Aquino, Abad and cohorts accountable
The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today welcomed the latest Supreme Court ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) saying the “decision affirmed the modus employed by President Aquino, budget secretary Florencio ‘Butch’ Abad, and agrarian reform secretary Virgilo Delos Reyes on the agrarian reform funds used to compensate the Cojuangco family for Hacienda Luisita.
The February 3 Supreme Court ruling reiterated the unconstitutionality of the “the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year and without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).”
“This is the exact modus employed by Aquino, Abad, and Delos Reyes on the P5.4 billion DAR funds used to compensate big landlords and agribusinesses like the Cojuangco-Aquinos,” says KMP chair Rafael Mariano.
Mariano recalled that Delos Reyes and DAR Undersecretary Anthony Parungao chorus that the funds for landowners compensation was appropriated and allotted under the 2010 and 2011 General Appropriation Act; with the actual cash release of a portion of the amount was merely facilitated through the DAP.
“The latest SC ruling declaring as DAP unconstititional strengthens the fact that Aquino has withdrawn DAR funds allocated for 2010 and 2011, declared it as DAP, and plundered the funds under the guise of landowner compensation for his relatives, the Cojuangco-Aquinos, who received P471.5 million from DAP funds,” Mariano added.
“Worst,” Mariano said, “the Cojuangco-Aquinos plunder of almost half a billion of DAR funds is further aggravated by the fact that Hacienda Luisita remains undistributed and is still controlled by the Cojuangcos.”
He added that “the SC ruling on the DAP will only have teeth if President Benigno Aquino III, DBM secretary Butch Abad and others who have orchestrated DAP and misused public funds under the program will be made accountable and accorded appropriate punishment.”
“We must remember that Aquino and Abad used DAP as a ‘creative’ plunderous scheme of embargoing and not releasing funds of various agencies and pooling it into one big discretionary fund of the President,” says Mariano.
“Farmers have all the more reasons to demand Aquino’s ouster for plundering multibillion pesos in public fund and converting the national budget as presidential pork barrel.”
Through DAP, DAR released to Landbank the amount of P5.432 billion from the P7.932 billion appropriation for Landowners Compensation for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.
In 2014, DAR secretary delos Reyes admitted that “from 2011 to June 2014, Landbank disbursed PhP4.052 billion representing the cash portion of Landowners Compensation to the landowners of Apo Fruits Corp./Hijo Plantation and of Hacienda Luisita.” #