MANILA, Philippines - Allies of former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo criticized Malacañang for virtually claiming credit over economic numbers that may have been the product of the last few months of the previous administration in power.
House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said the Aquino administration's current economic growth figures were for the full year of 2010, the first 6 months of which was still under President Arroyo.
He said Aquino may just be the beneficiary of Arroyo's economic policies.
Aquino earlier said the Philippine economy grew 7.6% in 2010, which is the fastest expansion for the economy since democracy was restored to the country in 1986. The government said when releasing the initial data in January that one main reason for the record performance -- coming off growth of 0.9 percent in 2009 -- was the rest of the world recovering from the global financial crisis.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minority Leader Danilo Suarez twitted the National Food Authority for blaming its losses on the previous administration. Suarez said the NFA has always posted losses because its main goal is to help the poor and keep prices low.
"Why blame the rice issue on previous administration? Ang tanong - mura ba bigas under the previous administration? Answer is yes, kasi nga losses. Give credit to previous administration. We were never put as a country with food insecurity," Suarez said.
Lagman said the NFA was organized to subsidize the supply of rice. "It's not supposed to be engaged in profit. All these years, invariably this agency will lose money," he said.
The team that audited the NFA said the agency incurred billions of pesos in losses from its rice importation from 2008-2010.
The team cited irregularities including fictitious bidders, rice trader cartels, questionable rebates and refunds, wrong timing of NFA imports amounting to 2.2 million metric tons of rice and over-importation.
Conditional cash transfer
After the NFA issue, the Arroyo allies dealt with the Aquino administration's handling of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program that began under Arroyo.
A progress report from the Department of Social Welfare and Development presented to the appropriations committee showed that the CCT is set to cover a total of 2.339 million households for 2011, of which 1.9 million have been registered. Some 1.4 million households are expected to be funded by May 31.
Latest figures show some P23.3 billion has been allotted for the CCT for 2011, when the original budget was only at over P21 billion.
"After [the General Appropriations Act] is enacted and signed, I don't think any official or agency of the government can augment their budget. Possibly at end of year there could be augmentation from savings but that's end of year, not at early part of year. We have to seek explanation why the amount ballooned. It's possible we misread figures," Lagman said.