DAVAO CITY — The progressive Makabayan bloc in Congress criticized the Aquino administration of hiding allegations of misuse of funds to stop inflationary prices in the market by hyping up on the arrest of opposition senators accused with embezzling legislative funds.
“The arrest of Sen. Ramon Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada and soon, of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile should not be used by the Aquino administration to cover up its extreme negligence in allowing the prices of basic commodities to soar. In fact there is said to be a big time oil price hike coming this week because our oil industry is deregulated and is affected by the tension in Iraq,” Bayan Muna Partylist representativess Carlos Isagani Zarate said.
Prices of food such as garlic has risen to P400 a kilo, and an impending P1.50 hike in oil prices is set this week.
A survey from the economic think-tank IBON Foundation last April revealed that six out of 10 Filipinos are having difficulty to buy enough food. Nearly half of them also are burdened with expenses ranging from water and electric bills and children’s education.
Zarate warned that Aquino is using this issue to prop up his administration’s anti-graft drive despite complaints from the public on the spike in food commodities and oil.
“An anti-corruption campaign and a selective one at that should not be used as an excuse for criminal negligence for higher prices,” Zarate said.
Fellow Bayan Muna Partylist Rep.Neri Colmenares said that the Palace is not coming out clean in itself despite the national pomp in having the senators arrested pointing out at the presidential pork barrel still tucked inside the national budget.
“The graft ridden pork barrel still thrives in the 2014 budget, specifically the estimated P1 trillion lump sum under the discretion of President Benigno Aquino III, including, but not limited to, the much abused Malampaya Fund, the Special Purpose Fund, the President Social Fund, the road users fund and the intelligence fund of various departments and agencies,” Colmenares said.
Colmenares, who is a senior deputy minority leader, said only opposition lawmakers are being charged on the plunder case when records surrendered by pork barrel whistle-blowers have implicated other lawmakers who are known to be presidential allies.
“Presidential allies like Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Sec. Butch Abad are still unscathed by any investigation. As it is, only the opposition is being hit and its members are threatened of being arrested. What would truly be a milestone is when an incumbent president is jailed for plunder or even just his big time allies,” he said.
Alcala’s name is implicated in various agricultural projects that involved businesswoman Janet Napoles, co-accused in the P10 billion pork barrel scam. Abad is also questioned for releasing the P150 Disbursement Acceleration Program sourced from unused government budget in the middle of 2013.
Gabriela Women Partylist representative Luz Ilagan also scored the selective prosecution of erring senior government officials.
“The continuing corruption, the already delayed and selective prosecution of all those involved in the pork barrel scam as well as the delay in the Supreme Court’s ruling on the DAP is causing much frustration and outrage among Filipinos especially the youth,” she said, as she defended the action of Ateneo de Naga student, Em Mijares, who was arrested for heckling President Aquino as a “Pork Barrel King” during the Independence Day rites in Naga.
“There will be more Mijareses and there will be more protests unless all those involved, including the President himself are made accountable for the corruption. ” Ilagan said.
Colmenares urged the pubic to form initiatives to keep watch on the pork barrel cases.
“It is in this light that we must never let our guard down against the pork barrel system and vigorously push for the people’s initiative (P.I.) against pork so that it can truly be abolished,” he said. (davaotoday.com)