Looking at the ecstatic faces of members of the Congress committee who approved the BBL, one would find reports are certainly credible that each was promised P50 million in pork-barrel funds and a further P1 million in cash by President Aquino.
If you look at the list of those who voted yes, you’ll realize many of them are people who really don’t even know the difference between a Maguindanaon and a Yakan.
Yes, despite the controversy and public outrage over it, Aquino and his wily Budget Secretary Florencio Abad have maintained pork-barrel funds in this year’s budget, called Bottom-up Budgeting projects. They amount to P20.9 billion, even bigger than the past several years’ pork-barrel allocations (see my column, “The new pork is BUB, boys,” January 22, 2015).
The cash component is likely to come from the huge funds under the discretion of the Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas, who even took over funds such as those for housing disbursed in the past by other departments.
Why is Aquino so determined, even obsessed, to ram the BBL down the throat of Congress less than a year before he steps down?
Shouldn’t he be reasonable and tell the nation that since he is relinquishing power at end-June 2016, the decision to create an MILF substate in Mindanao lies in the next President and Congress? After all, it would be their headache, wouldn’t it?
There likely are petty reasons for Aquino’s steamrolling of the BBL. Since his meeting with the Muslim insurgents’ chief in 2011, he has been obsessed with winning a Nobel, which in his case could come through his role in bringing peace to Mindanao, a feat that had escaped the grasp of her mother whom he believes didn’t think much of him.
The most compelling reason, though, that could explain why such a massive propaganda campaign for the BBL has been going on for several months now, why even Aquino’s business cronies have been conscripted to the task, is that the BBL’s passage, as seen by his strategists, is really the only way for a yellow victory in the 2016 elections. Their logic is as follows:
Just 700,000 votes needed
In the 2010 vice-presidential race, now leading presidential candidate Jejomar Binay won by only 727,084 votes over the yellow heir-apparent Mar Roxas.
The memory of that contest can be reasonably recalled and used for the 2016 presidential elections: there is even a “proxy” for Senator Grace Poe – then Senator Loren Legarda, who also zoomed up in popularity in those times and landed third in the vice-presidential elections.
While the Liberal Party’s shock-and-awe demolition job against Binay may have reduced his voter-preference ratings, I don’t think that has been enough for Roxas or for Poe to overtake the vice president in the current race.
One precedent for this is the case of former President Joseph Estrada. Despite his conviction for plunder and jail term, albeit a rest-house arrest, he still landed second in the 2010 presidential elections, getting 27 percent of the votes. He would have been president really, if Cory Aquino had not died for her son to get such an avalanche of sympathy votes.
One major factor for Binay’s victory was his near landslide victory in the Muslim areas, specifically the five provinces that comprise the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.
Binay got 474,309 votes in ARMM, or nearly three times the number Mar received.
However, if ARMM goes for Roxas in 2016, and he gets just 60 percent of the votes in that region, that will mean 720,000 votes for him (and for Binay, minus that many), covering for the vice-president’s overall margin in the 2010 elections.
Why would ARMM go for Roxas? Because the Muslims there, after a year of propaganda, have been made to believe that the BBL is a step toward their own substate.
And if they don’t, and they really prefer to be Filipinos, rather than “Bangsamoro,” the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has more soldiers and arms than the Philippine National Police in the area, and which would control the BM government, would make sure they’d vote for Roxas.
It would actually be a walk in the park for this regime, with the P10 billion it had amassed through the DAP and other government contracts, to shave percentages off other provinces and add to ARMM’s “landslide vote,” to let Roxas win in 2016.
Where did I get that 60 percent estimate of ARMM votes? That’s the percentage of voters in ARMM who approved of the BBL, according to the recent Social Weather Station survey (commissioned by Aquino’s allies).
SWS to justify support
Even if not that many ARMM voters really vote for Roxas in 2016 and he got those numbers merely by cheating, Aquino and his cohorts — if BBL is passed – would point to that survey as justification and smokescreen for why the yellow heir to the throne won.
They would claim that the goodwill among Muslims which the BBL created for the yellow regime, and their fear that it would be dismantled if the opposition won, generated a landslide of votes for whoever would be Aquino’s candidate.
Aquino’s best-scenario plan is to have the BBL passed in June, and after a plebiscite in August, put the BM substate in place. The BBL provides for the disbursement to the BM government of P70 billion as soon as it is set up. Do you think this immoral government won’t use that money for buying support for the 2016 elections?
That is also the main reason why other than P50 million in projects plus P1 million in cash, pro-Administration congressmen have been solid in supporting the BBL.
They have been told that passage of the BBL is the key ingredient to an Administration victory in 2016.
Many of these congressmen are deeply involved in the pork-barrel scam, and they know that with a nonpartisan Ombudsman, they are likely to go to jail if a new administration rises to power in 2016.
The governor of ARMM Hajiv Hatiman, who has a brother in Congress, was given P8.6 billion in funds through the Disbursement Acceleration Plan. How the hell would he, as well as the provincial governors he shared that money with, ever explain how the money was used?
Of course Aquino himself—and he knows this, which explains his jest that he would want to be jailed in “Fort Bonifacio”—stands to go to jail for this very DAP, a massive case of technical malversation.
That is how depraved Aquino and his cohorts are.
To remain in power, they are even willing to risk the dismemberment of our Republic and accede to the MILF and Malaysia’s gameplan for Muslim Mindanao to eventually become a state in the Malaysian Federation.