A week before his fifth State of the Nation Address, a broad array of anti-pork barrel advocates has filed an impeachment complaint against President Benigno Aquino III. The 28 complainants are seeking Aquino’s removal from office, accusing him of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust arising from his implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
“Complainants accuse President Aquino of culpably violating the Constitution by usurping Congress’ power of the purse and undermining the principles of separation of powers and system of checks and balances. They likewise accuse the President of betraying the public trust by exacerbating the corrupt pork barrel system, committing tyrannical abuse of his powers, violating his oath of office, and perpetrating multiple counts of technical malversation and corruption of public officials.”
“For this, he must be held to account so that lessons must be learned. For this he must be impeached,” read the Prefatory of the impeachment complaint that was endorsed by Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate and Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap.
The complainants include persons who earlier questioned the DAP before the Supreme Court, as well as anti-pork advocates that figured in last year’s Million People March and succeeding actions. Religious leaders, members of the academe, corruption whistleblowers and various sectoral leaders also signed the complaint.
They are Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Secretary-General Renato M. Reyes, Jr.; Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) President Ferdinand Gaite,; Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Founding Chairman/President Dante Jimenez, Atty. Jose Malvar Villegas Jr., President of Citizens Crime Watch; all of whom were petitioners versus the DAP before the Supreme Court.
Other complainants include retired Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz; Bishop Emergencio D. Padillo of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP); Bishop Joselito T. Cruz of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI); former Gabriela representative Liza L. Maza; UP Prof. Judy M. Taguiwalo; musician Monet Silvestre; Fr. Benjamin Alforque, MSC of the Church People’s Alliance Against Pork Barrel Convenor; Marie Sol S. Villalon of the Promotion for Church People’s Response (PCPR); Sandra Cam, President of the Whistleblowers Association; Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Chairperson Rafael V. Mariano; Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairperson Elmer C. Labog; Migrante International (MIGRANTE) Chairperson Garry Martinez;UP Prof. Danilo A. Arao, Associate Dean, College of Mass Communications and Robert T. Mendoza, RX Pork Convenor;
Known leaders of the Scrap Pork Network such as artist Mae P. Paner or Juana Change, Inday Varona; Noemi Lardizabal-Dado and Deng Silorio also signed the complaint. They were joined by Lolita T. Donato, Alerto Mamimili Convenor; Gloria G. Arellano, Chairperson, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY); Maria Aurora Santiago, Joan Mae Salvador, Secretary-General of GABRIELA, Vencer Mari Crisostomo, Anakbayan chairperson and Concepcion E. Empeno, Chairperson of Desaparecidos and mother of missing UP activist Karen Empeno.
“The Disbursement Acceleration Program turned the General Appropriations Act into one man’s pork barrel. By virtue of his unchecked exercise of discretion, he juggled funds from one program to another, or in the case of DAP, to projects based on his mere whim,” the complaint said.
The complainants believe that DAP further exacerbated the corruption in the pork barrel system by giving additional pork to lawmakers and local officials, in exchange for their support for the Aquino administration.
“Sa pamamagitan ng DAP, pinasahol pa ni Aquino ang korap na sistemang pork barrel sa bansa, salungat sa pangako niya “daang matuwid.”
“The President says DAP is a stimulus program done in good faith. This is belied by the list of DAP projects, most of which have nothing to do with stimulating the economy save for increasing government expenditures,” the Complainants said.
The complainants averred that DAP allowed Aquino to give lawmakers some P17.3 billion in extra pork through lump-sum items known as “other various local projects”. Other DAP expenditures were also lump-sum discretionary spending such as additional pork for local officials in the form of “support for LGUs” and various local infrastructure projects.
They said that to enlarge the presidential pork, Aquino withheld funding for so-called “slow-moving projects” and took control of the savings of agencies that were previously used for personel development. The benefits of ordinary teachers and other government employees suffered because the so-called “savings” were being centralized to fatten the presidential pork.
In a related development, reports reveal that nearly 900 Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) of the more than 1,000 total DAP SAROs were given to lawmakers. This bolsters the complainants allegations that DAP truly intended to function as presidential pork.