[12 Aug 2015 | Comments Off on Ridon: There is P648.2 billion pork in 2016 budget, minimum | 681 views]

Including P217.8 billion worth of lump sums stashed in budget of 38 agencies

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[2 Sep 2015 | No Comment | 94 views]

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon called on Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Wednesday not to hesitate in prosecuting President Benigno Aquino III and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) fiasco.

“We welcome with great relief the news that the Ombudsman is currently investigating Aquino and Abad over DAP. Yet we are wary that this investigation is a new subterfuge aimed at deodorizing Aquino, Abad, and all other Liberal Party stalwarts ahead of the elections. We urge the Ombudsman to act judiciously, and not bow to the pressure and machinations of the current administration,” Ridon said.

The legislator made the statement a day after Carpio Morales’ revealed that her agency is now investigating Aquino and Abad over DAP.

“We appeal to the good Ombudsman to exhaust all means to implement the Supreme Court ruling on DAP. The Filipino people have high expectations for the Ombudsman regarding this case. Ombudsman Morales should not let us all down by simply absolving Aquino and Abad,” Ridon stressed.

Ombudsman should implement DAP ruling

The youth solon explained the Ombudsman has enough reason to find Aquino and Abad guilty over several charges, including malversation and plunder.

“Ombudsman Morales should take the cues from the DAP decision of the SC, as it clearly challenges the public to hold Aquino and Abad accountable for creating DAP,” Ridon said, referring to the 27-page final decision on DAP promulgated by the Supreme Court in February this year.

In the said ruling, the SC upheld the unconstitutionality of several acts under DAP, particularly the “withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings,” and the “cross-border transfer of savings.”

The SC also emphasized that “only DAP projects found in the appropriate GAAs may be the subject of augmentation by legally accumulated savings.” “Whether or not the 116 DAP-funded projects had appropriation cover and were validly augmented require factual determination that is not within the scope of the present consolidated petitions.”

“This is precisely what the Ombudsman needs to investigate – whether a crime was committed by channeling funds to these DAP projects. Any keen observer who’s followed the DAP fiasco would agree that enough evidence is present to indict Aquino and Abad,” Ridon said.

The legislator added that the subsequent findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) on how DAP essentially did not serve its purpose of expediting public expenditure, and the billions in unliquidated DAP releases, should all be considered by the Ombudsman in its investigations.

Is it all a ruse?

“The Ombudsman should not be deterred by the fact that Aquino will be immune from suit until next year. What the Palace does not realize is Aquino is not immune from suit forever. Sa tulong ng Ombudsman at ng ebidensya, nawa’y maparusahan si Aquino bunsod ng DAP sa tamang panahon,” Ridon quipped.

The legislator, however, also expressed apprehension over the Ombudsman’s ongoing investigation.

“While there is enough material to give the Ombudsman a lead to the leakages surrounding DAP, our worst fear is that the vaunted investigation will prove to be a mere ruse to acquit Aquino and Abad. Prove us wrong, Ombudsman Morales,” Ridon said.

“At least in the case of Abad, the Ombudsman has a firm commitment that we’ll see the result of the investigations within the month. We firmly call on Morales to fulfill his mandate and not let the DAP masterminds go unharmed,” Ridon said.cover tita ipay

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[1 Sep 2015 | No Comment | 242 views]

Kabataan Party-list condemns in the strongest possible terms the reported murder of three Lumad leaders and advocates at dawn today by suspected elements of armed paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani.

Initial reports show that at around 4 a.m. today, Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) Executive Director Emerito Samarca, MAPASU Lumad People’s Organization Chairman Dionel Campos, and Aurelio Sinzo were killed when elements of the said paramilitary group that forcibly occupied the ALCADEV Compound at Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

ALCADEV is an alternative Lumad school.

Reports also show that prior to the incident, the school and the surrounding community have already been occupied by elements from the 36th Infantry Batallion, Philippine Army and the Special Forces Regiment. They told residents and school administrators to evacuate immediately or be massacred.

As of writing, residents of Brgy. Diatagon have already fled their community, fearing for their lives after the dawn murder.

This new spate of Lumad killings by paramilitary groups and suspected elements of the military is the result of President Aquino’s extant policy of militarization of the countryside. This latest incident further highlights the continuing culture of impunity in a country with a very dismal record of protecting human rights.

