GENERAL SANTOS CITY, July 14, 2014 – President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will talk to the nation via television at six o’clock this evening to explain his administration’s action in response to the Supreme Court’s decision last June 19 declaring unconstitutional the now abolished DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program). (INQUIRER.net, July 13, 2014: Aquino to discuss gov’t action on SC’s DAP)
Of what the President will take up, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said, “After careful study of the document, the President discussed it with his Cabinet members to draft the government’s response to the decision, which has far-reaching implications on the people and the government.”
We do not expect the President to defend the constitutionality of the DAP. If the Palace differs against the clear ruling of the Court, it should do so in its petition for reconsideration before the Supreme Court. We expect the President to explain in detail how the total P137.3 billion in DAP funds was released in 2011 (P82.5 billion) and 2012 (P54.8 billion) and disbursed to projects under various government agencies and LGUs have stimulated the economy and benefited the people – directly or indirectly.
Surely, the Filipinos want to know – and should be properly informed – how their money has been spent. We are inclined to think that may be they are curious but not that eager to know how the President feels about the Supreme Court’s ruling on the DAP.
On this point, why should it be the President who has to explain the DAP operations, programs and projects or the implications of the Court Decision? That is the task of the sophisticatedly reorganized Press Department. What are the handsomely paid secretaries and spokespersons paid for?
In the first place, had the Palace been transparent about the DAP with the communications personnel having been up-to-date since its creation in October 2011 in updating the people about its programs and projects, the Aquino III government should not have fallen into the hot water. But until Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” exposed last year the use of the DAP money to “reward” the 19 senators who had voted to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona, the DAP had lain in secret.
Actually, here’s the hitch – here’s what ailed the DAP (Ito ang sakit ng DAP. Ini an sakit sang DAP). Considering all that have been said and written about DAP, including the SC decision, its constitutionality notwithstanding, the DAP was good — 91 percent good. It was the nine percent or P12 billion of its total releases used for political patronage that spoiled it.
That brings us to the President’s television talk to the Filipinos tonight. Will he tackle his critics by the horns and tell them they are wrong? If he does, no matter how well he explains the merits of the DAP, he will be prolonging and enlarging the DAP war.
The administration apologists will say, “It’s a matter of how you look at the glass – half-empty or half-full. That’s the oft-used analogy. Let’s change the analogy to be closer to the Filipino table. Let’s look at the DAP as the Philippine banana – 91% good, 9% spoiled by the P12 billion for political patronage – the pork barrel of senators and congressmen. The administration apologists see the 91 percent of the banana; the critics, the nine percent.
Any Filipino buying bananas in the market would always inspect them for spoilage. With a rotten tip, the whole banana is rejected. To protect his sales, the banana vendor would remove all bananas with rot from his stock or display – no matter how small the rot.
Should the President insist in admonishing his critics to look at the 91% well spent DAP funds and justify the 9% as in fact beneficial, the more his critics will magnify the rot of the 9% and ignore – or even sneer at – the 91%. In fact, the more the President does the defending of the DAP, the more his critics will vilify him, DBMSecretary Florencio Abad, et al. They are really baiting the President into the fray. That’s their game. The President is taking the bait.
HonestlyIn reality, we think the President’s television talk tonight is not that necessary. What Filipinos need to know can be done by the Palace communications officials. They have to protect the government and the President – not the President doing their work for them when the going gets tough.
Don’t get us wrong. We will listen to the President. As he goes into details, it is the people as beneficiaries of the DAP who, by looking around, can tell the truth or falsity of the President’s report to his “bosses”. If the Filipinos know the President is telling the whole truth, they will be the ones to ignore the administration’s critics to silence.
But we don’t see the end of the DAP war so long as the President will continue to defend by himself in the forefront his administration. The only way to end the DAP war is for the President fade out of the scene and let his communications people do the fighting. Those critics will find no gain – no political capital – in tangling with the lightweights.
As he steps out, he should encourage his critics to go to court as implied in the SC Decision. If any of the DAP authors, implementors, etc. are found guilty in misusing the DAP funds, they must go to jail. The crime is in the misuse of government funds, not in the unconstitutionality of the use. We think, the SC Decision has made that clear.
However, we believe that the best policy and practice for any government – not just Aquino III’s – is to serve the Filipinos with bananas without rot. If critics see no rot in the banana, they will keep quiet.
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