I hope Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s intention to file a resolution requesting the Senate leadership to conduct question hour on Budget Secretary Butch Abad pushes through and force him to release vital information regarding the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
At least Santiago’s question hour with Abad is much, much more credible than the previous Senate inquiry that they did on Abad. Senate President Frank Drilon, the biggest “pork barrel” beneficiary, coached Abad in parrying questions thrown by some senators amid allegations that most, if not all projects funded through DAP, were either fake or grossly overpriced.
As long as Drilon is the Senate President, and Belmonte as Speaker of the house, I don’t have much hope in both chambers ever reasserting their independence from Malacañang. Both Drilon and Belmonte will do whatever Malacañang wants.
Drilon and some other senators and congressmen who benefitted from the DAP funds have lost all their moral authority to govern. The public has lost faith in them, except for a few lawmakers.
Abad’s presence in the Senate however will require presidential approval, according to a Malacañang spokesman. If and when President Noynoy invokes his executive privilege, the Senate cannot compel Abad to testify about the illegal DAP funds.
I do not see any reason for the President to prevent Abad from appearing before the Senate and being subjected to the question hour since the information the Senate seeks is not covered by the doctrine of executive privilege. Unless the administration wants Abad to withhold information regarding DAP allocations, Noynoy has no choice but to invoke that executive privilege. The executive privilege is recognized only in relation to certain types of information like military, diplomatic and other national security concerns. Whether Abad’s information deals with any of these is anybody’s guess, but definitely significant to the future of our country.
Santiago’s move to hold a question hour session with Abad is pursuant to Congress’ oversight functions, a process provided for by Article 22 of the Constitution. If and when Abad will have the balls to appear before the Senate, he has to explain how the P6.5 billion DAP funds were given to lawmakers before and during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
In her proposed resolution to the Senate leadership, Santiago asked that Abad bring with him a list of the total DAP funds given to each senator and congressman. Everybody knows that the DAP funds we’re used by the Aquino administration to bribe the lawmakers to seal the deal in the conviction of Corona.
A ruling has been handed down recently by the Supreme Court declaring portions of the DAP as unconstitutional. However, President Noynoy and his allies have challenged the high court’s ruling.
The controversial DAP fund came out in the open after Senator Jingoy Estrada delivered a privilege speech in the Senate last year that some senators, including himself, received P50 million each as incentive for voting in favor of the impeachment of the then Chief Justice Corona. He said the P50 million was on top of their regular PDAF allocations.
Only three senators voted against the Corona impeachment. They are Senators Santiago, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos and Joker arroyo. All three of them denied having received DAP related funds.
As I write this column, there is still no word if Santiago will push through with her plan. Will President Noynoy allow Abad to testify before the senate? If he does, Abad will surely incriminate most of Noynoy’s senator allies who all received the P50 million fund bribe.
Now it’s in the open. Vice President Jojo Binay has been exposed by his former best friend and vice mayor on how he was able to accumulate millions of pesos throughout his 19-year reign as chief executive of the City of Makati.
Binay in hot water
It seems tha things are unraveling in the financial district. The former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado has just told senators in the hearing in the senate regarding the overpriced car park building that Vice President Binay allegedly gets 13 per cent kickbacks for every contract for projects entered into by the Makati City government throughout his incumbency as mayor.
For being subservient then to Mayor Jojo Binay, Mercado said he got P80 million as “commission,” although he was “promised” to get P120 million.
Mercado also fingered the vice president’s wife, Dra. Elenita Binay, one time Makati mayor, as having received from P1.9 to P2.4 million as “payoff” from the city’s garbage collection contract.
The Vice President Binay and his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, have been named respondents in a plunder complaint in connection with the alleged overpriced multi-billion car park building construction, which many hope affect his presidential ambitions in 2016. The elder Binay is the presumptuous opposition presidential candidate in the 2016 national election. He has been leading all opinion polls conducted from time to time against other candidates aspiring for the presidency, including Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, whom he beat for the vice presidency.