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“We know where your family lives” – Popular gangster saying
Legal minds are opining the Administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) has no basis in law and some Cabinet members and even the President possibly violated Art. VI Sec. 25 (5) of the Constitution for misallocating funds. The Palace has admitted to some miscues.
The President is popular and controls the Legislature so he will not be impeached even if the allegations have basis. Nonetheless, that the scenario is even being bandied -albeit it lightly- indicates how politically charged is the atmosphere.
The President’s men, the Budget Secretary in particular, are not as secure. They could be liable for criminal or administrative proceedings which, I imagine, will be filed by the ever mindful Opposition once the ammunition is in place. Already there is apprehension and finger pointing among Cabinet heads. Budget Sec. Abad has declared the monitoring of the PDAF is the responsibility of the implementing agencies, not his office. That is the first sign of a house divided.
The Dept. of Justice and the Ombudsman could delay prosecution but they would be hard-pressed to ignore the accusations if indeed weighty. It would undermine their work, credibility and moral standing in the plunder cases filed and to be filed before them.
An attack on the President’s people would distract the Administration from running Government and tending to the economy. The latest numbers confirm the unemployment situation continues to deteriorate.
A protracted conflict could weaken the President by diverting his focus and depleting his political capital thereby diminishing his endorsement value in the next elections. He himself could be vulnerable to legal proceedings after he steps down. This is not the overhang he or this country wants going into 2016 when the President needs to be strongest.
The fact is the President’s men got sloppy. This happens when your leader’s popularity is at 70%, when the world sings your praises and you think you can do no wrong. You start to believe your own press and disregard cautionary tales from your supporters.
A case in point is the pork barrel. Despite near universal objection to the program, Malacanang continues to defend it for reasons that do not make any political, economic or common sense. Is it bull-headedness, conviction, hubris or something more sinister? PDAF is politically and possibly legally dead so why not get ahead of the curve by permanently defanging it? The Palace has eliminated the PDAF in name but has not given up on the notion that select legislators can still request for funding of pet projects in exchange presumably for their vote. So the Million People March continues.
Ironically the marchers have been the President’s strongest supporters, the people who got him where he is. The President has ignored them. He met with Mrs. Napoles, escorted her to the PNP headquarters, yet has not even offered to dialogue with the marchers, his so-called Bosses.
That could be a mistake. If the DAP proves to be as legally toxic for the President’s men as many fear, their only salvation will be the court of public opinion and right now the public is feeling shunned. A loyal leader, the President will back his men to the hilt but he risks going down with them. As the airlines say, when the plane is in trouble don your oxygen masks first before you don your children’s.
Here lies the tragedy. We and the President are joined at the hip, we derive our strength from each other, we need to be one going into 2016. Yet we are divided by an issue –pork- that is, on the face of it, petty. It is not ideological, it is administrative; it is not about values, it is about mechanics. There are many ways to support the scholars and schools the President is concerned about without tempting the avarice of lawmakers. We are quarreling with each other when we should be running the bad guys out of town.
In a karmic way, pork may have returned to bite the Palace. It is not that the President’s men bungled the PDAF and the DAP – people, even good people, make mistakes – but this time they may have to pay for it. With the plunder charges filed against some leaders of the Opposition a war has been declared and it is to the death and not just politically. Opposition lives are literally at stake and, like wounded tigers, unless they are put away or released, they will pounce upon any chink in the Administration’s armor.
There is now a chink and lawyers say it is the DAP. If the Opposition cannot bring down the President, they will take down his official family –that is how the Mob operates- and even he may be helpless to save them. Their only recourse is the weight of public opinion but for this the President really must get the nation behind him. He needs to win back his constituents because right now they are sulking.