Joker Arroyo: Aquino less lucky with aides | Inquirer News

Joker Arroyo: Aquino less lucky with aides

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 02:33 AM November 04, 2013

Former Senator Joker Arroyo FILE PHOTO

A lot has changed since Cory Aquino’s time.

While former President Corazon C. Aquino’s men took the bullets for her, her son—President Aquino—is less fortunate, retired Sen. Joker Arroyo said on Sunday.


Arroyo recalled that Cory Aquino’s senior officers—Rene Saguisag, Fulgencio “Jun” Factoran Jr., Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin and Mariano “Dodo” Sarmiento—were quick to defend her every time she was criticized.

And they were no ordinary President’s men: They were Harvard graduates and bar topnotchers, according to Arroyo, Cory Aquino’s first executive secretary.


“Whenever President Cory was attacked by her detractors, her senior officers—Rene Saguisag, Jun Factoran, Teddy Boy Locsin and Dodo Sarmiento—all Harvard graduates and bar topnotchers, took the bullets for [her] and circled their wagons around her to protect her,” he said.

In contrast, Mr. Aquino is fighting all alone criticism of his administration over the pork barrel and charges that he rewarded 20 senators with millions of pesos in additional pork for voting to convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona of betrayal of public trust after an impeachment trial last year.

Weak team

And nowhere has the weakness of the President’s men been so starkly shown than in the pork barrel scandal that has been roiling the government and Congress since July, especially after the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) came to light and got challenged in the Supreme Court.

“Now that President Noynoy is under siege, his officers also rushed [forward, but positioned] themselves behind the President for him to take the bullets for them,” he said.

And with them nowhere to be seen, the President addressed the nation on television on Wednesday night, but his speechwriter ruined it for him, Arroyo said.

Incalculable disservice


“The President’s speechwriter did him incalculable disservice with [that] ‘I am not a thief’ [line]. That was a nonissue, as nobody [has] accused him of [stealing]. It only dragged the President to the level of his subalterns’ transgressions,” Arroyo said.

In his speech, Mr. Aquino accused his critics of “muddling the issue” to undermine his administration.

Mr. Aquino lamented that while he was haling the people behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam into court, he was being taken to task for the DAP and being called “pork barrel king.”

Trying to explain the distinction between the DAP and the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Mr. Aquino said the DAP was not a pork barrel.

But Mr. Aquino admitted that only 9 percent of disbursements from the DAP in 2011 and 2012 went to projects recommended by lawmakers.

The PDAF, being a spending program that channels funds to congressional districts, is a pork barrel. The little-known DAP is a temporary holding program for unused development funds.

Nixon’s line

But Mr. Aquino failed to make that clear. Instead, he said: “The issue here is theft. I am not a thief.”

The thief line is a reworking of Richard Nixon’s statement to the American press, “I’m not a crook,” at the height of the Watergate scandal in November 1973.

Malacañang has not commented on criticisms about the unoriginality of the irrelevant line in Mr. Aquino’s speech.

Arroyo, who has also raised questions about the DAP, suggested that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had only itself to blame for the controversy.

“The DAP has no paternity; it is the illegitimate spawn of the DBM’s misadventures,” he said.

Deodorizing the DAP

Arroyo earlier protested an attempt by the administration to “deodorize” the DAP by naming him as one the recipients in the Senate.

He explained that what he requested was funding for projects from regular items in the General Appropriations Act, not from the DAP.

The DAP came to light after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, pinpointed by the Commission on Audit as one of the lawmakers involved in the pork barrel scam, disclosed in a privilege speech in late September the release of P50 million to finance projects endorsed by the 20 senators who voted for the conviction of Corona.

Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Arroyo voted to acquit Corona and got nothing.

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Originally posted: 10:23 pm | Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

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