The President’s dare

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Friday, July 11, 2014


CRITICS of the Aquino administration are dismayed that President Noynoy Aquino refused to accept the resignation of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. Toby Tiangco, secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), used a pun: “What Malacañang did was clearly Abad faith.”

By the way, UNA groups together Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada. Enrile is in detention for a plunder case for the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Estrada is a plunder convict and father of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who is also detained for plunder raps. That’s why when I hear Tiangco become holier-than-thou, I am amused.

“To accept (Abad’s) resignation is to assign to him a wrong. I cannot accept the notion that doing right by our people is a wrong,” the President said during a Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet members clapped.

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I was among those who thought that it’s time for PNoy to let go of Abad after the Supreme Court ruled that portions of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) were unconstitutional. Abad, as secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) obviously engineered DAP.

But I am not ready to equate the DAP, whose use was discontinued even months before the High Court’s DAP ruling, with the PDAF and in the process downplay the plunder of government coffers by PDAF scammers, some of whom belong to Tiangco’s UNA. I’d rather wait until a full accounting of the funds spent through DAP has been made.

Malacañang has already said that only nine percent, or an estimated P12.8 billion, of the DAP funds were allocated to projects identified by legislators. Some of these legislators (five senators) reportedly channeled their respective allocations to bogus foundations set up by Janet Lim-Napoles, one of the main figures in the PDAF scam.

Which means that the remaining 91 percent of DAP spending were for projects of the executive department. These should also be looked into.

I would say that the refusal off the President to let go of Abad is a dare to his critics to prove that his administration misused the DAP allocations. Malacañang is insisting that the DAP served public good, and it looks like it is not ready to budge from that stance.

The Aquino administration will rise or fall on this assertion.

***

The first time I saw in person the late Kris Relatado was in the ‘80s when I was still focused on greater concerns than media work. I was waiting for somebody near the Bombo Radyo station along Borromeo St.

The station’s announcer’s booth used to be visible from the sidewalk and the radio program could be heard from a sound system installed outside. When Relatado saw me through the glass partition, I heard him joke about a “gwapo” standing on the sidewalk.

Relatado became my co-worker years later when I joined The Freeman in the early ‘90s. He wrote entertainment columns for the newspaper using variations of his nickname like Krisales, Krisanta, etc. He wrote in a Cebuano that was more gay-speak than formal and got popular for it.

I saw him only during occasions after I transferred to Sun.Star Cebu in the late ‘90s.

One time, I saw him in a mass at the San Vicente Ferrer parish in Urgello St. That was when we still lived in Barangay Sambag 2.

He was in a group of people and I noticed that he was purposely distant. I found out later that he was with senior citizens. I thought he didn’t want me to know that he had gotten older and had acquired “dual citizenship.”

Relatado will be buried this afternoon. Here’s my salute to one who remained a media personality until his death. RIP, Manang Kris.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 12, 2014.

Opinion

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