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To my beloved countrymen, my bosses.

I asked for this opportunity to speak to you today, to explain a few points reg
arding the Supreme Court decision on DAP.
First of all: What was the situation when we came in?
When we assumed office last June 2010, the 2010 budget was still in effect, and
we likewise inherited the proposed 2011 budget. Of the 1.54 trillion pesos set
aside for the government for the whole of 2010, only 100 billionor 6.5 percentwas
left for the remaining six months of the year. You really have to wonder: Where
did the money go?
You may also remember anomalous projects like the dredging of Laguna Lake, wher
e we were supposed to pay 18.7 billion pesos just to play with mud; or the GOCCs
that gave away exorbitant bonuses to its officials and employees, even if they
were already operating at a loss.
It is clear that corruption was endemic in the budgeting system of the past. We
made sure to excise all of thatwe cancelled anomalous projects, we corrected the
governance of GOCCs, and we began to end all the sleight of hand with the peopl
es money. Through Zero-Based Budgeting, only programs that would truly benefit ci
tizens would be given funding. With this method, there is no room for continuing
appropriations, which was one of the reasons we had such a complicated bureaucr
acy; why there were so many opportunities for corruption; and why there were pro
grams that fed the pockets of a few, thus depriving benefits from the rest of th
e nation.
Although it wasnt our intention, fixing the budgeting process stalled the public
sectors contributions to the economy. Because of underspending, our GDP went dow
n. If we were to look at this as an irrigation system: We were left with leaky c
anals that let too much water out. We first had to make sure to seal those crack
s in the system so we do not waste any more water, and make the entire mechanism
more effective. And because there were just too many cracks in the channels, we
couldnt bring enough water to certain crops, water they needed to flourish.
We carefully studied the situation. We discovered that there were departments t
hat were able to implement projects quickly and efficiently using the funds give
n them, because they immediately streamlined their system. There were also agenc
ies that were in the process of examining their system, with an eye toward fixin
g flaws, to ensure that the peoples money wouldnt be wasted. But, naturally, time
didnt stop as all this was going on; there were agencies that understood that the
y wouldnt be able to use funds appropriated for the year toward projects for the
people. So the question then was: What do we do with the funds we havent yet touc
hed?
Allow me to clarify the meaning of savings in government. At home, dont we see s
avings as something positive? For example, if you are able to buy meat at a disc
ount, then you can get more ingredients.
In the case of government, savings has a much more complex meaning. At times, s
avings are welcome, such as in the case of DPWH, where, through correct and stri
ngent measures for bidding and procurement, we were able to save over 26 billion
pesos. There are instances, however, when savings spell something negative for
our countrymen. Every year, the Executive branch submits to the Legislature a li
st of priority programs, activities, and projects that need funding. Once enacte
d into law, the budget must be spent within the year of allocation. And if funds
for certain programs are not spent, as they should have been, clearly our count
rymen did not gain what they should have. Did this not redound to a disadvantage
to our countrymen? What this means is that every time there are savings such as
this, every time funds remain unspent when they should have been spent, our Bos
ses are deprived of a benefit.
Without doubt, any good leader would want to implement projects that benefit th
e public at the soonest possible time. I do not see any reason to delay benefits
for our countrymen, especially because we have the wherewithal to alleviate the
ir plight. It is clear that if you delay the benefits due them, you prolong the
suffering of the Filipino people.
Our strategy to meet our obligations: the Disbursement Acceleration Program or
DAP. This is the second matter that I wish to discuss tonight.
DAP is not a projectit is an efficient way of spending the budget; it follows th
e law and adheres to the mandate granted to the Executive Branch. We did this to
properly allocate funds, and by so doing maximize the benefits that the people
may receive.
How did DAP start? Hours before delivering my SONA in 2011, I was given a progr
ess report by all government departments. I was taken aback by certain informati
on given to us.
For instance: According to DepEd, out of the 8,000 school buildings that they h
ad targeted to build, they were only able to complete 18. To be honest, DepEd ha
d tried its best, but they faced a number of concernsproblems with land, assessme
nt issues, as well as the complex processes in our bureaucracy. This is why, we
asked them directly: Can you still meet your target in the remaining five months
of the year? They responded to this candidly: We are doing all that we can, but
we can only build three to four thousand classrooms until the year closes. We wi
ll have to build the remainder next year. Thus was the story: Despite the many se
tbacks that the agency had to face, DepEd delivered. And now, we have eliminated
what we inheriteda backlog of 66,800 classrooms.
