MANILA (UPDATED) - President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday told the Ateneo Professional Schools community that lawmakers' now-abolished Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was not necessarily evil.
However, he refused to argue the merits of the PDAF. He simply compared it to a car that can be used to transport people and said it is bad if used to run over people.
Aquino was responding to a question on how the public can be assured that agencies who got the PDAF will not be strained in responding to the needs of lawmakers constituents who will now go to them.
"Hindi naman PDAF...PDAF does not necessarily become evil di ba. Like any tool, a car can be useful to transport you from here to there. If you're a mad man you run over people it can be bad. Pero huwag na nating debatihin yung PDAF or yung validity of it all. At the end of the day, iyung I really believe that there should be an interaction between the three branches of government," he said.
He stressed the need for public vigilance and the quality of politicians elected into office.
“I really think that the best check will be how the people treat the whole issue. Okay, balik tayo, wala kang pakialam e di yung di ba, when the cat is away, the mice will play.”
The Aquino administration is now defending the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) before the Supreme court. Critics have compared the DAP to pork barrel like the PDAF.
Aquino, in the same event, also took exception with a question that said that corruption remains rampant now.
He said that he himself has not been tagged in any corruption.
“Mahirap naman yata nating sabihin yung 'very rampant.' I am practically four years into the job. I have not been accused, let alone di ba... Wala naman intrigue na I am into corruption; and it starts from the top eh. If the top is corrupt, then everybody will have a justification to be corrupt," he said. "Okay, if the youth do not participate in trying to change society and you would be the inheritors of this society, did you by non-participation guarantee that that which is wrong continues? Hindi ba, iyong tutol hindi sumali eh o di lahat ng natira sumang-ayon. Tuloy ang ligaya ng iilan, kakawa yung nakakarami. “
In a speech earlier in the event, Aquino also slammed the Supreme Court in 2010 for allowing the installation of Chief Justice Renato Corona despite a ban on so-called "midnight appointments." Aquino feels it may have been a manipulation of the Constitution.
“Tanong po ngayon: may controversy ba talaga? Pag-upo ng susunod na pangulo, noong ito po ay 2010, may 45 na araw natitira, o kalahati ng itinakdang panahon ng Saligang Batas para maglagay ng kapalit ng atin pong Chief Justice. Ngayon ho, mayroon doon sa Article 7, on the Chief Executive, Section 15, na nagsasabing hindi maaring magtalaga sa anumang posisyon dalawang buwan bago ang eleksyong pampangulo, at, ‘yon nga po, sa Article 8 Section 4 naman, which talks of the Judiciary, nagsasabing kailangang magtalaga ng punong Mahistrado sa Korte Suprema? Interpretasyon po ba ito o tahasang pagbabago ng Korte Suprema sa Konstitusyon? Kayo na po ang bahalang magpasya.”
Aquino also called on Ateneans not to forget that there are some of them who did not use their talent for “daang matuwid.”
“Magaling ang mga Atenista, at natutuwa ako na marami sa kanila ang katuwang natin sa paglilingkod sa mamamayang Pilipino. Subalit hindi rin naman natin dapat kalimutang may mga Atenistang hindi sa matuwid ginagamit ang kanilang liwanag.“
He didn’t mention any name but later on in the speech pointed out how the Supreme Court allowed Corona's appointment.
Aquino arrived late for the event, explaining he wasn’t happy with the speech prepared by his staff that he had to revise 4 times.
He said it wasn't as bad as his State of the Nation Address which he said was revised 9 times.
Aquino also appeared to take a swipe at Charter change, saying he and his fellow students didn’t memorize the Constitution when they were studying because it seemed pointless if it can be amended by a dictator.
Aquno was a student during Martial Law, when then President Ferdinand Marcos amended the 1973 Constitution.
He also said that to be a good leader, one doesn’t just need smarts or experience but a clear understanding of what is right and wrong.
Aquino also said he is not perfect and he needs the help of others to solve problems brought to his attention.
“Ako, bilang pangulo, inaamin kong hindi po ako perpekto sa lahat ng bagay sa lahat ng panahon. Malinaw rin sa akin na may mga bagay na hindi ko masosolusyunan o mapagdedesisyunan kung walang tulong ng iba. “