Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Noynoy Says New York Times Does Not Know

President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines is now hinting at running for a second term in 2016, which would require a constitutional amendment. He has also suggested limiting the power of the Supreme Court, which, on July 1, declared parts of Mr. Aquino’s economic program illegal. That, too, would require adjusting the Constitution. These threats jeopardize Philippine democracy.
Mr. Aquino wants more time to complete his reform programs, but there will always be unfinished business. The 1987 Constitution limits the president to a single six-year term. The Constitution was promulgated under his mother, Corazon Aquino, after the overthrow of the 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Despite her efforts, the presidency remained a fount of patronage and a source of corruption. Mr. Aquino’s two immediate predecessors, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Joseph Estrada, were charged after they left office with illegally feeding from the public trough. Ms. Arroyo was charged with misusing state lottery funds. Mr. Estrada was removed from office and convicted of various corruption charges, but he was pardoned in 2007.
Mr. Aquino believes that the Supreme Court has grown too powerful and that someone needs to reassert executive authority. By a 13-to-0 vote, the court struck down a spending program he created to stimulate the economy. It ruled that he had exceeded his authority in disbursing funds and that parts of the program consisted of irregular pork-barrel spending.
Mr. Aquino came to power in 2010 vowing to rid the Philippines of corruption. At that time, the country ranked 134th in Transparency International’s corruption index. In 2013, it ranked 94th. Mr. Aquino should uphold the Constitution of a fragile democracy if only out of respect for his father, who was assassinated in the struggle against Marcos, and for his mother, who died in 2009 after leading the “people power” that triumphed over the excesses and abuses of the presidency. In practical terms, that means he should stop butting heads with the court and gracefully step down when his term is up.

DAP funded CoA chief fails to explain missing SAROs

Commission on Audit Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan during a recent budget hearing in the House, lamented that the CoA’s budget was cut in half, and wailed about the agency’s lack in establishing provincial satellite offices where auditors will be housed to preserve their independence due to the slash in the budget and there would be no computerization too.
Yet she was given some P144 million from Noynoy and Butch Abad’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) for the same purpose, but this money was spent on cars and other stuff that had nothing to do with getting the agency computerized. Now she asks for the same thing when she had the money to do so, as per her request for additional funds from DAP? And this, despite the fact that there was a pool of CoA savings in the millions, which she never used to employ more auditors.
And she has the nerve to even claim the need for more money for the agency to become independent? She is so frlagrantly partisan to even try to be independent.
Hell, even a Sandiganbayan justice, who was so frustrated at the selective audits of the CoA, even branded the CoA as incompetent.
How incompetent CoA is under Grace Tan can be gleaned from what was said during the budget hearing, where she was questioned on the audit Tan had conducted on 3,158 allegedly questionable special allotment release orders (SAROs) worth more than P1 trillion issued under the Aquino administration.
During the agency’s budget hearing Monday, the CoA chairman pointed the finger at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as the best agency to explain the missing SAROs.
If she was truly independent and had not relied on the word of Abad that the SAROs of the allies were missing or lost, then she could have come clean with the public, especially the Senate, that her special audit on the pork barrel does not represent the true picture of the alleged scam. Heck, she even gave Noynoy an advance copy of the audit when he had no business seeing it first, since this was the Senate’s business.
It is probably more accurate to state that she was in on the Palace and its allies move in the Senate to frame the three opposition senators, since she could have obtained the copies of the SAROs from the resident auditors and not just rely on the claims of Abad, who was obviously protecting the allies, especially Noynoy, Mar and himself from being implicated in the pork scam. Absolutely no SAROs existing for them?
Abakada partylist Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz had been asking the audit body to disclose the records of the SAROs, saying the delay in doing so “is putting the entire audit process in a bad light and fuels public skepticism about the drama now unfolding about the misuse of public funds.”
CoA never responded.
“For a constitutional body, the present CoA leadership is wading into politicized territory. It does not augur well for our democracy, worse, it seems it is getting its cue from the budget department, which still has to submit its record as well,” De la Cruz added.
Based on the CoA report, De la Cruz said there were “missing, unaccounted for, double numbering and skipping of control numbers for 3,158 different SAROs as of Dec. 31, 2011.”
“The CoA report showed that the validity of 42,193 SAROs issued to government agencies totaling P1,942,286,355,788.38 remained doubtful due to gaps in the number series resulting in 3,158 unaccounted SAROs,” de la Cruz said.
“We consistently hear of budget cuts or shortage of funds for various purposes from the government. But here is more than P1 trillion in missing monies and the CoA is not giving it high priority,” De la Cruz said.
And what does the CoA chief say? She told the budget panel: “When we gather disbursement vouchers and other (pieces of evidence), we put them in sacks or just leave (them) in the office. Over time, how can you retrieve the documents which are all over the place? There are instances where we can’t produce it anymore because the documents are already lost.”
Good grief. Tan and Heidi Mendoza should be tarred, feathered, shot and spit upon by the people for being so cavalier about keeping records that could prove just where the public money went, and hold whoever accountable for this.
And what she did instead was to ensure a selective audit that would frame with a crime of plunder the three opposition senators, while the rest of the allies’ SAROs were conveniently lost, misplaced and no longer retrievable.
Who buys such a story of only the opposition senators having their complete files of SAROs, while the allies’ SARO records were lost or missing?
She’s no independent auditor. Worse, she is such an incompetent auditor.

New York Times slams PNoy over term extension, clipping SC powers

President Benigno Aquino III delivers his speech during the commemoration of National Heroes Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on Monday (August 25). Robert Viñas / Malacañang Photo Bureau
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III's hints at term extension and his proposal to limit the powers of the Supreme Court are "threats" that "jeopardize Philippine democracy," the New York Times warned in a recent editorial.
In the opinion piece Political Mischief in the Philippines published online on Thursday, the New York Times criticized Aquino for his openness to amend the 1987 Constitution, which was promulgated under his mother, the late president Corazon Aquino.
The New York Times said Aquino should uphold the Constitution of a "fragile democracy" out of respect for his parents, both of whom are regarded as democracy icons.
"In practical terms, that means he should stop butting heads with the court and gracefully step down when his term is up," the New York Times said.
In an exclusive interview with TV5 early this month, Aquino first expressed his openness to Charter Change, citing the need to clip the immense powers of the Supreme Court.
In another exclusive interview aired on Thursday, this time with Bombo Radyo, Aquino said the Supreme Court meddles too much in political issues, making it more difficult for him to run the government.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
"Perhaps judicial reach needs to be reviewed and limited," Aquino said.
The President said the high court's power to check other branches of government should be used sparingly and with restraint "but what seems to be is happening now is it is used often."
Aquino's suggestion to amend the Constitution due to the supposed judicial overreach fueled speculations that he is also open to the idea of lifting the president's single, six-year term limit.
But in the Bombo Radyo interview, Aquino clarified that his support for Charter Change has nothing to do with term extension, adding that he is looking forward to relinquish the presidency.

"Ako ba ang nag-aambisyon na pahabain [ang termino]?" Aquino said.
Aquino, however, still left open the possibility of seeking a longer term, reiterating that he listens to the orders of his bosses, the Filipino people.
He recalled that there have been ordinary people telling him to stay in office.
The President admitted that he is now consulting various sectors on how to ensure that his reforms are continued beyond 2016.

The New York Times editorial said "Aquino wants more time to complete his reform programs, but there will always be unfinished business." -Louis Bacani

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