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Foolhardy or daring?

It would appear a foolhardy resolution on the part of P-Noy to declare his intent to file a motion for reconsideration in the Supreme Court with regard to its 13-0 decision finding the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), or rather parts of it, unconstitutional.

It seems a shot in the dark, a suntok sa buwan, to expect the high court to reverse itself on such a contentious issue. But when the President declared his plan to challenge the magistrates the other day in Malacañang, he sounded eerily confident. Does he know something we don’t?

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As he explained the reasons behind the formulation of the DAP and how it was formulated in “good faith” to speed up the implementation of projects, it appeared that the President felt little remorse for his actions.

These were borne, he said in his speech, out of a sense of urgency. Citing the project to relocate thousands of urban poor families living in dangerous areas near bodies of water prone to flooding, P-Noy noted that under the “old” system that the Supreme Court seeks to restore, “the second typhoon season would already be starting before we could start rescuing our countrymen.” He asked: “Is it right to say to those living in dangerous areas to simply resort to prayer in the meantime?”

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REACTING to those who say the DAP is no different from the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund), which today has caused the incarceration of three senators and various personalities involved in the “pork barrel scam,” Mr. Aquino reacted viscerally.

“Excuse me, the DAP is different from the PDAF,” he said. “With the PDAF, some gave government funds to fake NGOs, and supposedly some abusive persons simply divided the [money] among themselves.”

Under the DAP, he said, “it is clear that no money was stolen—instead, government sought to spend it so that benefits would reach [recipients]. Not later on, or in the future, [but] now na. What could be implemented at once was implemented at once.”

So, however risky the move—and P-Noy may be expending the last of his political capital in filing the motion for reconsideration—I look forward to seeing how this impasse works out. Is it a constitutional crisis? Only if confrontation is resorted to instead of reasonable compromise and reasoned arguments.

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ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman wore a black T-shirt with the words “I Speak Peace” emblazoned on it when he appeared as a guest at yesterday’s “Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel.”

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Actually, he wore the T-shirt earlier at a prayer rally in front of the Israeli Embassy to protest the bombings being carried out in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip, part of the escalation of hostilities arising, this time around, from the tit-for-tat kidnapping of Israeli and Palestinian youths and the missile attacks launched against Israeli towns.

But he might well have worn the shirt as an expression of his belief in our own local peace process, which will soon culminate in the expected creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Government, the fruit of decades of peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Force.

Hataman is playing a crucial role in that process. He will soon step down as governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao once the Bangsamoro Transition Authority is set up, in preparation for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the holding of a plebiscite in the area covered by the law, and, in 2016, the elections for the first set of officials of the autonomous government.

As the last ARMM governor, Hataman will be crucial in the hoped-for peaceful transition to a new form of government in the autonomous region. Selected by Mr. Aquino, his old friend and former colleague in the House of Representatives, Hataman was charged with transforming the “old” ARMM into a more efficient, transparent and accountable version, and to shepherd the fledgling Bangsamoro through the difficult early days.

“I accepted the offer [to be appointed as and, later, run for ARMM governor] because I was sure I would step down once the peace process was completed,” he replied when asked why he agreed to accept responsibility for ARMM, knowing it would be a “temporary” arrangement. He is thus one of the few government officials I know who seems willing—even eager—to leave the trappings of power with no rancor or misgivings.

But while he said he was ready to return to civilian life, he conceded that he had plans to run for congressman in his native Basilan in the coming polls. “I would like to try my hand at being a fiscalizer this time,” he said.

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EVEN as he prepares to leave his post in the ARMM, he is leaving the new Bangsamoro officials a substantial kitty from which to draw funds for their own development plans, Hataman said. The current ARMM budget now is P13 billion, and he and his officials are sitting with MILF officials, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Development Academy of the Philippines, and foreign aid agencies to draw up an overall development plan for the Bangsamoro area, as well as continue training in governance and planning for the future Bangsamoro civil service.

Even now, the future is looking bright for the Bangsamoro, he said, with local and foreign investors expressing interest in projects ranging from power generation to oil exploration, palm oil plantations to agribusiness expansion, and even tourism development.

Of course, the peace and order situation in the area remains “challenging,” conceded Hataman, but many of the blow-ups are “local conflicts,” and while in the past kidnappings were considered a minor industry in Mindanao, “lately there haven’t been any reported kidnappings in Mindanao, only in other parts of the country.”

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TAGS: dap, Disbursement Acceleration Program, P-Noy, PDAF, President Aquino, Priority Development Assistance Fund, Supreme Court
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