The power of the purse-A A +A
By Jun Ledesma
Friday, October 11, 2013
IT IS the popular notion and an irrefutable belief that Congress holds and is in control of the purse strings of the government. It looks like that established dictum had been surreptitiously changed under the Aquino government.
Against the legions of legislators who would oftentimes debate for months and oftentimes to the wee hours of the evening it appears that only one presidential subaltern, the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) can do what Congress considers a Herculean task. I have to admire the creative genius of Sec. Florencio Abad and for that matter Malacañang.
The strategy is simple. They painted the previous administration black and concluded that every project that Congress approved then is tainted with graft. Fund allocations were frozen and little did the public know that a small functionary, DBM, realigned the unexpended budget and were awarded to senators and congressmen who were lovey-dovey with the tenants of Malacañang. The irregularity was sugar coated with an impact term -- disbursement acceleration program (DAP). The power of the purse has shifted from Congress to the Executive Department. Nobody complains because the largesse is substantial enough to earn the acquiescence of the docile legislators.
When this anomaly was first unearthed Secretary Abad and the Palace spokespersons merely dismiss the issue in a cavalier fashion as in: “the president is frugal in dispersing funds”. These characters forgot that walls have ears and soon enough we learned that in less than two years the Aquino administration had disbursed over P150-billion in DAP alone and the counting is going.
Funny, when pressed against the wall, the Palace defenders would casually put the blame on the detained ex-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).
GMA lost her immunity from suit during her incumbency. She tried to retain that shield but her indictment was quick and harsh for before she was proclaimed duly elected representative of her Pampanga district the warrant came.
One day soon, someone will have to answer for trifling with government funds. The verdict of the Supreme Court on the legality of the Pork Barrel and DAP is awaited. My take here is that the Pork barrel may pass but this will not remove the culpability of those who partake of the Napoles loot. DAP is too scandalous and indefensible that the High Court may have extreme difficulty in justifying the realignment of funds and passing these on to senators and congressmen for whatever reasons they may conjure. Legal luminaries and constitutionalists have spoken and to the man they said that DAP is illegal. Period.
Let us look at this from a different perspective and let me quote from Wikipedia. "In ancient times, as well as in modern times, whoever has the most money usually can have the ability of having the most influence over the ruling power. Through the ruling power, they can bribe or blackmail them into making rules. Basically, he who holds the money will be able to rule a whole country from behind the throne -- whoever sits on the throne is the figurehead of power."
Well, history repeats itself so often. It might not be for long that GMA might enjoy some company.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 11, 2013.