operated in major executive agencies such as the DA (Department of Agriculture) and the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform). The President thus cannot pretend to be of clean hands in his use of the DAP. In fact, he defended the DAP like a soiled teflon pan - nonstick but unclean," Ridon said in a press statement.
Ridon was referring to detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the multi-billion pork barrel scam.
Ridon, along with ACT Teachers party-list Representative Antonio Tinio, also said that Aquino continuously refused to admit that his administration disregarded the constitutional prerogative granted to Congress to determine specific appropriations of government when he defended the DAP.
"The President's message indicates Aquino's continuing refusal to acknowledge that there are valid Constitutional and legal questions regarding his possible abuse of Presidential powers over appropriations through the DAP," Tinio said.
The constitutionality of DAP is being questioned before the Supreme Court.
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, a close ally of President Aquino, meanwhile, lauded the Chief Executive's commitment to prosecute those involved in the pork barrel scam.
"The real issue really is who pocketed public funds. The people should not be misled by machinations by those who were accused of corruption," Evardone said.
Napoles, along with Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. have previously been charged with plunder over their alleged involvement in the PDAF scam wherein pork barrel funds were channeled to bogus NGOs. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)