Abad and the propaganda war

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Thursday, July 24, 2014


BUDGET Secretary Butch Abad got a little help from his friends at the Senate hearing on the controversial Development Acceleration Program (DAP) yesterday.

No less than Senate President Franklin Drilon captained Abad’s defensive team, allowing the latter, through a series of friendly questions, to explain that the DAP is not an invention of this administration and that even opposition lawmakers were able to take advantage of the fund.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes, on the other hand, helped Abad explain that there was nothing in the Supreme Court decision invalidating the DAP that accused the budget secretary of committing a crime or of stealing public money. In between, the former navy captain wondered aloud how the “noise” from the President’s critics could have been so overwhelming, suggesting that the Malacañang communications team may have been outplayed.

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Some quarters may find the open display of partisanship by Aquino’s Senate allies disturbing but what did they expect? There is a propaganda war being waged and senators (and congressmen) are only too willing to contribute to the DAP’s defense because they benefitted from it in terms of projects that they were able to identify for funding from the executive’s pooled savings.

In fact, this is something that we have missed in the frenzy that followed the Supreme Court ruling. The money did not go to the legislators but to agencies that implemented them. Of course, this was the same practice followed in the scandal-tainted Priority Development Assistant Fund but unlike in the PDAF where billions of pesos went to Janet Napoles and her legislator-customers, there remains no claim to date that money
was stolen by Abad or the President from the DAP.

Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares should be able to attest to that because it turns out that the fierce DAP critic was one of those who availed of the funds. I’m sure he will say that whatever amount that was released upon his request was used for the purpose for which it was intended.

That was the point that Drilon and Trillanes tried to drive home in their questioning of Abad: that the DAP was well-intentioned and well-executed and that while it is, according to the Supreme Court, unconstitutional, it is not criminal.

Not everyone will agree with them, of course. The propaganda war will continue to rage.

***

First this disclosure: I used to work in one of the companies in which Manuel V. Pangilinan has a financial interest but that was more than two months ago. I do not owe him any favors; whatever I got from his company, I worked for and honestly earned.

That clarification had to be made because I just read that two party-list congressmen were demanding an investigation into Pangilinan’s companies and I believe that the move is stupid if you consider their reason for doing so.

The demand came in the aftermath of the basketball promotional fiasco in which National Basketball Association players, who came to the Philippines to pit their skills against the Philippine team, refused to play because they had no permission from their league.

The NBA players’ Manila trip was not organized by Pangilinan but by another independent group. But because PLDT sponsored the game, Pangilinan volunteered to refund the ticketholders. The man, who has spent and continues to spend millions of pesos to help sports development in the country, deserved at least a “thank you” for his act of decency.

The two clowns would have none of that, however. They now want the PLDT, Smart and all the other Pangilinan companies investigated.

Can you beat that?

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 25, 2014.

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