By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
Oct. 30, 2013
MANILA – For the first time, President Aquino addressed the nation in a primetime broadcast to again defend the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and to lash back at his critics for turning the tables against him.
Aquino vowed to run after and prosecute those who have misused public funds, saying they have muddled the issue to confuse the public with what he called as lies.
“Kung sa tingin ninyo, titigil ako sa pag-usig; kung sa tingin ninyo, maililihis ninyo ang atensyon ng publiko; kung sa tingin ninyo, makakatakas kayo sa pagnanakaw; nagkakamali kayo ng tantya sa akin, at sa taumbayang Pilipino,” Aquino said.
Aquino came out to address the nation in an unprecedented primetime broadcast after the pork barrel scandal pulled down his satisfaction ratings in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
A Pulse Asia survey, however, showed his approval ratings going up.
Aquino emphasized he did not steal public funds, wondering why he and his administration has been placed at the receiving end of criticisms since the most recent pork barrel scam broke out.
“Uulitin ko po: Pagnanakaw ang isyu dito. Hindi ako nagnakaw. Pero ang mga diumano’y nagnakaw ay siyang nagpapasimuno ng kalituhan; gustong kaladkarin pababa ang lahat ng ating pinaghirapang maabot dito sa tuwid na daan. Tayo ang ninakawan, tayo ang niloko, tapos tayo pa ngayon ang pinagpapaliwanag. Tayo ang patuloy na naghahanap ng katotohanan, tayo ang nagbawas nang nagbawas sa mga mekanismong maaaring gamitin para abusuhin ang kapangyarihan― tapos, tayo pa ngayon ang pinaparatangang ‘Pork Barrel King,'” he said.
Aquino took a swipe at politicians who have been accused of misusing the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), saying they have not adequately explained and address accusations against them.
He said they have not categorically denied stealing from the public coffers.
“Sa sobrang hirap nga pong ipaliwanag, tila sinunod na lamang nila ang payo ng isang matandang pulitiko sa kanilang kampo: Kung hindi mo kayang ipaliwanag, palabuin mo na lang lahat; kung hindi mo kayang bumango, pabahuin mo na lang lahat; kung hindi mo kayang gumuwapo, papangitin mo na lang lahat. Narinig naman ninyo ang hirit nila: Pare-pareho lang naman daw kaming lahat,” he said.
“Ang tugon ko po diyan: Hindi tayo pareho. Hindi kami nagnakaw, at hindi kami magnanakaw; kami ang umuusig sa magnanakaw.”
DEFENDING DAP ANEW
Aquino again justified his administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), saying it is not pork barrel nor a form of stealing.
But Aquino admitted lawmakers were allowed to nominate projects, saying nine percent of DAP funds released in 2011 to 2012 went to projects proposed by legislators.
He added, however, that DAP projects have brought benefits to the people.
He cited projects such as Project NOAH, TESDA’s Training-for-Work Scholarship Program, building classrooms, hospitals, and roads, among others.
He said he is authorized by the Constitution to use government savings and allot funds for faster-moving projects.
“Ang pagnanakaw, ilegal; ang paggastos gamit ang DAP, malinaw na nakasaad sa Konstitusyon at sa iba pang mga batas,” he said.
He said the program was meant to boost public spending, saying that it has been credited as a contributor to GDP growth.
“Ang pag-angat na ito, at ang tinatamasang benepisyo ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na ng mga nasa laylayan ng lipunan– ito po ang bunga ng tamang paggastos, sa halip na pagnanakaw. Ang perang dating kino-corrupt, napakinabangan na ng taumbayan, lalo na ng mahihirap,” he said.
PRESIDENT’S SOCIAL FUND
Aquino again defended his use of the President’s Social Fund (PSF), saying it has been put to good use.
He said the PSF was tapped to help families of military and police personnel killed in action and also victims of calamities.
“Dahil noong araw, inabuso ang pondong ito, baka raw abusuhin namin ito ngayon– kahit walang paratang ng pagnanakaw o kamalian ng paggamit. Ang mungkahi ng ilan, tanggalin na lang. Makatuwiran po ba ito? Maganda po sana kung ganoong kasimple, pero paano po kung magkaroon ng sakuna?”
In conclusion, Aquino urged the public to sift through the noise and differentiate the truth from lies.