The sitio electrification program is another project that was successfully impl
emented through the efficient use of savings. In 2012, our target was to energiz
e 4,053 sitios. The budget had allotted 3.87 billion pesos for this. And because
of the speedy and efficient implementation of this project, the National Electr
ification Administration requested more funds to light up an additional 2,110 si
tios. Through DAP, in 2012, 1.264 billion pesos were made available to electrify
a total of 6,163 sitiosout of the 36,000 that we need energize.
Is it not right that funds that had been otherwise left unused were utilized fo
r programs that had proven effective, so that targets can be met and the benefit
s to the people can ensue at the soonest possible time? Another advantage of thi
s system: Projects that were temporarily suspended for a given year would not ha
ve to compete for funding with the other finished projects in the following year
. This is clearly a win-win situation.
Now, lets talk about agencies such as the National Irrigation Authority or the N
IA. When I spoke at their anniversary, they proudly stated that they had doubled
their performance in meeting targets for rehabilitation and reconstruction. Loo
king at the numbers, however, we see that for the past ten years, theyve performe
d well below targettargets that they set for themselves. We all know that its much
easier to hide corruption through repairs, rather than through new projects, wh
ere the question simply becomes: Is it there, or isnt it? For example: Can we see
the new irrigation canals, or cant we?
The NIAs administrator back then also explained why, after achieving an 87 perce
nt accomplishment rate for irrigation projects in 2011, the accomplishment rate
dropped to 65 percent in 2012. Their excuse: 40 percent of the projects were in
Mindanao, and was thus affected by Typhoon Pablo. Let me remind everyone: Typhoo
n Pablo hit Mindanao in the first week of December 2012. We asked, what reasons
did they have to push the completion of Mindanao projects to the last three week
s of 2012? On top of this, remember that there are fewer workdays during Christm
as and New Years. Incredible, isnt it? I dont think anyone would agree with this st
yle of management, and we cant let such attempts to fool us pass. Weve since repla
ced the said NIA administrator.
Our aim is to not prolong the implementation of projects. The Cabinet agreed, r
egarding their respective funds: Use it or lose it. If you cannot use the funds
allotted for this year, clearly, those are savings. We are given the chance to e
xtend, at the soonest possible time, those benefits that have immediate impact o
n our Bosses. In this way, benefits that may have been delayed are replaced by o
ther benefits. Let us also remember that the government is at a deficit: We have
to borrow funds for our projects. If we allow funds to go unused, then we would
be paying interest for nothing. The people clearly have nothing to gain from th
is setup.
The Supreme Courts decision questions our use of savings, and raises concerns on
when we can use unprogrammed funds. They want savings declared only at the 31st
of December of each year. If that were the case, when would the government be f
ree to utilize these funds? Following their logic on savings, projects that coul
d have been funded in the middle of the current year would have to be delayed un
til the following year.
We also have a list of projects that would only be funded if government experie
nces a windfall in earnings, which are referred to as unprogrammed funds. With t
he Supreme Courts decision, benefits would be delayed, because it would take unti
l March of the following year to fulfill all the requirements regarding these fu
nds; on top of this, it would all then have to go through another four to six mo
nths of bidding and procurement. If you file a report in March, it would be Sept
ember of the following year by the time all of these processes are done. All in
all, almost two years would have passed before the benefits of funds would redou
nd to the people.
What are the implications of this? We have programs for the relocation of infor
mal settlers to safer places. In the system the Supreme Court is ordering us to
bring back, it might take two more rainy seasons before we are able to relocate
our countrymen. Let us remember: about twenty typhoons come our way each year. I
s it right to ask those living in hazardous areas to just leave everything to pr
ayer?
My conscience cannot bear this. I cannot accept that our countrymen will be exp
osed to danger because I let the process of bringing them assistance be prolonge
d. Let us remember: The nations coffers belongs to our citizens.
It is not only my conscience that dictates the efficient spending of funds; var
ious provisions of the law that is our countrys Administrative Code clearly allow
for the use of savings. For example, let us now read Book VI, Chapter 5, Sectio
n 39 of the 1987 Administrative Code of the Philippines:
Except as otherwise provided in the General Appropriations Act, any savings in the
regular appropriations authorized in the General Appropriations Act for program
s and projects of any department, office or agency, may, with the approval of th
e President, be used to cover a deficit in any other item of the regular appropr
iations
As you can see, this law openly gives the President the power to transfer saving
s to other projects. It does not limit the transfer to only one department or br
anch of government. In other words: We did not transgress the law when we implem
ented DAP.
In fact, we were surprised to find that the Supreme Court decision did not take
into account our legal basis for DAP. How can they say that our spending method
s are unconstitutional when they did not look into our basis? Even until now, Se
ction 39 of the Administrative Code is in effect, along with its other sections.
