Monthly Archives: November 2013

Cause of Social Dysfunction

Expanded presidential powers cause of society’s dysfunction
By MANUEL F. ALMARIO

Philippine Daily Inquirer
9:27 pm | Sunday, November 17th, 2013
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In my commentary of Nov. 4, 2013, titled “The Philippines’ debt hole,” I failed to mention that in the United States all members, including the chair and the vice chair, of the Federal Reserve System or Federal Reserve which is the US central banking system, are appointed by the president but confirmed by the Senate. This secures the independence of the agency, whose main functions are to promote employment and prevent inflation through monetary regulations.

On the other hand, all seven members of our Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) are appointed by the president without confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, which is composed of senators and congressmen. The BSP has also the power to incur foreign loans with the “prior concurrence” of the president and to approve borrowings by local government units. The power to borrow money, both from local and foreign sources, is thus lodged exclusively in the chief executive.
In the United States, the power to raise money through loans is exercised exclusively by Congress. This is only rational because it is Congress that is empowered to pass laws to raise tax revenues for government expenses,
including debt payment.

Our public debt is now estimated to be at least 50 percent of our gross domestic product, requiring the allocation of 34 percent of our national budget to debt service.

Ever since the English Magna Carta of 1215, the “power of the purse” was lodged in the representatives of the people. The Magna Carta required the king (the executive) to get the consent of the people through the barons before levying taxes. Our 1935 and 1987 constitutions provide that “bills authorizing increase of the public debt” must originate from the House of Representatives, but “the Senate may propose or concur with amendments.” This has been ignored by Presidential Decree No. 1177 issued by Ferdinand Marcos, and by Republic Act No. 7553, the New Central Bank Act.

Further, the independence of the third branch of government, the judiciary, was also undermined when the 1987 Constitution removed from Congress the power to confirm the president’s appointments of the Supreme Court justices and the lower court judges. Under the 1935 Constitution, all appointments of justices and judges by the president must be approved by the Commission on Appointments.

But under the 1987 Constitution, appointments to the judiciary must be confirmed only by the Judicial and Bar Council, all seven members of whom, except one (a member of Congress), are appointees of the president. This is a farce.

Hence, the powers of the president have been enhanced resulting in the emasculation of the countervailing powers of the legislature and the judiciary. The cart of checks and balances between supposedly coequal and independent branches of government, necessary to prevent official abuses, has been overturned.

This is the main cause of the dysfunction and imbalance of our society, leading to massive corruption and widespread poverty that are now
agitating our people.

—MANUEL F. ALMARIO,
spokesman,
Movement for Truth in History (MOTH), mfalmario@yahoo.com

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/65547/expanded-presidential-powers-cause-of-societys-dysfunction#ixzz2kxFw2N7p
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The difference between PDAF and DAP

The difference between PDAF and DAP

 

Oct. 25, 2013

The Editor

Philippine Daily Inquirer

 

Dear Editor:

 

          In his column of Oct. 25, 2013, titled “Conspiracy theories”, Mr. Amando Doronila failed to make an important distinction between the Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) and the Development Accelerated Program (DAP), which is what really concerns the public.

  

          Billions of PDAF or “pork barrel funds”, which were intended for public projects and services, were allegedly stolen or pocketed by private persons through fake NGOs (nongovernment organizations) with the connivance of certain senators and congressmen who also allegedly benefited from the scam.  Some or all of them (in the Napoles cases) have been formally accused of “plunder” by the Department of Justice before the Ombudsman.

 

          On the other hand, there is no allegation either by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who first “exposed” the DAP in a Senate privilege speech, nor by former Senator Joker Arroyo, that the P50 million in DAP funds which were released for public projects upon the advice of certain senators or congressmen were stolen or pocketed by them. 

 

          Estrada had called the DAP funds a “bribe” to legislators who actively supported the impeachment of former Chef Justice Renato Corona.  But he did not assert  that the money went to the pockets of the legislators, or to persons not authorized by law.   The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) affirms that the money was spent for public projects and services designated by the legislators concerned. 

