Whistle-blowers’ group backs Aquino
MANILA, Philippines–The whistle-blowers who exposed some of the biggest scandals in the previous Arroyo administration are making their voices heard again, this time in support of President Aquino.
Members of the Whistle-blowers Association of the Philippines Inc. have issued a statement expressing their support for Aquino as his administration faces growing opposition over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a budgetary scheme to impound ostensible savings into an economic stimulus program which the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional last July 1.
Four of the seven members of the whistle-blowers group—Jose Barredo Jr., Vidal Doble Jr., Noel Baviera and Dante Madriaga—reached an agreement to come out with a statement of support for Aquino, who is threatened with several impeachment complaints over DAP.
“The Whistle-blowers Association had a meeting last Thursday, July 24, 2014, and the following members (Barredo, Doble, Baviera and Madriaga) support the President, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, and his policies and governance,” read the one-sentence signed statement.
The group said that while it believes that the Supreme Court decision must be respected and followed, the DAP controversy was not sufficient grounds to remove the President.
“We didn’t see that the President stole anything. We are whistle-blowers. We are the ones who expose anomalies. But this time, we don’t see any wrongdoing on the part of the President,” Barredo said in a phone interview.
“I don’t see any anomaly. The President is just doing what is right. No money was stolen or pocketed. The President’s intention is to use the money properly,” he said.
Doble supported this view, saying the administration still showed transparency in disbursing DAP funds.
“President Noynoy is just doing this in good faith. That’s my basis (for supporting him). Unlike during the time of Gloria [Arroyo], what she and her accomplices did was illegal… like the NBN-ZTE deal and the fertilizer fund scam,” Doble said.
Madriaga, meanwhile, saw no basis to oust Aquino.
“We believe that the President is doing what’s best for the country and we feel that he has done nothing wrong, that what he is doing is for the people. Now, the Supreme Court is the law of the land and we have to follow that, but for me, there is no ground to impeach the President,” he said.
Baviera found DAP’s cross-border fund transfer disagreeable but said such a lapse on Aquino’s part would not make him support an impeachment case.
“As a whistle-blower, I don’t think he is culpable for any violation. Maybe [it was] just a lapse in judgment, perhaps because he was eager to do something,” said Baviera.
The four who signed the statement are among the “most active” members and officers of the small witnesses’ group according to Barredo.
A fifth participant at the meeting, George Rabusa, a witness on funds misuse in the military, did not join the consensus for reasons he could not publicly disclose, said Baviera.
Absent at the Thursday meeting were the group’s president Sandra Cam, who is among 28 signatories in the impeachement case filed against Aquino on July 21, and lawyer Mel Magdamo, who exposed the overpricing of ballot secrecy folders for the 2010 elections.
Saying the group’s members all had their own opinion about current affairs, Barredo said he and his fellow members decided it was time for “the majority” of the group to say their piece. Registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the group was founded in 2008 as a support group for scam witnesses and to advocate for truth and accountability in government.