This becomes even more worrisome when we take into account the operative fact do
ctrine, which the Supreme Court also mentioned in its decision. This is simple. W
hen a Supreme Court declares as unconstitutional any law or edict by the Executi
ve, only those projects yet to be implemented under said law are deemed prohibit
ed. The declaration does not include completed projects if this means stripping
our citizens of benefits. This is only natural because it is not right to destro
y bridges that have already been built, or to demolish houses that have already
been bestowed to families of informal settlers.
Likewise, this doctrine also recognizes that implementors do not have to be hel
d accountable as long as the edict was carried out in good faith. But in their dec
ision, the judges immediately presume the absence of good faith, which would the
n have to be proven through trial. What happened to the principle of innocent unt
il proven guilty?
There are also those who say that DAP and PDAF are the same thing. Excuse me. DA
P is different from PDAF. With PDAF, the corrupt funneled government funds into
fake NGOs, money then allegedly divided among themselves. Its clear that with DAP
the peoples money was never stolenthe funds were used for the benefit of Filipino
s. And not for later, not soon; butnow: Programs that could be implemented immedi
ately were implemented immediately.
And didnt the Supreme Court itself, the World Bankeven critics of DAPdidnt they all
admit that DAP helped improve our economy?
It is clear that the Supreme Court has much to consider that they may better cl
arify their decision regarding DAP; hopefully they will come to realize the deci
sions negative effect on the country.
We will appeal the Supreme Courts decision. We will do this by filing a Motion f
or Reconsideration, which will allow them to more fully and more conscientiously
examine the law.
There are those who say that this decision might be a personal vendetta against
methat I am being dared to act in the same vindictive manner against them. All I
can sayas the President, as the father of this countryis that we need temperance
and forbearancewe must comply with due process.
Any lawyer we might speak to will caution against this move. The Supreme Court
voted 13-0 against DAP; only one abstained. The mere hope that the decision will
be overturned is almost impossible. We had also been warned that pushing throug
h with this motion might put us in greater danger.
My message to the Supreme Court: We do not want two equal branches of governmen
t to go head to head, needing a third branch to step in to intervene. We find it
difficult to understand your decision. You had done something similar in the pa
st, and you tried to do it again; there are even those of the opinion that what
you attempted to commit was graver. Abiding by the principle of presumption of re
gularity, we assumed that you did the right thing; after all, you are the ones wh
o should ostensibly have a better understanding of the law. And now, when we use
the same mechanismwhich, you yourselves have admitted, benefit our countrymenwhy
is it then that we are wrong?
We believe that the majority of you, like us, want only the best for the Filipi
no people. To the honorable justices of the Supreme Court: Help us help our coun
trymen. We ask that you review your decision, this time taking into consideratio
n the points I have raised tonight. The nation hopes for your careful deliberati
on and response. And I hope that once youve examined the arguments I will submit,
regarding the law and about our economy, solidarity will ensuethus strengthening
the entire governments capability to push for the interests of the nation.
Perhaps, no one will dare to doubt that we have pushed for reform these past fo
ur years. And I must ask: What is expected from those of us who are advancing re
form?
We know that the system we inherited was one that did not help, or did not do e
nough to help, our countrymen. We are now righting the wrongs in the system, so
that it may work towards this goal: To uphold the interests of the people, our B
osses who handed us our mandate. Thus, to the Supreme Court, our message: Do not
bar us from doing what we swore to do. Shouldnt you be siding with us in pushing
for reform? Let us, therefore, end this vicious cycle that has taken our people
hostage.
On this note, allow me to share a text message I received in the last week. It
reads: The politicians are making fiesta regarding DAP; but to our simple non-leg
alistic mind, it is like a motorist who parked in a no parking zone because he had
to rush to save the life of an accident victim, which has more value. Im praying
hard that these people will see the good of the people rather than their own am
bition.
To this I replied: I think the situation now is similar to what you mentioned, a
nd it might be even worse. I am after all being arrested for parking in an area
that up to now hasnt yet been declared a no-parking zone. Is this reasonable?
To my Bosses, in the coming days, I, along with my Cabinet as well as some bene
ficiaries of DAP, will be providing more information about this important topic.
I encourage all of you to read the decision of the Supreme Court, as well as th
eir concurring and dissenting opinions, so that you may better understand what I
have said tonight. For those concerned regarding the programs that had received
funding but have been put on hold because we need to follow the decision of the
Supreme Court, do not worry. We will return to Congress to ask for a supplement
al budget to ensure that all benefits are delivered.
Finally, let me impress upon everyone: DAP is good. Our intentions, our process
es, and the results were correct. Bosses, I promise you: I will not allow your s
uffering to be prolongedespecially if we could do what we can as early as now.
Thank you, and it is my hope that you now better understand the situation.