 

           Senator Arroyo, whose hands had never been greased by pork barrel funds, admitted that he had requested for the release of P47 million by DBM for the building of classrooms in Iriga and Baao, Camarines Sur, which cost P10 million each, and for medical aid to indigent patients at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Lung Center of the Philippines, the Philippine Heart Center, and the Bicol Medical Center in Naga.

 

          Arroyo did not complain that the DAP funds which were released on his advice did not go to the institutions which he had designated.  Neither is there any allegation or suspicion that any of these P47 million DAP funds ended in the pockets of Joker, who would not even receive the allowances intended for the maintenance of his Senate office.  We can assume that the money was spent as Joker advised it to be. 

 

          What Joker was complaining about was that the funds from the DAP came from “savings” which he claimed could not be disbursed by the Executive without an appropriation by Congress.  He therefore believes that the DAP is unconstitutional, to which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) disagrees.  Now that is an issue that still has to be settled by the Supreme Court.

 

          This difference is what President Aquino – in his speech before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines – meant when he said the media should “keep their eyes on the ball.”  The “ball”, insofar as the public is concerned, are the billions of PDAF funds which were misappropriated for private use.  It is a criminal matter.  The public  wants it prosecuted as fast as possible and the guilty parties sent to jail for plunder.

 

          The DAP is solely a constitutional issue, barring any suggestion or complaint that it was used to cover up the theft or malversation of public funds.  The PDAF may also be raised as a constitutional issue on the ground that the appropriation of public funds is a collective congressional decision, and should not be left to the individual discretion of legislators.  

 

          However, the President is right to be worried that certain quarters are deliberately confusing the issues in order to divert the public’s attention to another ball game. Further, the new ball game has him on its sights. 

 

 

MANUEL F. ALMARIO

Spokesman, Movement for Truth in History

(Email, mfalmario@yahoo.com)

 

The difference between PDAF and DAP

 

Oct. 25, 2013

The Editor

Philippine Daily Inquirer

 

Dear Editor:

 

          In his column of Oct. 25, 2013, titled “Conspiracy theories”, Mr. Amando Doronila failed to make an important distinction between the Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) and the Development Accelerated Program (DAP), which is what really concerns the public.

  

          Billions of PDAF or “pork barrel funds”, which were intended for public projects and services, were allegedly stolen or pocketed by private persons through fake NGOs (nongovernment organizations) with the connivance of certain senators and congressmen who also allegedly benefited from the scam.  Some or all of them (in the Napoles cases) have been formally accused of “plunder” by the Department of Justice before the Ombudsman.

 

          On the other hand, there is no allegation either by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who first “exposed” the DAP in a Senate privilege speech, nor by former Senator Joker Arroyo, that the P50 million in DAP funds which were released for public projects upon the advice of certain senators or congressmen were stolen or pocketed by them. 

 

          Estrada had called the DAP funds a “bribe” to legislators who actively supported the impeachment of former Chef Justice Renato Corona.  But he did not assert  that the money went to the pockets of the legislators, or to persons not authorized by law.   The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) affirms that the money was spent for public projects and services designated by the legislators concerned. 

 

           Senator Arroyo, whose hands had never been greased by pork barrel funds, admitted that he had requested for the release of P47 million by DBM for the building of classrooms in Iriga and Baao, Camarines Sur, which cost P10 million each, and for medical aid to indigent patients at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Lung Center of the Philippines, the Philippine Heart Center, and the Bicol Medical Center in Naga.

 

          Arroyo did not complain that the DAP funds which were released on his advice did not go to the institutions which he had designated.  Neither is there any allegation or suspicion that any of these P47 million DAP funds ended in the pockets of Joker, who would not even receive the allowances intended for the maintenance of his Senate office.  We can assume that the money was spent as Joker advised it to be. 

 

          What Joker was complaining about was that the funds from the DAP came from “savings” which he claimed could not be disbursed by the Executive without an appropriation by Congress.  He therefore believes that the DAP is unconstitutional, to which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) disagrees.  Now that is an issue that still has to be settled by the Supreme Court.

