How to raise Aquino’s approval rating | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

How to raise Aquino’s approval rating

/ 10:35 PM October 31, 2013

“I am not a thief,” President Aquino said in a prime-time radio-television address the other night. Who said you are? But maybe some of your friends are.

P-Noy was forced to go on air to defend the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) because of the big drop in his approval rating in the most recent Social Weather Stations survey. He hopes that by defending the DAP his approval rating will rise again.

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“The DAP is not pork barrel,” he said. He accused the real thieves of “muddling” the issue by calling him a thief. A case of thieves calling each other thieves?

P-Noy is speaking with a forked tongue again. The DAP may be different in name from the hated PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund), but it is still pork. Any lump-sum appropriation that can be disbursed on the say-so of top public officials is pork. A president should know that.

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Itemized appropriations for projects are not pork because, under the law, the money can be spent only for that project. Lump-sum appropriations that top public officials can spend any way they want is pork.

And the DAP was disbursed the same way the PDAF was disbursed: coursed through senators and congressmen. It is like the billions of pesos allegedly coursed through the nongovernment organizations of alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles. The DAP is different from the PDAF in name only.

As much as P50 million to P100 million each in DAP funds was assigned by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to favored lawmakers—for their projects, they say. Isn’t that exactly the way the PDAF was disbursed—through the lawmakers, allegedly for their projects? And where did those millions of pesos in taxpayer money go? The lawmakers did not say. The Commission on Audit did not say, either.

But the people know: to private pockets.

The DAP is “savings,” according to P-Noy and Budget Secretary Butch Abad. If they are going to spend it, how can that be “savings”?

As for the PDAF, P-Noy claims he abolished it. But he abolished only the name.  The pork is still there, hidden in the budgets of executive departments. Lawmakers are still free to use it for their projects.

What is wrong with that? It is wrong because about half of it is lost to kickbacks. Less than half goes to the project itself; the rest is the profit of the contractor. That is why we have substandard roads that require frequent repairs. Because the contractor has to make do with what is left of the budget after he delivers the kickbacks.  In short, the PDAF (hidden or not), the DAP, and the Malampaya Fund waste the people’s money and corrupt so many people.

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In the case of the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam of Janet Napoles, nothing, not even a peso, went to the projects. Everything was stolen, all P10 billion of it.

P-Noy’s approval rating dropped because he continues to defend the pork with double-talk, the same pork that citizens hate so much. Citizens have told him clearly and forcefully that they want the system, not the name, abolished definitely, without any mental reservation.

“What will happen to the scholars and patients who need help?” P-Noy asks. It is the same excuse that lawmakers make.

Answer: The Department of Education will take care of the scholars and the Department of Health, and PhilHealth and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office will take care of the patients.

How will the national government know what roads and bridges to make without the people’s representatives? he asks again.

Answer: Through the regional offices of the Department of Public Works and Highways.  Why, are they not competent to know that?

Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson should look at the rural areas, not only at the streets in Metro Manila that he keeps repairing although they are still in good condition and do not need repairs. The so-called “road reblocking” is the greatest theft in broad daylight. Streets that are still in good condition are torn up and then concrete is poured again into the holes. They cost the people millions of pesos, while feeder roads in the provinces are not built allegedly because of “lack of funds.”

The Congressional Avenue Extension in Quezon City was only recently completed. I pass on it twice a day, and I saw nothing wrong with it. But contractors have torn up parts of it several times already and poured new concrete on them again—the so-called “reblocking.” The same is done with many other streets in Metro Manila.

Doesn’t Singson watch television or read the newspapers? If he does, he would have seen schoolchildren walking on dirt trails for hours and swimming across rivers to go to school because there are no roads and bridges. The excuse: No money. But there is plenty of it in urban areas and for members of Congress!

There are the regional, provincial, city, and municipal development councils that plan projects and recommend them for implementation to the executive branch. Congressmen are members of all these development councils. They can push their projects in these councils and, when found meritorious, the projects will be endorsed to the appropriate executive departments.  These departments will then ask Congress for budgets for these projects.

In this way, the people’s money will not be wasted.

Under the PDAF and DAP systems, there is plenty of duplication that wastes the people’s money. The congressman will have the same project as the governor and mayor because all of them want to get credit for the project. In the development councils, all the members get credit.

If P-Noy will only abolish—really truly, and honestly—all forms of pork, his approval rating will rise again. Do it.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, dap, Disbursement Acceleration Program, Janet Napoles, pork barrel, pork barrel scam, pork scam, President Aquino, Social Weather Stations
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