Every administration has its own record of human rights violations but there has been an alarming increase in human rights violations — especially against Lumads — under the Aquino administration. Numerous groups have been calling on the president to look into these cases and personally ensure their immediate expedition so that justice can be served and the perpetrators prosecuted. Yet his inaction proves his failure in ensuring accountability.

We call on the House Committee on Human Rights to act motu propio and investigate this latest human rights violation. We also enjoin other government agencies, especially the Commission on Human Rights, to stop dilly-dallying and hold accountable those responsible for the death of Samarca, Campos, Sinzo, and other victims of rampant militarization.

Lastly, the Armed Forces of the Philippines should be castigated and thoroughly investigated for the intensifying attacks against our Lumad brothers and sisters. These human rights violators, along with their minion paramilitary groups, are causing havoc and utter devastation in Lumad communities. This must stop.Cateel Davao Oriental

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[1 Sep 2015 | No Comment | 93 views]

Hours before the congressional deliberation on the proposed 2016 budget of the Office of Ombudsman, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said that he has just one question for Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales: Whatever happened to the charges filed against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad over his role in the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) fiascos?

Ridon noted that not only is a formal petition against Abad gathering dust in the Office of the Ombudsman, but there are also other parties that are clamoring for the budget secretary’s prosecution. He cited the new Supreme Court petition filed by the group led by Atty. Greco Belgica last August, which called on the high court to order Carpio-Morales to investigate Abad, along with President Benigno Aquino III, over their role in the DAP and PDAF mess.

Ridon also noted that it has been more than a year since he led youth groups in filing plunder raps against Abad before the Office of the Ombudsman, yet Carpio-Morales has “not even lifted a finger” to act on the complaint.

In a 16-page petition filed by Rep. Ridon and several other youth leaders last July 8, 2014, the petitioners said that Abad “systematically misappropriated, converted, misused, and malversed public funds” through his involvement in both the DAP and the PDAF cases.

In the said complaint, youth petitioners alleged that Abad “systematically misappropriated, converted, misused, and malversed public funds through his executive issuances and the programs implemented by him as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management.”

“The Office of the Ombudsman has seemingly slept on the case and buried it in the pits of oblivion. How can we believe that this government is sincere in its anti-corruption campaign when it engages in selective application of the law,” the lawmaker added.

Ridon reiterated his appeal to the Ombudsman Carpio-Morales to expedite the investigation on Abad’s case. “The public deserves to know the truth. The esteemed ombudsman should not give in to pressure by the Aquino administration,” he stressed.

Bribing its way out?

The youth solon also noted the sharp increase in the budgetary allocation not only for the Office of the Ombudsman, but also other agencies that have the power to indict Aquino for his crimes after his term expires next year.

Ridon noted that the Office of the Ombudsman’s budget has increased by 68 percent from the 2010 allocation, with DBM proposing a P1.78 billion budget for Carpio-Morales’ agency next year. The same goes for the Sandiganbayan and the Commission on Audit (COA), which will receive P505.9 million and P9.13 billion budgets next year, respectively.

Sandiganbayan’s 2016 budget is 51 percent higher than its budget in 2010, while COA’s budget next year represents a 140 percent increase from its budget in 2010.

“Given these figures, we ask: Is the Aquino administration trying to bribe its way out of prosecution by systematically inflating the budgets of the Ombudsman, Sandiganbayan, and COA? The increase in these agencies’ budgets should be scrutinized with a fine comb, so as to ensure that the bigger budget is not just a favor granted by Aquino to ensure that he will not be prosecuted after his term,” Ridon ended.Slide1

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[29 Aug 2015 | No Comment | 117 views]

Kabataan Party-list again expressed apprehension over the credibility of the upcoming 2016 national elections, with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) again awarding the contract to conduct the source code review for the optical mark reader (OMR) machines to the same company that reviewed source codes used in the 2010 and 2013 automated elections.

On Friday, COMELEC announced that it has turned over the source code to Colorado-based certification company SLI Global Solutions, which also conducted the source code review in the 2010 and 2013 elections.

“The fact that the same company that conducted the source code review in the past two automated elections has again been employed for 2016 don’t sit well with us. Combine this with the fact that Smartmatic will again provide new untested machines, and you’ll have a best-in-class recipe for election fraud,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said.

“It’s like the 2010 elections all over again – with the shady machines and shadier source code review. We call on COMELEC to ensure that the source code will also be opened for review by the public earlier, and not repeat the last-minute submission of source codes that happened in the past two elections,” Ridon said.