 

          This difference is what President Aquino – in his speech before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines – meant when he said the media should “keep their eyes on the ball.”  The “ball”, insofar as the public is concerned, are the billions of PDAF funds which were misappropriated for private use.  It is a criminal matter.  The public  wants it prosecuted as fast as possible and the guilty parties sent to jail for plunder.

 

          The DAP is solely a constitutional issue, barring any suggestion or complaint that it was used to cover up the theft or malversation of public funds.  The PDAF may also be raised as a constitutional issue on the ground that the appropriation of public funds is a collective congressional decision, and should not be left to the individual discretion of legislators.  

 

          However, the President is right to be worried that certain quarters are deliberately confusing the issues in order to divert the public’s attention to another ball game. Further, the new ball game has him on its sights. 

 

 

MANUEL F. ALMARIO

Spokesman, Movement for Truth in History

(Email, mfalmario@yahoo.com)

The difference between PDAF and DAP

 

Oct. 25, 2013

The Editor

Philippine Daily Inquirer

 

Dear Editor:

 

          In his column of Oct. 25, 2013, titled “Conspiracy theories”, Mr. Amando Doronila failed to make an important distinction between the Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) and the Development Accelerated Program (DAP), which is what really concerns the public.

  

          Billions of PDAF or “pork barrel funds”, which were intended for public projects and services, were allegedly stolen or pocketed by private persons through fake NGOs (nongovernment organizations) with the connivance of certain senators and congressmen who also allegedly benefited from the scam.  Some or all of them (in the Napoles cases) have been formally accused of “plunder” by the Department of Justice before the Ombudsman.

 

          On the other hand, there is no allegation either by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who first “exposed” the DAP in a Senate privilege speech, nor by former Senator Joker Arroyo, that the P50 million in DAP funds which were released for public projects upon the advice of certain senators or congressmen were stolen or pocketed by them. 

 

          Estrada had called the DAP funds a “bribe” to legislators who actively supported the impeachment of former Chef Justice Renato Corona.  But he did not assert  that the money went to the pockets of the legislators, or to persons not authorized by law.   The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) affirms that the money was spent for public projects and services designated by the legislators concerned. 

 

           Senator Arroyo, whose hands had never been greased by pork barrel funds, admitted that he had requested for the release of P47 million by DBM for the building of classrooms in Iriga and Baao, Camarines Sur, which cost P10 million each, and for medical aid to indigent patients at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Lung Center of the Philippines, the Philippine Heart Center, and the Bicol Medical Center in Naga.

 

          Arroyo did not complain that the DAP funds which were released on his advice did not go to the institutions which he had designated.  Neither is there any allegation or suspicion that any of these P47 million DAP funds ended in the pockets of Joker, who would not even receive the allowances intended for the maintenance of his Senate office.  We can assume that the money was spent as Joker advised it to be. 

 

          What Joker was complaining about was that the funds from the DAP came from “savings” which he claimed could not be disbursed by the Executive without an appropriation by Congress.  He therefore believes that the DAP is unconstitutional, to which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) disagrees.  Now that is an issue that still has to be settled by the Supreme Court.

 

          This difference is what President Aquino – in his speech before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines – meant when he said the media should “keep their eyes on the ball.”  The “ball”, insofar as the public is concerned, are the billions of PDAF funds which were misappropriated for private use.  It is a criminal matter.  The public  wants it prosecuted as fast as possible and the guilty parties sent to jail for plunder.

 

          The DAP is solely a constitutional issue, barring any suggestion or complaint that it was used to cover up the theft or malversation of public funds.  The PDAF may also be raised as a constitutional issue on the ground that the appropriation of public funds is a collective congressional decision, and should not be left to the individual discretion of legislators.  

 

          However, the President is right to be worried that certain quarters are deliberately confusing the issues in order to divert the public’s attention to another ball game. Further, the new ball game has him on its sights. 

 

 

MANUEL F. ALMARIO

Spokesman, Movement for Truth in History

(Email, mfalmario@yahoo.com)

 

The difference between PDAF and DAP

 

Oct. 25, 2013

The Editor

Philippine Daily Inquirer

 

Dear Editor:

 

          In his column of Oct. 25, 2013, titled “Conspiracy theories”, Mr. Amando Doronila failed to make an important distinction between the Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) and the Development Accelerated Program (DAP), which is what really concerns the public.

