Opposition sees Aquino speech to nation as damage control
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III is in damage-control mode with his expected address to the nation to discuss the controversy involving the pork barrel and his administration’s controversial disbursement acceleration program, according to an opposition lawmaker.
But unless he stops defending these systems and starts instituting genuine reforms, he could expect his credibility among Filipinos to continue to drop, said ACT Teachers’ party list Rep. Antonio Tinio.
Tinio said the President’s speech was clearly meant to manage the “fallout” from the issues, which has resulted in lower approval ratings for the Chief Executive.
Though he has not been implicated in any plunder of public funds, the President has also suffered from the fallout from the controversy, which arose from reports that lawmakers’ pork barrel went to bogus non-governmental organizations, and later to private pockets.
A palace spokesperson earlier said the increase in the number of people dissatisfied with the Chief Executive reflected the people’s anger at the theft of public funds.
The subsequent issue about DAP funds being made available to lawmakers also gave rise to another tempest, with some critics alleging that this could have been used by the administration as a bribe or to cultivate lawmakers’ favor.
“What P-Noy should realize is that his ratings are down because of his stubborn defense of PDAF, DAP and the underlying system of patronage politics,” Tinio said in a text message.
“Unless he makes an about-face and genuinely pushes for abolition of the pork barrel system, his credibility with the public will continue to fall, and his ratings along with it,” he added.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said he hopes Mr. Aquino would scrap the President’s own pork barrel in the 2014 budget. He could do this by declaring he would itemize at least P930 billion worth of the lump sum funds under his control.
“No amount of PR can deodorize pork,” Colmenares said.
He added that the President has to come to terms with the fact that he’s the last man standing defending the pork barrel system.
Without substantial and significant changes to the system, he said the rallies would continue. The proposed people’s initiative to truly abolish the pork barrel could also prosper, he added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.