ACCORDING to a report from, President Benigno S. Aquino III’s speech on Wednesday left “more questions than answers,” when it was intended to provide “clarity and focus” on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the pork barrel system instead.
The president’s televised speech centered on denying that he was “a thief,” “when observers agreed that he was not accused of being one in the first place,” reported further.
In his public address, Aquino insisted that the DAP was “not pork barrel,” yet admitted that “9 percent” of total DAP disbursements in 2011-2012 involved lawmakers, who were given the privilege to nominate projects, not unlike the system implemented for the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF, more popularly known as the pork barrel.)
Nine percent of the DAP amounts to P12.8 billion, which is allotted for projects of their choice.
However, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio B. Coloma insists that the DAP savings coursed through legislators is not pork barrel.
“How could they be the same when the manner of implementation is not exactly the same?” he said, reasoning that the legislators’ “involvement  [in the DAP] was on the aspect of nominating or identifying projects that are amenable to disbursement acceleration,” while in the PDAF, “they not only ‘identified’ projects but also had ‘specific involvement in the ‘follow through’ of those projects.’”
The Aquino administration “will proceed with caution, taking into account the ongoing judicial processes,” Coloma said further, adding that the government will continue with its efforts in discussing not just the DAP, but “all of the important reform programs of the administration.”
Aquino’s speech did not sit well with the House minority bloc.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said that Aquino  “blew all his chances to salvage his waning popularity and performance ratings.”
“It was very disappointing that President Aquino failed to address the main concern that we have been talking about, which is the abuse of his presidential prerogative in the disbursement of lump sum and other discretionary funds,” Romualdez said, adding that  “it would have been better had the President made an admission about the shortcomings of his government in the judicious use of public funds,” adding “the real issues are about the constitutionality and transparency in the use of public funds.”
According to Romualdez, Aquino’s speech would further push the public to demand for the total abolition of the PDAF, as well as the president’s own pork barrel — the President’s Social Fund.
“I’m very disappointed, the people have been expecting him to deliver a dramatic speech against the pork barrel system. He should have listened to the clamor of the people to abolish the pork barrel and should stop defending DAP whose constitutionality is pending before the Supreme Court,” Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said.
While PNoy may have good intentions in delivering his speech, admittedly, it created more confusion than clarification for many.
What columnist Oscar Franklin Tan said makes a lot of sense:  “While the majority are clearly with him, they are beginning to understand that the issue goes far beyond him.The fact that we believe that PNoy has not stolen is  precisely why it is so important to ponder our institutions during his term.”
With transparency and accountability as the foundations of PNoy’s “Daang Matuwid,” and the Filipino people as his “bosses,” less talk, more listening and more action are required and expected from his administration.

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