President’s clipped fiscal power means Filipinos’ long-term gain
Akbayan welcomes President Aquino’s attempt to elucidate in his recent public address some of the issues that have since surfaced because of the pork barrel scam. We also welcome his resolve to make accountable the pork barrel plunderers and apply the full weight of the law to all those who have robbed the people of their money. At a time when there are attempts to obfuscate the people’s antipork, anticorruption campaign in the minds of those who stand to lose much from it, we are glad the President has heeded the public’s call for clarity and transparency by making himself open to public engagement.
In the same spirit of openness, Akbayan conveys to President Aquino some of the points where it diverges from his public address on the pork barrel issue. First, even as we recognize his effort to explain the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), we assert that this must go hand in hand with the commitment to clip the fiscal powers of the executive to further reform the country’s budget system. We remind the President that the DAP is one of the facets of such vast and unbridled fiscal powers of the executive—powers that have been gravely abused in the past and coveted by some of those who seek to replace him after his term.
Second, the President must realize that not all those who are expressing their concern on the DAP are diverting the issue away from the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) plunderers. Even though there is a need to remind the public of the important and pressing tasks of the antipork campaign, it is wrong to dismiss the DAP, more so the executive’s fiscal powers, as non-issues in the overall reform process. Of all people, President Aquino knows too well the dire consequences of the unregulated fiscal powers of the executive having filed the Budget Impoundment Control bill when he was still a senator during Gloria Arroyo’s pillage of the people’s fund.
Lastly, President Aquino must understand the necessity of instituting, under his term, deeper reforms particularly those that address the executive’s unregulated fiscal powers. It is not enough to say that he has not stolen a single cent from the nation’s coffers. It is also severely inadequate for the people to solely rely on an incorruptible leader to assuage their fears that the nation’s coffers will not be abused while our budget system remains prone to corruption and other abuses. President Aquino must make the necessary steps to ensure that future administrations will not abuse the people’s fund to entrench their interests, such as had been displayed in the past.
Thus, we reiterate our call to the President to certify as urgent the passage of House Bill No. 2256 (Savings and Augmentation Bill), HB 2257 (Budget Impoundment Control Bill) and HB 3128 (Budget Reform Bill) to regulate the executive’s fiscal powers and further democratize the budget system.
President Aquino must not only persevere and be courageous in punishing the pork barrel plunderers. He must go beyond courage and make the short-term sacrifice of clipping his own fiscal powers to ensure the long-term gain of the people.
—WALDEN BELLO, BARRY GUTIERREZ, Akbayan Party-list representatives, firstname.lastname@example.org
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