MANILA -- (UPDATED) The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) believes the address of President Benigno Aquino III last Wednesday was a desperate act meant to preempt the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter.
UNA Secretary General Toby Tiangco believes Aquino’s unprecedented speech was addressed not to the people, but to a select audience - the Justices of Supreme Court.
He said the Palace did not intend to appease an angry mob. Had this been the case, the president should have given up his own pork barrel and moved for the abolition of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
"It was obviously a desperate move to call the attention of the Supreme Court to contemplate on the supposed benefits of DAP. The President is aware that an SC decision against DAP will have a damaging impact on his Administration, and will expose the hypocrisy of his administration," Tiangco said.
He said the Palace is aware that an unfavorable decision from the high court will have a negative effect on the administration.
"He was actually subtly exerting pressure on the Supreme Court that is why he went out of his way to sound rational and reasonable on primetime TV. But unfortunately it was not a masterful job in laying the predicate to appeal for a constitutional blunder that is DAP," Tiangco noted.
Tianco hopes that the Supreme Court will never forget how the DAP was used to influence another branch of government during the impeachment and eventual ouster of one of its members, former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
He also believes that the high court should not ignore the attempt of the administration to control the Constitutional Fiscal Autonomy (CFAG) Group - composed of the Judiciary, the Commission on Audit (COA), the Office of the Ombudsman, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) - by putting special provisions in the budget.
These provisions go against the fiscal autonomies of these offices, he said.
"The Supreme Court is the last bastion of democracy-it is the guardian of the Constitution and the Rule of Law. Malacanang may have control over the legislature but the SC would never allow itself to be subservient to the whims of the Executive Branch. The SC should stand their ground, otherwise, mawawalan ng saysay ang demokrasya," Tiangco said.
"We hope and trust that the SC will not reverse themselves in the ruling they made in Demetria vs Alba, wherein the same mechanism used in DAP was already declared unconstitutional," he added.
Binay urges Palace to wait for SC ruling
Senator Nancy Binay, in a separate statement, said it is better for the Palace to wait for the final ruling of the SC on the DAP.
"The case is already pending in the Supreme Court. It is prudent for all of us to just wait for the final decision of the High Tribunal," Binay said.
The senator also believes that it is better for the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to explain the benefits and other facts of the DAP in a proper forum.
Binay was referring to a resolution filed by Senator JV Ejercito last month. The latter sought an inquiry into the DAP facility.
"Since we are very keen in checking every detail on how our government is using its funds, it is just as important that we look into where the funding for DAP was sourced and how it was spent o paano ito maaaring abusuhin," she said.
Despite the President's explanation on the DAP, Binay believes Malacanang still has a lot of explaining to do, such as why particular projects needed to be accelerated and prioritized.
The senator also added that the Senate inquiry would be different from the Supreme Court hearing, as the Senate is after more information on the program's structure.
The SC earlier deferred the issuance of a stay order on the DAP. Instead, it decided to hold oral arguments on several petitions filed on November 11.