Philippines President Faces Impeachment over Corruption Allegations

The Supreme Court ruled on July 1 that it is unconstitutional as the money was not approved by the congress.

INDONESIA

Senin, 15 Sep 2014 16:04 WIB

Author

Jofelle P. Tesorio

Philippines President Faces Impeachment over Corruption Allegations

Philippines, president, impeachment, program, Jofelle Tesorio

Philippine President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III won on an anti-corruption platform in 2010. Four years later, some are calling for his impeachment for what they see as systemic corruption and patronage politics.

President Aquino aggressively defended his spending programs in a live televised speech on prime time TV.

He insists the program is legal and has stimulated economic growth.

“The truth is, it is not me that they are against. It’s the Filipino people who benefit from the right and straight path. They are against students who now do not need to share overcrowded classrooms; against students who are trained by government facilities; against evacuees who are saved because of improved early warning systems; against informal settlers who are taken from harm’s way because of housing programs; against poor people who can now have access to free services from government hospitals.”

Aquino claims the spending program called the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP has helped 2.5 million Filipinos get out of poverty in last year alone.

The 4 billion US dollar program was created shortly after Aquino took office. It allowed the President to transfer funds from different agencies and branches of the government into other projects. 

The the Supreme Court ruled on July 1 that it is unconstitutional… because by law the funds should be approved by the congress.  

Presidents Aquino says they will appeal.

“We will appeal the decision of the court. And my message to the Supreme Court, we don’t want to reach a point where the two equal branches of government collide where a third branch has to step in…It’s very difficult to understand your decision.”

Aquino’s popularity is at an all-time low.

Three impeachment complaints have been filed against the president. The first two are for his spending program while the third is over a defense agreement he signed with the United States. 

They have been filed by leftist lawmakers who accuse Aquino of betraying the public trust.

Inday Espina-Varona, a blogger and journalist signed the impeachment complaint because she believes the money went to corrupt government officials.

“Legislators were given huge sums over and above their legislated pork barrel and if there’s anything that’s clearly unconstitutional about the DAP, that one is probably in black and white.”

But she admits that it’s unlikely that Aquino will be impeached over the matter.

What she wants is to put pressure on him to answer questions about where the money has gone.

“How many impeachment cases were filed against former president Arroyo and none of them prospered either but as the House Minority leader said today, it is the legally mandated venue by the constitution—impeachment—if that’s the only way where people can raise questions, specific questions, about the conduct of the president.”

The opposition is preparing a corruption cases against the budget secretary and other cabinet members.

And the Philippine Senate has started its own investigation. Among those who were questioned were budget secretary Butch Abad.

He took the senate that their new approach to spending has been for the good of the people.

“The Philippines did not become one of Asia’s best performing economies by playing it safe. We did not become the pioneers of global transparency and openness by playing it safe. We did all these through boldness and single-minded pursuit of innovation and reform under the leadership of President Aquino.”

Rodelia Apolinario, a single parent with four children under 13 says she has benefited from President Aquino’s spending program.

She lives off 50 US dollars a month and says for the first time she received cash from the government through a program called 4-Ps.

“Some social welfare officers interviewed me. Upon knowing my dire situation, they called me up and told me to attend a meeting to become a member of 4-Ps. After two months, I received a cheque. The money is meant for my children’s health and education.”

Rodelia now gets around 60 US dollars a month from the government for her three school-going children. If the children miss going to school, the benefits are reduced.

“The government’s cash-transfer scheme has really helped me a lot. We no longer have to think about how we will pay the school fees. Once we get the assistance, we immediately pay the school. So many people have been helped by this program.” 

She hopes the program will continue.

But many others like the urban poor in Manila who have been moved from flood areas by the government say they have no received the money they were promised. 





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