POSTSCRIPT / September 28, 2014 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Abad eye leads you to evil? Pluck it out!

HELL FIRE: This being a Sunday, a blessed day in the fourth year of the administration of President Noynoy Aquino, let us listen again and draw lessons from the Gospel:

Christ said in Mark 9:43, 45, 47:

43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

* * *

ALBATROSS: That should be clear enough even to a kid in catechism class, more so to a graduate of a top Catholic school.

So, going straight to the point, why does not President Aquino pluck out Budget Secretary Florencio Abad of DAP infamy from his immediate circle rather than risk having both of them and his entire administration cast into hell fire?

Many of those who care for the President and the nation are worried that Abad — described as an Evil Genius by Joker Arroyo, the executive secretary of Noynoy’s late mother President Cory – is bringing down the Aquino administration.

Abad, the brains behind the unconstitutional P150-billion-plus Development Acceleration Program, has become the albatross around the neck of chief mariner Noynoy Aquino.

* * *

SANITIZED REPORTS: Caught in his sticky DAP web, Abad has been rushing an accounting of the billions in forced savings grabbed from bulky budget items for a presidential pork barrel for political patronage such as when there is need to bribe or tip lawmakers.

Calling Abad a congenital liar, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco reported: “At first Abad didn’t want to give the list (of DAP recipients), but was forced to give one when I questioned the quorum around 2:45 p.m. of Sept. 15. He said it’s the same copy as DBM’s, but the number of pages of his copy and the number of mine were not the same. My copy was sanitized.”

Aside from this, Tiangco said his copy had blanks in the column for proponents.

Abad had promised to submit the complete records on Sept. 17. Tiangco recalled: “At 8 p.m. Sept. 17, no record was submitted. Instead, the DBM posted on its website a report on Sept. 17 late in the evening. When it was rechecked on Sept. 19, it was already a different report. Both reports had a lot of blanks in the column of proponents, that is why the total was only P8.8 billion, short by P2.2 billion of the P11 billion.”

* * *

JOKER DENIAL: In his heavily edited report, Abad said Joker Arroyo, when he was still senator, received P47 million from DAP — which Arroyo angrily denied.

Arroyo said the P47 million listed must have been the funds spent for three school buildings and some hospitals for which he proposed assistance when he was a senator but which he said were disapproved.

He expressed surprise the amount has surfaced in the DAP report. He stressed that he had never asked for nor received P47 million from Abad, the Department of Budget and Management, or from DAP.

* * *

ANOTHER EVIL EYE: It seems it is not just Abad who has developed into an evil eye that must be plucked out.

Another one is Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, who happens to be the LP president, against whom charges have been filed with the Ombudsman involving the allegedly anomalous maintenance contract for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) running on top of EDSA.

Those who have been reading our colleague Jarius Bondoc know by now the many illegalities in the contract awarded by Abaya et al. to a firm that allegedly has no track record, no adequate financing and whose qualification is its having on its board relatives of an MRT official.

Despite Malacañang’s being overprotective of allies under a cloud, it is significant that the Ombudsman has preliminarily reported discovering that 15 days before the expiration of the last contract extension, a new one amounting to $1.15 million a month was awarded to PH Trams-CB&T without public bidding.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Abaya had already appeared in Congress to explain the MRT situation and that the secretary is willing to face the charges before the Ombudsman. Willing? He has no choice but to face them!

* * *

LIFT THE SAGGING RATINGS: Somebody should advise President Aquino that suspending (if dismissal is too much) Abad and Abaya will lift a big burden off his shoulders, and help clear a perception that he is coddling crooks in the Cabinet.

That move alone will vastly improve his administration’s sagging trust rating.

Many sympathizers of President Aquino are concerned that a Liberal Party cabal is holding him hostage and using him to raise billions ostensibly for the LP war chest for the 2016 presidential elections.

Like National Food Authority administrator Arthur Juan who has resigned amid accusations of extortion, it should be easy for Abad and Abaya to also cite health reasons and either resign or, to have one foot still in, go on leave.

Their going on leave or being preventively suspended is not a confirmation or admission of guilt.

But neither will appearing before a ka-cosa Yellow Ribbon committee clear them, because the Senate is not the proper tribunal to decide the guilt or innocence of an official on the carpet.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 28, 2014)

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