By Boo Chanco (DEMAND AND SUPPLY) | The Philippine Star | July 16, 2014
A dictionary has this entry for ho·li·er-than-thou – adj. exhibiting an attitude of superior virtue,self-righteously pious, excessively or hypocritically pious.
A thesaurus has this entry for holier-than-thou – adjective self-righteous, smug, sanctimonious, self-satisfied, goody-goody (informal), squeaky-clean, priggish.
Okay. I guess you know what I am driving at. The problem of this administration is its holier-than-thou attitude right from the start. It showed big time last Monday evening in that 6 p.m. television appearance of P-Noy.
If P-Noy is wondering why there is such an uproar over his reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on DAP, he has himself and his kabarkada of a cabinet to blame. They have set rather high standards of behavior from the start.
Those holier-than-thou standards brought high expectations in return. It would have been alright if they strictly kept within the straight and narrow path or daang matuwid. But they couldn’t help being the politicians they really are.
The rather strong backlash DAP generated is powered not so much by the hate of the groups that didn’t like him from the start, but the backlash got its wings from a strong feeling of disappointment, of being let down by those who tried to believe that with P-Noy, this time it is different.
After a bitter electoral fight, there was this feeling that good can triumph over evil. Of course the more cynical of us knew all along that there is no such thing as good in government. What looks like good only looks like good. The system is so flawed and so skewed to work against the good.
Still, there was reason to want to believe. But we saw early signs of trouble when P-Noy wouldn’t let go ofkabarkadas whose reputations had been less than pure.
Those who saw these early cracks justified it as a way for P-Noy to use evil against evil. Good translated to naïveté is not good also.
That’s the story of DAP and PDAF. P-Noy justified his compromise with the devils of Congress as part of running a government. He trusted Butch Abad, as indeed I would too, to know what he is doing and wouldn’t steal a centavo himself.
Frankly, I still have a good gut feel about Butch. He just made a big miscalculation in the execution of DAP when he compromised even more by using it as pork. He probably thought they had enough angelic halos in storage to give whatever they are doing the veneer of holiness.
Unfortunately for P-Noy and Butch, they have set the standards for good governance a bit too high, even for them. Blinded by power and positive reviews, they must have been honestly shocked by the highly toxic reaction when the whole scheme was revealed, in a Jinggoy privileged speech of all things.
It isn’t as if they were caught stealing for themselves because I still don’t think they did. But their big mistake was to facilitate others stealing away when they offered DAP to legislators. That made them co-conspirators, at the very least.
Now they must do the right thing P-Noy is incapable of. Apologize. Reveal all the sordid details and just a list of projects. The people have the right to know who got every centavo of their money.
Public perception is now so bad the administration will have little credibility to do much in the next two years unless they make big moves to win back trust. The only feasible way to win back public trust is to REVEAL EVERYTHING… every last detail of how the money was spent.
It will also help if P-Noy now fully supports the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill. Unless he does that soon, people will conclude he has some things to hide. His approval and trust ratings will continue to plummet.
The Aquino Cabinet and Liberal Party allies in Congress now look like a cabal of mafia chiefs concocting innovative ways to steal from the Treasury. I want to believe P-Noy at least, isn’t stealing but it is difficult to say the same of some in his Cabinet or Liberal Party mates.
P-Noy must recover lost hope. But as his stubbornness last Monday revealed, P-Noy is beyond change in this regard. He probably didn’t realize he was bullying the Supreme Court and that it will not be taken well by most people.
DAP isn’t all bad but that message will not resonate until P-Noy changes his attitude. I found this good take on recent events on my FB newsline that just about sums things up. I don’t personally know the author and have no permission to reveal his name, but his thoughts deserve wider consideration:
“DAP and the GPB (Grassroots Participative Budgeting) are truly innovative tools in public fiscal administration. They essentially put premium on results, re-orient government from process-driven to mission-oriented, and re-focus government from rowing to steering.
“For sure, there remains kinks in new public administration practices that has to be addressed, but the best way to know the gaps is to actually implement them. Imagining a time-in-motion implementation during the policy analysis phase is one thing. Actual time-in-motion during policy implementation is another.
“Unfortunately, some of us who still feel nostalgic of the old ways of doing things, or who are threatened by the effects of reforms to the traditional base, are continuously opposing these innovative ideas. Let’s allow these innovations to be implemented. If there are gaps in implementation, then remedial legislation can be introduced.
“The branches have their own core boundaries that the Constitution clearly delineated. But the current direction now in public administration is critical cooperative relationship, rather than the branches acting as separate silos. The bottomline is always on how to best serve the public interest.”
I can feel P-Noy’s impatience with bureaucratic rules and pace of delivery. But unlike him, I accept that we have a Constitution that defines how political power should be shared by the three branches of government.
Like all these or not, P-Noy took an oath to defend and promulgate the Constitution. It is probably news to him, but the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it mandates, not what he thinks it allows him to do.
No matter how holy he may think of himself, P-Noy must surely know by now he must be accountable for everything he and his team does or fails to do. By using the TV time he had last Monday to pick a fight with the Supreme Court instead of showing where DAP was spent, P-Noy missed an opportunity to banish the suspicion funds were misused by senators they allowed access to the funds.
It seems P-Noy still has to learn the art of government in a democracy. It is based on checks and balance. It is not okay to go beyond the red lines just because he thinks he is the epitome of honesty.
I sure hope P-Noy is able to pick it up from here. Two years is still a lot of time to recover and leave a legacy. He must drop this holier-than-thou stubbornness or not much good will happen between now and June 30, 2016.
A week after I first asked him about it, DOTC Sec. Jun Abaya texted me last Saturday evening to reply to my column Monday last week on the funding of the MRT 3 rail cars.
He said those cars would really be funded by the 2014 General Appropriations Act rather than by DAP as was earlier reported in documents Sec. Butch Abad sent the Supreme Court. Here is Sec. Jun’s text message:
“Good evening Mr. Chanco: The appropriation I was referring to is on p. 936 of the 2014 GAA. It is line item 403020003 entitled ‘Acquisition of rolling stocks for the MRT3 Capacity Expansion Project.’
“The P 4.5B DAP funds alloted in 2011 were withdrawn by the DBM on Nov. 15, 2012 under SARO No. A-12-01096. Please note that under GPPB (Govt Procurement and Policy Board) issuances, procurement activities may be started even before allotments are received. It is the issuance of a notice of award which cannot be done until a SARO has been issued. Thx”
Sec Jun is saying it is legal to hold the bidding for the rail cars half a year ahead of funds being allocated for them in the national budget. That doesn’t sound right to me.
A June 12, 2013 press release of DOTC announced the bidding for the rail cars. They haven’t even submitted the proposed budget for 2014 to Congress by that date.
I asked former Budget Secretary Ben Diokno and he said the bidding done in 2013 may no longer be applicable for purchase to be done in 2014. I hope Sec Jun is not playing with the rules again like in DAP to cover up the failures of DOTC to act in a timely manner.