It was Adolf Hitler who pointed out first what is known as the big-lie propaganda technique, which his Joseph Goebbels perfected: “Tell a big lie, keep repeating it, and people will eventually believe it.“
Hitler in his Mein Kampf even explained why it is so effective: “(The masses) would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
The “big-lie” technique is what Aquino has been employing in his desperate effort to justify what is inarguably the biggest case of malversation of government funds in our history and perhaps even in the world – the P144 billion or $3 billion used for his grossly-misnamed Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Aquino’s big lie, repeated again and again in so many versions, is that the DAP was intended to stimulate the economy, and funded projects beneficial to the country.
Hitler and Goebbels would have congratulated Aquino.
Intentionally or not, Aquino’s big-lie trick has successfully brought much of public discourse to such really tangential issues as whether or not he had good faith in undertaking the DAP scheme or – an inane question actually – whether or not the Administrative Code of 1987 authorizes the President to spend government funds in whatever way he wants. (It doesn’t; only savings are authorized, which the Supreme Court found were not the funds Aquino used.)
Some of the more reasonable of what have been called the “Noytards” (rabid believers of Aquino) in social media postings concede that the DAP was unconstitutional but still insist that, “anyway, it funded good projects such as the acquisition of a Doppler radar.”
The truth is that, launched in October 2011 when he moved to take out Corona, it was the only way for Aquino to raise the huge slush fund and additional pork barrel money he needed to motivate Congress to undertake the unprecedented ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The list of 116 projects funded through the DAP released the other day by the budget department incontrovertibly confirms such bribe money in the form of pork barrel and patronage funds authorized by Aquino as follows:
Item 41 (in the DBM listing), “Other Various Local Projects P6.5 billion released: This item shall fund priority local projects nationwide requested by legislators, local government officials and national agencies,” according to the DBM document itself.
Item 73, “Other various infrastructure projects: P8.1 billion released.” The DBM document even explains: “This item shall fund priority local projects nationwide requested by legislators, local government officials, and national agencies.”
These two items were the source of the P100-million bribe money per legislator that Sen. Jinggoy Estrada exposed on September 25, 2012, and which Corona’s defense counsel Judd Roy 3rd reported during the trial.
Evidence of this had been unearthed in the form of a copy of Senate President Franklin Drilon’s letter marked “Private and Confidential” to several senators asking him or her “to submit to Dir. Gen. Yolanda Doblon on or before August 31, 2012, P50 million worth of infrastructure projects you wish to be funded in 2012.”
Item 53, GOCCs: Other Various Local Projects, P1.9 billion. “This item shall fund priority development projects nationwide in the areas of municipal ports, farm-to-market roads, local roads and bridges, livelihood, nutrition development and electrification through certain government and government-owned or controlled corporations.” Who decided what projects would be funded? Abad, after instructions from Aquino.
Item 42, “Development Assistance to the Province of Quezon,” P750 million. That certainly would have been a big incentive for then Sen. Edgardo Angara, whose power base is Quezon province, to vote to remove Corona. And that P750 million is on top of the P50 million DAP-funded pork barrel funds he had received in 2012. No wonder his son, now Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, has been so energetic in defending Aquino’s DAP, as one done in good faith.
One venue also for ensuring Congress support for his project to remove Corona, was through massive funds for local governments, which are under the aegis of congressmen and senators, among these:
“LGU Support Fund,” P4.5 billion; “NHA: On-site Development for Families along dangerous areas,” P10 billion; “Relocation sites for informal settlers along Iloilo River and its tributaries,” P100 million (No wonder Congress’ prosecutor Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas had so much energy for the trial.); Mindanao Rural Development Project, P919 million; “Various Priority Infrastructure Projects,” P2.8 billion; and the biggest pork barrel of course, P8.6 billion for local governments in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
But Aquino and his budget secretary Florencio Abad, of course, realized that the hijacking of funds from projects appropriated by Congress for the bribe money would be so obvious if the money funded only that agenda, even if disguised as priority infrastructure funds.
So they included as many projects they could identify immediately, and Abad just asked Cabinet members what they wanted to fund, if money not in the appropriations laws were available.
This is the reason why several of the projects the DAP funded had practically nothing to do with stimulating the economy but which Cabinet members and allies asked for as if asked by Santa Claus what they wanted for Christmas, among them:
• Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan asked for P100 million for the institution which has been his base for decades, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies to buy a new building for its headquarters;
• Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez asked for and got P5 billion for his “Tourism Road Infrastructure,” another P500 million to fund the advertisement costs abroad for his “It’s more fun in the Philippines” slogan; and P200 million to move from the Manila headquarters it has had for decades to a “JB Building” in Makati. That last expenditure would have been a boon for the owners of JB building. Was there a bidding where the new tourism department offices would be?
• Technical and Skills Development Authority head Joel Villanueva probably thought that a drastic expansion of his agency’s operations would boost his chances of winning a Senate seat in the 2013 elections, and asked for, and got, P1.6 billion additional funding for its training programs, nationwide.
• Interior and Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas asked for, and got, P250 million “Performance Challenge Fund” for local governments, which he dispensed at his discretion to build up his political base for his presidential ambitions in 2016. That is on top of the P4.5 billion “LGU support fund” mentioned above, which he distributes at his discretion.
• And, of course, Peace Adviser Teresita Deles got one of the biggest allocations P1.8 billion for “peace activities” of her office, which included campaigning here and abroad to win Aquino a Nobel Peace Prize.
These Cabinet secretaries should check if their requests were made in writing. If they were, they should beg Abad to shred it.
As I will explain on Friday, several Sandiganbayan and Supreme Court decisions include as conspirators the recipients of government funds in malversation cases. They are also jailed, and ordered to shoulder the return of the money involved with the official who illegally released the funds.
Aquino, of course, wasn’t one to be left behind in the distribution, as it were, of the loot. “Hindi pagugulang,” as that precise Pilipino term would put it.
He allocated from DAP funds P2 billion for road projects in his home province of Tarlac, and where his family’s crown jewel, Hacienda Luisita, is conveniently located. Abad and public works secretary Rogelio Singson were even so sycophantic: A note in the DBM document said: “The total requirement was increased from P1.1 billion to P2 billion after DPWH reviewed and adjusted the costing.”
Still looking for projects to cover for the real nefarious goal of his DAP, Aquino probably was mulling over this as his eyes fell on his Presidential Security Group bodyguard. “Kayo, Sarge, kailangan ba niyo ng pera?”
Voila, he allocated P250 million from the DAP to “enhance command in (sic) control of critical information and communications of PSG.”
You might suspect, though ,that Aquino or Abad may have the gift of prescience. Aquino allocated P20 million out of DAP money to the DILG to build a “facility to house high-risk and high-profile inmates.”
This would be, according to the DBM document, at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, and definitely not the one in Camp Crame where senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla are jailed. Costing P20 million, that facility probably has a smoking room and another for electronic games.