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Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

President's 6pm. TV-radio broadcast tomorrow will seek to get him and Abad off the hook by citing DAP funds that went to helping our people, but this claim should be audited by independent auditors, not COA. If 9% of P170 billion DAP---or P15.3 billion---can't be accounted for, where did they go? Palace will make big thing of Cory's AO that Joker says they didn't make use of, as "there seemed something illegal about it." Yet P-Noy and Abad sought to justify DAP with this AO. Watch Toff de Venecia's premiere Asian production of musicale, "Dani Girl" at CPR Auditorium, RCBC Bldg.

Tomorrow evening, Monday, at 6 pm., the President of the Republic will appear before nationwide TV and radio to discuss various aspects of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in an attempt to get himself and his Budget Chief off the hook---after the Supreme Court had ruled DAP as unconstitutional. At least three groups have filed impeachment cases against P-NOy and many citizens and organizations have not let up on their call for DBM Secretary Butch Abad to resign, despite P-Noy's outright rejection of his resignation offer.  

Predictably, at tomorrow's broadcast P-Noy will enumerate the various projects which zapped up DAP funds, on the argument that, as he put it last Friday's Cabinet meeting, "...I cannot accept the notion that doing right by our people is wrong." He will insist that he did right in funding projects with DAP as they benefited the economy and lives of our people favorably. 

But many things are wrong about this assertion. 

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One is that there has been no outright and full disclosure just where the P170 billion DAP went, how much actually benefited the country and people and how much actually went to pockets of politicians---apart from the P24 billion the Palace used to bribe legislators in the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona. 

The Palace has argued that 91% of DAP's P170 billion from 2011-2012 really went to improving the economy, and that only 9% is UNACCOUNTED FOR. The 9%. however, means P15.3 billion missing---"not a paltry sum at all," which should be independently audited, not by COA but perhaps by PICPA, along with the rest of the P170 billion DAP. P-Noy would probably try to show where the 91 percent went---which is good, as Abad has stubbornly refused to show the list. Mukhang maraming tinatago.  

Moreover, if the 91% went to shoring up the economy, it should show. BUT THE STATISTICS ARE NOT ENCOURAGING. The World Bank, for instance,  stated that DAP only contributed 1.3 percentage points to the GDP. In 2012 the administration registered only a small improvement on the lack of good jobs---so that the poverty rate of 25.2 % in 2012 was only a very slight improvement over the 26.3% in 2009. PH still ranks behind most major Southeast Asian countries in terms of infrastructure. 

The reality is more like so much DAP funds were thrown into meaningless projects, such as funding congressmen and senators for their role in impeaching and convicting the CJ; funds for ARMM as well as for COA (which got P45B that went mostly into upgraded vehicles for officials), the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Cordillera, etc. Heartbreaking good money thrown after bad.

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As many thousands have demanded the resignation of Abad and the impeachment of P-Noy, Palace officials, desperately seeking a way out for them, are now making a big issue of the Administrative Order prepared by President Cory and her executive secretary then, Joker Arroyo, in 1987. Joker recently explained that the Palace did not use the AO at that time because of its QUESTIONABLE LEGALITY. 

Despite the SC ruling of DAP as unconstitutional, Abad and P-Noy not only used the funds but now have the temerity to assert that the Cory-era AO makes DAP LEGAL. 

A stung ex-Sen. Joker Arroyo thus labelled P-Noy as an "EVIL GENIUS." As experts point out, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and anything that does not conform to it is not valid. Now, if both chambers of Congress would pass a law that's contrary to the Constitution, then that law is invalid AB INITIO.

How much more a MERE AO!  If an AO can amend the Constitution, then there is no point in having a constitution at all!  An AO normally has many provisions, and thus, provisions which do not violate the Constitution are okay.  But those which violate or amend the Constitution ARE NOT and CANNOT BE VALID.

THUS THE THE SUPREME COURT CITED SOME VALID PROVISIONS OF THE AO.  BUT THE SC DID NOT BOTHER WITH INVALID PROVISIONS WHICH ABAD AND P-NOY ARE NOW CITING TO BOLSTER THEIR  LEGAL STAND ON DAP. 

Any lawyer worth his salt knows this. Fr Bernas knows this. Abad and P-Noy are scraping the bottom.

