Oct 032013

It is called the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP. Calling DAP an economic stimulus seems like an afterthought concocted by a devious bureaucrat to justify the use of taxpayer money in less than honorable ways.

If this happened during Ate Glue’s watch, I wouldn’t have been surprised. That it happened under P-Noy’s Daang Matuwid makes it a painful betrayal of the public trust.

I don’t buy the DBM’s justification of its existence as a means to get the economy moving at a time when the government agencies like DOTC couldn’t get their projects going. It is difficult to understand why, as Sec. Abad gives the impression, government agencies can move fast when funded by DAP but exhibit poor absorptive capacity with their regular budgets.

The better way to stimulate the economy is to get the infrastructure agencies to move their projects. The jobs created as well as the benefits the infra projects will bring will certainly boost the economy… legally and morally.

It is noteworthy we only heard of how DAP actually works the past few days. We only found out because Jinggoy Estrada revealed it as his defense on the pork issue. There were press releases and news reports in the Official Gazette on it but said nothing about asking senators to nominate projects, in the case of Sen. Frank Drilon, P100 million worth.

I am glad to note that I am not the only one originally madly supportive of P-Noy who does not buy this DAP story. Indeed, I wonder: are they starting to lose Conrad de Quiros? They are starting to lose me already but I didn’t think they would lose Conrad this soon too.

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I don’t understand why they can’t see what they are doing is wrong. How can they not see how they have betrayed the trust of the people while producing nothing visible that’s worthy of the taxes we are paying? Danny Gozo is right about how the enchanted water they drink at the Palace can affect an official’s perspective of reality.

Conrad raised the same questions I have. Butch Abad’s explanation is full of holes, Conrad writes. “The most obvious is that if the P50 million each given to the senators was a way of precipitating growth by funding their favorite infrastructure projects, how come Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Bongbong Marcos got nothing? Both voted in favor of Corona, along with Joker Arroyo.”

Conrad labors to follow Malacanang’s arguments: “you want to spur growth — and true enough it was held back in the second half of 2010 and the whole of 2011 by lack of public spending — why need the senators at all? Why course it through the PDAF at all?

“Government doesn’t lack for priority projects, or priority infrastructure projects. Education is chief of them, as the Constitution itself bids, building classrooms is chief of them. Why not just allocate it to it? Why think pork? Why go pork?”

Conrad calls DAP, “yet again another one of those lump-sum appropriations unheard of until he (Abad) pulled it out of his hat… The DAP is not something the government can attribute to the Gloria Arroyo regime.

“It deals the final, mortal blow at pork, robbing it of any justification whatsoever. The idea that government can make pork safe by instituting corrective measures isn’t strengthened by the DBM’s own willingness, if not eagerness, to resort to things like this to keep Congress in line.”

Here comes the sense of betrayal that Conrad and I feel:  “… the Daang Matuwid cannot be prosecuted through the Daang Baluktot. The latter will always be a minefield that could blow up anytime in your face. This fiasco shows so.”

Why is it so difficult for this administration to understand that the people, particularly those who helped get them to Malacañang, are holding them to a very much higher standard of behavior? If this happened during Ate Glue’s time, we would have been just as indignant, but would have shrugged our shoulders and say that’s expected from her.

But P-Noy? If P-Noy cannot behave in the straight and narrow way he promised he would, then this country is hopeless. The sense of indignation today is high not because we only found out now with the pork scam that our officials are robbing us blind. We are incensed that P-Noy could allow this sort of thing to happen in his watch. Now we wonder what other unpleasant surprises we will have in the future.

One other thing I don’t like with DAP, other than the fact that experts say it is illegal and even unconstitutional, is how they created it by pooling savings of various agencies. Something is so wrong there. Savings should be returned to the General Fund.

Allowing the use of savings to fund a presidential pork fund like DAP gives them an incentive to overestimate the budget. They have to borrow to fund an excessive budget which puts the burden on us and future generations of Filipino taxpayers. That is so wrong.

At times like this, I wish we had a parliamentary government so we can have a quick vote of confidence and a fresh start. But there are still more than two years in P-Noy’s term and we cannot afford the prevailing atmosphere of distrust to hang over us up to 2016. Let us uncover the anomalies of Ate Glue which P-Noy says is about a trillion pesos worth. But let us not turn a blind eye on the anomalies since she bowed out of office.

My advice to Malacañang is to come clean. Admit you guys were wrong to have conjured DAP. Say you are all ready to face the consequences… and it will never happen again under P-Noy’s watch. Nothing less will quench the public’s anger. Some humility and penance are called for.

DOTC watch

I heard rumors that the Notice to Proceed (NTP) has been given for Takenaka to get the completion of NAIA T3 going. This was confirmed to me by Sec. Jun Abaya in a text message: “I’ve signed the payment for their 15-percent mobilization down payment. We have given the Notice to Proceed. Once they receive the payment they will proceed.”

On NAIA T1, I asked Sec. Abaya what is the status of the much talked about and much delayed makeover. I was at the terminal last week when we took a KLM flight to Amsterdam. I saw nothing going on that’s good news to us all. So I texted Sec. Abaya to ask if they started work at the old terminal and this is his reply:

“Not yet. We are currently procuring the consultancy services and the construction management services. We expect to award and issue NTP on or before October 15. The gencon we expect to award November 15 and issue NTP end of November.

“We plan to have works started December 1. Target completion deadline is end of November 2014 for the ministerial mtgs of APEC 2015.”

I thought we were going to have everything ready for the World Economic Forum next year. Apparently, not! And unless they follow their schedules strictly, not to be expected with DOTC, let us not think they will meet the APEC deadline. They have also not told us what they plan to do by way of makeover.

As for the car plates, here is what a source told me: “Just heard that DOTC failed to obtain MYOA (Multi-Year Obligational Authority) from DBM prior to bidding out the license plate standardization project. Because of this, DOTC cannot issue a Notice to Proceed to the supposed winning bidder.

“This is the reason why the DOTC has announced the indefinite postponement of the issuance of new plates. A re-bidding will be called because the previous one was illegal. Criminal culpability is possible.”

I thought they had hotshot lawyers brought in by Sec. Mar Roxas into DOTC? These lawyers are apparently not good enough. They also have a technical deficit to conduct the intelligent awarding of projects… what are these lawyers good for?

The rabbi and the priest

A priest and a rabbi were sitting next to each other on an airplane.

 After a while, the priest turned to the rabbi and asked, “Is it still a requirement of your faith that you not eat pork?”

The rabbi responded, “Yes, that is still one of our laws.”

The priest then asked, “Have you ever eaten pork?”

The rabbi replied, “Yes, on one occasion I did succumb to temptation and tasted a ham sandwich.”

The priest nodded in understanding and went on with his reading.

The rabbi then asked him, “Father, have you ever fallen to the temptations of the flesh?”

The priest replied, “Yes, rabbi, on one occasion I was weak and broke my faith.”

The rabbi nodded understandingly and remained silent, thinking for a few minutes.

 Finally, the rabbi said, “Beats a ham sandwich, doesn’t it?”

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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