Opposition lawmakers and Catholic bishops on Saturday demanded full disclosure by the Commission on Audit on all transactions involving the pork barrel and President Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program even as Malacañang insists that those who figured in the DAP should be declared innocent until proven guilty.
Members of the House Independent Minority Bloc pressed for a scrutiny of the DAP from 2010 up to the present in light of the Supreme Court ruling declaring Congress’ pork barrel and the President’s DAP as illegal and unconstitutional.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte took up the cudgels for Budget officials, saying that it is only fair to afford anyone, either opposition or administration, to have them undergo the legal process,” Valte said on state-run radio.
The House bloc led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said that since the public could no longer expect Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, said to be the architect of DAP, to provide them a full accounting of funds, “it is the constitutional” duty of the CoA to reveal all the details of the pork barrel and DAP.
The Budget and CoA stonewalled and deliberately prevented any full disclosure of all these public monies for obvious political reasons, said bloc member Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz of Abakada party-list.
“The Filipino people has the right to know. CoA chief Grace Pullido-Tan, an Aquino appointee and now the favorite to occupy the latest vacancy in the SC is duty-bound to disclose all the details of how public money was spent for the congressional pork and the President’s DAP,” de la Cruz said.
He said it is now time that the people should know the total bill of government’s graft and corruption without any window-dressing and cover-up.
The bloc’s demand for an audit of DAP was also raised by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines which prodded the COA and the office of the Ombudsman to tell the nation where DAP funds went.
The CBCP reiterated its warning against selective justice and urged government to “let go” of those involved, even if they are from its ranks.
In a statement signed by CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said: “While, indeed, in many cases, it would be impractical, unhelpful even, to undo every project funded by what the High Court has ruled to be unconstitutional means, we must nevertheless know how these monies were used, for where there was illegal and immoral application of funds, there must be restitution.”
Villegas stressed the need for accountability, adding that investigation and inquest “cannot and must not be selective.”
A public perception that some are shielded while others are persecuted “detracts from the confidence people must repose in their institutions,” Villegas said.
“A government that professes to tread the straight path must remain true to that profession and must be willing to let go of the corrupt in its own ranks! We in the Church will do the same,” he said.
The prosecution and punishment “of a few will not rid the nation of the propensity to corruption that is found in us all,” he said.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, for his part, urged the House leadership headed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. to act on his resolution seeking a congressional inquiry into the so-called presidential pork.
Ridon, being one of the petitioners against DAP, also filed last year House Resolution 359 which urged the joint House committees on appropriations and on good government and public accountability to investigate the DAP. Ridon is set to file an impeachment case against President Aquino over DAP.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, one of the petitioners against the PDAF DAP, said “the DAP exposes the hypocrisy of the Aquino administration’s hallow, selective and even deceptive anti-corruption campaign.”
“For this gravely unconstitutional act, President Aquino , Secretary (Florencio) Abad and all those responsible for DAP must be made accountable, in the same manner that those involved in the PDAF [priority development assistance funds] are to be made accountable,” Zarate said.
Zarate said that a full accounting of all government transactions involving the legislators’ priority development assistance funds and the President’s pork barrel funds in the guise of DAP was in order to determine the extent of corruption under the Aquino government harping on “Daang Matuwid.”
Last November, the SC declared the legislators’ PDAF unconstitutional under 2013 General Appropriations Act and all similar provisions on the pork barrel system as illegal because “it allowed legislators to wield, in varying gradiations, non-oversight, post-enactment authority in vital areas of budget executions (thus violating) the principle of separation of powers.”
The legality of PDAF was questioned in light of the Napoles scandal involving multi-million peso people’s money.
The High Court last week declared President Aquino’s DAP unconstitutional, saying the President and other public officials as respodents to the DAP case violated the doctrine of separation of powers.
The DAP came under fire last year after several senators disclosed that program funds were used as “incentives” for legislators who supported the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.
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