INSTEAD of being entangled by the controversies in the previous administration, an ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called on President Benigno Aquino III to move forward.

"It's about time to move forward. We are committed to support the Aquino administration at hindi pwedeng araw-araw na lang pag-uusapan natin itong mga datos," Arroyo's spokesperson Maria Elena Bautista-Horn told reporters.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The Palace reacted on the statement of the House minority bloc, saying that Aquino was misled by his Cabinet officials with the data he has been provided with.

Lakas-Kampi party official and Representative Danilo Suarez (third district, Quezon) added that instead of focusing on the problems of the past, Aquino should start working for the people who elected him.

"Popular ka, hinalal ka na, wag na tayo maghukay ng nakaraan. Let's move forward at magtrabaho na tayo," Suarez said.

National budget

But House Minority Leader and Representative Edcel Lagman (first district, Albay) could not help but comment on Aquino's claim that the Arroyo government left depleted financial coffers.

Aquino earlier said that of the total P1.54 trillion budget for this year, only P 100 billion - or 6.5 percent of the total budget - was left.

But Lagman refuted it referring to the admission of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that there was nothing illegal on the spending of the Arroyo government.

Lagman said there is actually P591.4 billion remaining budget and Aquino did not explain that P313 billion of that was automatically appropriated for debt service.

"Bakit hindi nila maintindihan ito. Matagal na silang nasa gobyerno talagang may auto-appropriation na hindi nila pwede pakialaman," he added.

Representative Suarez also said that the main problem of the national budget is that it is simply inadequate for the needs of all government agencies because of the country's fiscal problem.

"Pag napakapopular ng nagsasalita, ang problema, mali na kinakaawan pa," said Suarez, citing President Aquino who recently enjoyed an 85 percent trust rating.

Representative Maria Milagros Magsaysay (first district, Zambales) said the speech was sensationalized after the data Aquino reported was refuted immediately by the DBM.

Fatima Aliah Dimaporo (second district, Lanao del Norte), a neophyte lawmaker, also criticized the speech of Aquino for failing to provide a definite roadmap for the country.

"Kulang po ang guidelines, ang future, vision na galing sa opisina ni Presidente para i-guide ang mga legislators, especially the new legislators," she added.

Probe Luisita issue too

If Aquino cannot simply let go on issues against the former President then Representative Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo (fifth district, Negros Occidental), who is brother-in-law of President Arroyo, said the Truth Commission should also probe the Hacienda Luisita case.

"There are other issues like the Luisita case and other issues, if you want to get to the bottom of the truth then let's get to the bottom of the truth," Iggy told reporters.

On November 16, 2004, twelve farmers and two children pushing for increased benefits in Hacienda Luisita were killed while hundreds were injured when police and soldiers dispatched them forcibly.

Bautista-Horn meanwhile said they intend to cooperate with the investigation that will be conducted by the administration on his predecessor.

"Yung mga formal bodies na ganyan mas maganda po dahil alam namin na mas mapakingan po ang panig ni Arroyo at pag ganyan dapat tingnan yun parameters at may ebidensiya, hindi puro salita-salita lang," she said.

Representative Lagman said that the Aquino administration would have a hard time justifying the need for a Truth Commission since it will only duplicate the functions of other agencies, like the Ombudsman.

"Mahihirapan ang administration to justify Truth Commission...kung bakit executive power ang gagamiti," he added. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)