MANILA (Mabuhay) – Even as his administration continues to be buffeted by multiple scandals involving the massive misuse of discretionary funds, President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday claimed his predecessor may have spent more than P1 trillion in her efforts to remain in power.
He also claimed that some of this money was possibly being used to destabilize his administration and even “sow violence and terror.”
Speaking before the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, Aquino also blamed the pork barrel scam on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and said he only inherited the problem.
He estimated that Arroyo, who is now second-term representative of Pampanga’s second district but remains detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City on plunder charges, may have misused between P836 billion to more than P1 trillion to fend off threats to her presidency brought about by a questionable mandate.
“Ang average annual budget sa halos sampung taon nilang pamamahala, nasa isang trilyon kada taon. Hindi po ba kasuklam-suklam ito – na maaaring katumbas ng isang buong budget ng pambansang gugulin natin ay napunta sa kamay nila, para gamitin kung saan nila gusto (The average annual budget for almost 10 years of their administration was about P1 trillion a year. Is this not disgusting – that the equivalent of a whole national budget would go to their hands, to be used in any way they wanted to)?” Aquino said.
Among others, he cited reports of lawmakers being bribed to defeat attempts to impeach her.
“Ulitin po natin: hindi bababa sa 836 billion pesos, at maaaring lagpas pa sa one trillion pesos. Gaano kalaki kaya ang nawala, ang ninakaw, ang pinaglaruan, ang ginamit sa transaksyon upang manatili sa kapangyarihan (Let us repeat: no less than P836 billion, and possibly more than P1 trillion. How much was lost, stolen, toyed with, used in transactions to remain in power)?” he asked.
“Kalabisan po bang maghinala na baka ang perang ito ay umiikot-ikot pa rin ngayon, ginagamit para bakbakan ang tiwala ninyo sa daang matuwid? Para maghasik ng gulo at lagim sa iba’t ibang paraan, at para kontrahin ang mismong situwasyong kinalalagyan natin ngayon: Kung saan tayo namang mga matagal nang nilapastangan, tayong mga naghahanap ng katarungan, ang uusig at magpapanagot sa mga nagkasala sa bayan (Is it too much to suspect that this money may still be in circulation today, used to erode your trust in the straight path? To spread violence and terror through different means, and to combat the situation we are in: Where we who have long been oppressed, we who seek justice, prosecute and make accountable those who sinned against the country)?” he asked.
Aquino also claimed at least P637.36 billion in public funds may have been misused through re-enacted budgets that allowed Arroyo to realign government savings for other purposes.
Since he assumed office in 2010, Aquino has often blamed the country’s problems on his predecessor, whose nine-year presidency was marked by corruption scandals and questions about the validity of her mandate, especially after the 2004 elections, which she was accused of stealing.
However, he made no mention of the controversial Disbursement Allocation Program, which Malacañang said he recently suspended along with the equally contentious Priority Development Assistance Fund, which the administration has now admitted consisted savings that were realigned to fund, among others, projects worth P30-100 million nominated by senators, and worth P10-15 million nominated by members of the House of Representatives.
Critics describe the DAP as no different than the PDAF, whose massive diversion into bogus nongovernmental organizations lies at the heart of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Malacañang spokespersons have defended the DAP as “constitutional.”
Aquino said despite what he called the attempts of some quarters to muddle the issues, he is certain the Filipino people remain behind his “tuwid na daan” (straight path) policy. (MNS)