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It's indication that P-Noy has become a lame duck that names of certain politicians are being tossed around for the presidential race in 2016. One of them, although she has been around for just a year in the Senate,  is Sen. Grace Poe. Sen. Chiz Escudero was quoted a few days ago as wanting to run for President with possibly Grace Poe as his running-mate, or vice versa. 

The query of many right-thinking people at this time is, why would anyone AT THIS STAGE even consider Grace Poe for either of the two highest offices in the land? What has she done to merit this consideration---other than that she is the daughter of FPJ and she has name recall. Her pet bill, the FOI bill, has been through third reading in the Senate---which is a plus for her, considering that its counterpart bill in the House hasn't even moved beyond committee level. But other than this one bill, Grace Poe is still--- in the best practices of this mango-producing country---pahinugin pa. In fact, hilaw na hilaw pa. 

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The parade of names which are, according to past political practice, still woefully lacking in substance and experience, only indicates that we're back to square one---when the masa would vote because someone's mother died, or someone's father, a screen idol, was said to have been cheated of victory (this latter assumption has no basis at all). 

Enough of this crap---we've seen how disastrous it has been in the case of the candidate propelled by the mother's death which the country mourned. Let's base choice on MERITOCRACY, and the lack of it is the best motivation to shift to a parliamentary/unicameral system. 

To be sure, a parliamentary shift will not be a walk in the park, but at least, there is an even chance that choice of national leaders would be more circumspect as it would be from among peers. Moreover, as shown in the way we're still wrestling with DAP and PDAF after the SC has ruled them unconstitutional, had all the scandals that hit the P-Noy administration occurred in a parliamentary system, the government leader would have been booted out with a no-confidence vote.

 Here only two corrupt leaders were thrown out and it was not even an act of Congress for the second leader, but Divine Intervention (in the form of a white envelop that actually contained nothing) that did him in. . 

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Toff de Venecia

Joaquin Maria "Chino" Gutierrez

Hi FB and blog friends, If you recall, recently I wrote about a fine Filipino classical violinist named Joaquin Maria “Chino” Gutierrez, who’s making waves not just here but abroad. With the help of friends Chino was able to go back to his music studies in Munich, Germany which were interrupted twice owing to his family's lack of funds. But in addition, he was recently accepted to the very prestigious Keshet Eilon Intenational Summer Mastercourse in Israel---where the best and brightest violin, cello and viola students, rigorously selected from all over the world, will undergo a three-week training and tutoring from some of the most renowned masters in their field. The students will also be able to display their talents in solo recitals and in concert with these greatest names in the violin and other string instruments. 

Chino is the first Filipino to be accepted to this renowned Summer Mastercourse in Israel, established 25 years ago and said to be the launching pad for many great careers in the violin world.

Well, there’s another young man about Chino’s age who’s into theater production and direction, and evidently it’s our young people in the culture and arts field who'll do us proud as Filipinos. I’m talking about 23-year old Broadway World-nominated theater director/executive producer and Philippine Star columnist and writer Christopher “Toff” De Venecia, son of former Speaker Joe de Venecia and 4th District Representative of Pangasinan Gina de Venecia. Toff de Venecia has broken away from the political tradition of his family and ventured into the richly rewarding (in the true sense) field of culture and the arts.   

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Toff De Venecia founded the “Sandbox Collective,” a Manila-based performing arts company that’s dedicated to honing local talents in theater and developing Filipino audiences. For its maiden production---and Asian premiere and debut--- "Sandbox" has brought to Manila a critically acclaimed, inspiring Off-Broadway musicale that has shown in fringe festivals and regional theaters in Australia, Canada and the US, titled "Dani Girl."  


“Dani Girl," the first professional directorial stint of Toff de V., will stage a total of 15 shows which opened last July 10 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City, and will run until July 27, at 8:30 pm., same venue.

The musicale is about a nine-year old girl's heroic and inspiring battle with leukemia. Told from a child's perspective, the story revolves around the precocious Dani, "who embarks on a magical quest with her teddy-bear Mr. Fritz, her guardian angel Raph, and her film-obsessed hospital roommate Marty to win back her beloved hair and find the answer to the question, 'Why is cancer?' "

Dani's proceeds will go to the cancer unit of the PGH, thus combining two elements: a splendid musicale production and screenplay and a most worthy cause. For particulars, pls call 810-6093, 840-1607 and 887-4972. See you there.

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