  

          Billions of PDAF or “pork barrel funds”, which were intended for public projects and services, were allegedly stolen or pocketed by private persons through fake NGOs (nongovernment organizations) with the connivance of certain senators and congressmen who also allegedly benefited from the scam.  Some or all of them (in the Napoles cases) have been formally accused of “plunder” by the Department of Justice before the Ombudsman.

 

          On the other hand, there is no allegation either by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who first “exposed” the DAP in a Senate privilege speech, nor by former Senator Joker Arroyo, that the P50 million in DAP funds which were released for public projects upon the advice of certain senators or congressmen were stolen or pocketed by them. 

 

          Estrada had called the DAP funds a “bribe” to legislators who actively supported the impeachment of former Chef Justice Renato Corona.  But he did not assert  that the money went to the pockets of the legislators, or to persons not authorized by law.   The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) affirms that the money was spent for public projects and services designated by the legislators concerned. 

 

           Senator Arroyo, whose hands had never been greased by pork barrel funds, admitted that he had requested for the release of P47 million by DBM for the building of classrooms in Iriga and Baao, Camarines Sur, which cost P10 million each, and for medical aid to indigent patients at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Lung Center of the Philippines, the Philippine Heart Center, and the Bicol Medical Center in Naga.

 

          Arroyo did not complain that the DAP funds which were released on his advice did not go to the institutions which he had designated.  Neither is there any allegation or suspicion that any of these P47 million DAP funds ended in the pockets of Joker, who would not even receive the allowances intended for the maintenance of his Senate office.  We can assume that the money was spent as Joker advised it to be. 

 

          What Joker was complaining about was that the funds from the DAP came from “savings” which he claimed could not be disbursed by the Executive without an appropriation by Congress.  He therefore believes that the DAP is unconstitutional, to which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) disagrees.  Now that is an issue that still has to be settled by the Supreme Court.

 

          This difference is what President Aquino – in his speech before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines – meant when he said the media should “keep their eyes on the ball.”  The “ball”, insofar as the public is concerned, are the billions of PDAF funds which were misappropriated for private use.  It is a criminal matter.  The public  wants it prosecuted as fast as possible and the guilty parties sent to jail for plunder.

 

          The DAP is solely a constitutional issue, barring any suggestion or complaint that it was used to cover up the theft or malversation of public funds.  The PDAF may also be raised as a constitutional issue on the ground that the appropriation of public funds is a collective congressional decision, and should not be left to the individual discretion of legislators.  

 

          However, the President is right to be worried that certain quarters are deliberately confusing the issues in order to divert the public’s attention to another ball game. Further, the new ball game has him on its sights. 

 

 

MANUEL F. ALMARIO

Spokesman, Movement for Truth in History

(Email, mfalmario@yahoo.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The difference between PDAF and DAP

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Commentary

The Philippines’ debt hole

By MANUEL F. ALMARIO

11:34 pm | Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

 1 59 3

The embarrassing and scary government shutdown in the United States won’t happen in the Philippines. The reason? We don’t have a debt ceiling, unlike in America. Here, the sky’s the limit for public borrowing. The president is authorized to borrow money as much and for as long as he/she wants.

 

Under Sec. 20, Art. VII of the 1987 Constitution, the president has the power to “contract or guarantee foreign loans on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines with the prior concurrence of the Monetary Board, and subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”

 

Also, under Republic Act No. 7553, the New Central Bank Act, all internal and local borrowing by the national government and its political subdivisions, including cities and municipalities, shall be subject only to the approval of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. All seven members of the Bangko Sentral, including five from the private sector, are appointed by the president, and so what he/she says goes.

 

This is despite Sec. 24, Art. VII, which states: “All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills,  bills  authorizing  increase  of  the  public  debt, bills of local application, and private bills, shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments.”