The source code, a set of alpha-numeric instructions that essentially run the voting machines, is vulnerable to fraud, since questionable lines of code and even backdoor access by third parties can be inserted discreetly and compromise the result of the elections.

Ridon particularly noted that the software for the new OMR machines is newly-developed and has not yet subjected to rigorous public testing. “COMELEC should ensure that the upcoming public source code review should be exhaustive, unlike the ‘walk-through reviews’ conducted in the past,” he added.

“Public scrutiny over the preparations for the upcoming polls should intensify. We must scrutinize every step carefully, because if we don’t identify red flags early on, we might not recognize attempts to commit electoral fraud,” Ridon ended.OMR lowres

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[29 Aug 2015 | No Comment | 187 views]

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon traded barbs with Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chair Patricia Licuanan on Saturday, with the lawmaker saying that not only will there be budget cuts in the operating budget of state schools, but that the annual government subsidy for public universities fall short by an average of P16 billion.

Licuanan has earlier disputed the report on the new spate of budget cuts in the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) of 59 out of 114 state universities and colleges (SUCs), and the cut in the capital outlay (CO) of 40 SUCs.

“Despite Dr. Licuanan’s denial, we stand by what the data tells us. We cannot emphasize enough how cutting the operating budget of SUCs will affect their day-to-day operations,” Ridon said.

“We’ve also talked to heads of SUCs, and from what we’ve gathered, the MOOE reductions will surely have a negative impact, especially in schools devastated by past disasters, like Typhoon Yolanda,” Ridon added.

When totaled, the cuts in the MOOE of the 59 state schools amount to P477.8 million.

Western Visayas is the region most affected by the MOOE cuts, with eight schools in the region affected. At close second is Yolanda-ravaged Eastern Visayas, with seven schools incurring reductions in their MOOE.

Annual subsidy short by P16 billion

“Worse, more data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reveals that the annual subsidy to our state schools – despite its gradual increase over the years – fall short by an average of P16 billion,” the lawmaker added.

Data from DBM’s Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing show that while the total expenditure of 114 SUCs in the country amounts to an average of P59 billion annually, the government provision for SUCs falls short by P16 billion, amounting to an average of only P43 billion since 2014, official government data show.

 

TOTAL EXPENDITURES OF STATE UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES 2014-2015 (IN ‘000 PHP)

Year  Expenditures from government subsidy  Expenditures from internal income  Total expenditures
2014                          38,372,068                                            14,395,265                   52,767,333
2015                          44,397,334                                            17,623,579                   62,020,913
2016                          46,013,772                                            16,691,684                   62,705,456
 AVERAGE                          42,927,725                                            16,236,843                   59,164,567

Source: 2016 Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing

To compensate for the lack in subsidy, SUCs are compelled to earn their own income through various means, including charging tuition and other fees, and utilizing assets.

Since 2010, the average internal income of all SUCs amount to an average of P36 billion, two-thirds or almost P11 billion of which comes from fees paid by students.

Next year, DBM projects that SUCs will spend a total of P62.7 billion, of which P16.7 billion is expected to be financed by internal income.

“Students are the real victims in the continued underfunding of the government for our SUCs. Due to insufficient funds, state schools intensify the collection of tuition and various fees,” Ridon said.

DBM slashed original budget requests

“It’s deplorable for Dr. Licuanan to hype nominal increases in the total budget for SUCs without stating the fact that DBM and CHED actually slashed their original proposals,” Ridon also noted.

UP, for example, originally requested for P24.66 billion, of which DBM only approved less than half or P10.89 billion.

MSU-Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography, which will incur the heftiest cut in MOOE, actually requested for P351.7 million, but DBM only approved P345.8 million.

In the previous year, the total request of SUCs amounted to P122.7 billion, yet the General Appropriations Act only provided P42.2 billion, or about a third of the original request.

“The Aquino administration has continually emphasized that it is responding to the needs of the education sector, yet these figures clearly show that it is not.

“Dr. Licuanan, the devil is in the details – before you dispute the cuts in the budget of SUCs by emphasizing nominal increases, you should first look at the other important details, including how the Aquino administration has failed to provide for the whole budget request of SUCs annually, and how the government’s continued underfunding of SUCs push them to collect fees from students more aggressively,” Ridon said.

“We call on Dr. Licuanan to stop serving as a mouthpiece and spin doctor of the Aquino government, and instead join us in calling for increased public spending for higher education,” the legislator concluded.cover tita ipay