POSTSCRIPT / July 15, 2014 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Will People’s Court clear Aquino on DAP?

TELL THE PEOPLE: Yesterday’s plea for reconsideration of President Noynoy Aquino before the Court of Public Opinion for the people’s approval of his constitutionally challenged Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is in danger of falling on deaf ears.

As we write this, President Aquino, probably feeling the ground shaking, is on nationwide TV in an extra-judicial attempt to salvage DAP and his waning mass support. (Latest surveys indicate a continuing slide in his popularity.)

Unless Mr. Aquino admits he is capable of error and puts forward new arguments, he is not likely to convince an increasingly skeptical public to accept DAP as a valid crossover exercise of legislative functions by his Executive office.

Dressing up DAP with his claimed good faith and the program’s alleged beneficial effects on the people’s lives cannot provide the missing legal bases to uphold its constitutionality.

He or his handlers must have seen the need to change venue, so he went directly to the Court of Public Opinion.

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PALACE APOLOGIA: It is well and good that the President announced in his 25-minute report that Malacañang would move for the reconsideration of the SC unanimous decision striking down as unconstitutional his usurpation of legislative functions through his DAP.

In their apologia, the President and his yellow brigade keep retailing their theory that:

• Only future disbursements under DAP are deemed illegal, but not the consummated misuse of the funds especially if committed in good faith.

• Despite being cross-border diversions, DAP disbursements stimulated the economy enough to justify the illegal use of forced savings.

• It is not true that DAP was struck down as unconstitutional since only a few portions, not the entire program, had been declared in violation of the Constitution.

Conceding that it could be difficult overturning the unanimous decision of the high court, he appealed to the SC justices to take a second hard look at the people’s interest adversely affected by the freezing of savings that could be used to accelerate vital projects.

* * *

REJOINDER: As rejoinder to the Palace theory, we recall points we have raised in Postscript:

• While good faith could be a mitigating factor, it is unacceptable as blanket justification of criminal acts. If alleged, good faith has to be proved. Remember that “the road to perdition is paved with good intentions”, and that “the end does not justify the means”.

• The SC struck down substantial elements of DAP. Take away all those key unconstitutional provisions, nothing workable will be left. In effect, DAP has been rendered constitutionally infirm in its entirety.

• That DAP stimulated the economy significantly still has to be proved. Official data show that the minuscule contribution of DAP to the total economy has had minimal effect. Even assuming there was economic stimulation, it cannot justify illegal disbursements.

• Criminal DAP acts must be dealt with retroactively. Even before the SC ruling was handed down, there was already violation at the very instant when the questioned DAP acts collided with the prohibitions in the 1987 Constitution antedating the SC decision.

* * *

RECONSIDERATION: The President’s DAP offensive is now running on two parallel lines: one leading to the SC and another going directly to the people.

If the President fails in his last-ditch appeal to turn up his fast dwindling satisfaction and trust ratings, he is – and we are — in deep trouble.

Caught in a tempest at sea, while there is nothing that the ship captain can do about the foul weather, there are some things he can do to deliver the passengers safely to the harbor.

The captain must do something DRASTIC and really QUICK with himself, his crew and the ship. We the passengers are waiting anxiously.

* * *

ALL-TIME LOW: The performance picture does not look good. The latest surveys show that President Aquino has been dealt in all regions and all sectors the biggest decline in his trust and approval ratings, now on the lowest levels since he assumed power in 2010.

Pulse Asia said that in the March-June period, Mr. Aquino’s performance rating dropped from 70 percent to 56 percent while his trust rating fell from 69 percent to 53 percent.

It also noted that less than half of Metro Manila adults have positive views on Mr. Aquino’s performance and trustworthiness (46 percent and 40 percent, respectively).

The survey of the Social Weather Stations also showed Mr. Aquino’s satisfaction rating dropping perilously. Some 66 percent of the respondents were satisfied with his performance while 30 percent said otherwise.

His net satisfaction rating decreased across all regions and among economic classes. The biggest drop was recorded in Metro Manila (from +33 to +6) and in Class D and E (from +45 and +44, respectively, to +22 and +31).

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WORSE TO COME? The Pulse Asia and SWS reports must have contributed to the decision of the President’s handlers to have him go immediately on a pre-SONA nationwide broadcast.

When approval ratings drop to the 40s after the glory days of 80s rating, it is usually difficult massaging back the line on the graph to go up again. The best that could be expected is for the line to go on a plateau.

The surveys were conducted before the legal issues involving DAP have sunk in deeply in the public consciousness.

The next surveys could paint a worse scenario when the full impact of the constitutional violations is fully explained to the people by critics while the Yellow propaganda machine is unable to effectively counter-explain.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 15, 2014)

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