 

Presidential Decree 1177, issued by Ferdinand Marcos in 1977, provides for the automatic appropriation in the national budget of the payment of the principal and interest of the public debt. Marcos signed the decree to bolster his authoritarian “New Society.” Our foreign debt rose from $7 billion in 1965 when Marcos was first elected to $27 billion in 1986 when he was ousted. As of the first quarter of 2012, our foreign debt was $62.9 billion, up by 3.3 percent from that of the previous year (Inquirer, 6/22/12), constituting 50 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP).

 

Because of PD 1177, the international credit rating agencies have always given the Philippines a favorable rating. Unlike the United States and other countries, the Philippines cannot default because it has guaranteed debt payment from our taxes. As our borrowings go up, more and higher taxes are imposed to pay for them—thus the onerous 12-percent VAT and higher taxes on cigarettes and liquor.

 

According to the Department of Finance, the government is allocating P791.5 billion for public debt servicing in 2014, which is 34 percent of the proposed P2.2-trillion national budget for next year. Every P34 of every P100 in our budget goes to payment of the public debt.

The appropriation for debt payment in the 2014 budget is more than the combined allocation for the Departments of Education (P336.9 billion) and of Public Works and Highways (P213.5 billion).

 

Total public debt as of May this year was P5.36 trillion. It is expected to rise to P5.78 trillion by the yearend, equivalent to 48 percent of the GDP. By Dec. 31, every Filipino man, woman and child will owe P55,195.65 in government debt (estimating the population at 92 million), up from P51,675 just two years ago.

 

 

The Philippines’ bottomless debt hole perpetuates our annual budgetary deficit that requires us to borrow more money and raise more taxes, bonding us like feudal peons to financial landlords for as long as the current debt policy persists.

 

In their 1991 petition questioning the constitutionality of the automatic appropriation of the debt service, then Senators Teofisto Guingona Jr. and Aquilino Pimentel Jr. pointed out that it was in violation of Sec. 5, Art. XIV of the Constitution which mandates the “highest budgetary priority to education.”

 

Voting 8-4, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition, citing Sec. 3, Art. XVIII of the Constitution which states: “All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions and other executive issuances not inconsistent with the Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed or revoked.”

 

Thus, a decree issued by a dead dictator remains in force more than three decades after his overthrow. PD 1177, introducing the “budgetary reforms” of the “New Society,” is the same vicious decree that originated the pork barrel, now the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which have ravaged our national finances and diverted billions of pesos in public money to private wallets.

 

Associate Justice Edgardo Paras wrote a strong dissenting opinion to the high court’s majority decision in the 1991 Pimentel-Guingona challenge: “I dissent. Any law that undermines our economy and therefore our security is per se unconstitutional.”

 

Justice Isagani Cruz, also dissenting, affirmed: “I think it is a mistake for this government to justify its acts on the basis of the decrees of President Marcos. These are on the whole tainted with authoritarianism and enfeebled by lack of proper study and draftsmanship, let alone suspect motives.” Justice Abraham Sarmiento concurred.

 

Justice Teodoro Padilla, likewise dissenting, said:  “[T]hese decrees issued by President Marcos relative to debt service were tailored for the periods covered by said decrees. Today it is Congress that should determine and approve the proper appropriations for debt servicing…”

 

Unless PD 1177 is  repealed by Congress, the Philippines will always be overburdened by debt, especially the foreign debt which drains our national resources, including the remittances of more than a million overseas workers. Despite their remittances of more than P1 billion a month, our debt burden continues to balloon.

 

Doubtless, international banks and even local banks are happy with our automatic payment of debt service, for their lending to our government is practically risk-free. So long as PD 1177 is in the books, they will never suffer the jitters of China and Japan, the biggest creditors of the United States, when they faced the prospect of a US default due to the debt-ceiling impasse between President Barack Obama and the US Congress.

Yet we are less capable of paying, because our nominal per capita GDP is just $2,614, while that of America is a whopping $49,999.

 

Manuel F. Almario (mfalmario@yahoo.com) is a veteran journalist and spokesman of the Movement for Truth in History, Rizal’s MOTH.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/64639/the-philippines-debt-hole#ixzz2jdK10DB6 
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November 4, 2013 · 1:14 am