A tale of two privilege speeches

There were two privilege speeches today. In the Senate there was Senator Jinggoy Estrada, indicted for plunder in his involvement with #PDAFscam and Mrs. Janet Lim Napoles. In the House, was Representative Abigail Binay, defending her family, again on allegation that she used her Priority Development Assistance Fund for evil.

Senator Estrada didn’t really have anything different to say. “I’m innocent,” lashing out against against due process, and as Nik put it, “whining about his inability to interfere in the Ombudsman’s investigation.” Filipinas adds, he offered insinuations and analysis from his great mind, and publicly humiliated himself again.

Rappler has a transcript of Senator Estrada’s speech.

Binay’s privilege speech

As Senator Estrada was surrounded by his family— in black for the occasion— Representative Abigail Binay at the other end of the capital gave her own privilege speech to defend herself and her family amidst allegations that she used her “pork barrel to pay for political rallies and bused-in crowds from 2007 to 2009, and that there were supposed irregularities in vermiculture projects from her PDAF from 2010 and 2011.”

A “white paper” that has been circling around has been called, “a demolition job within the majority” by Minority floor leader Ronaldo Zamora.

DZBB reporter Rowena Salvation quoted Representative Binay on twitter saying, “Malalim ang relation ng making ama at ni Pangulong Aquino. (Trans: My father and President Aquino have a deep relationship). It is a friendship beyond politics.” According to Salvation, Congresswoman Binay added, “Kung totoong may anomalya sa aking PDAF, hindi dapat natamo ng Makati ang kaularang tinatamasa nito.” (Trans: If it is true that there are anomalies with my PDAF, then why has Makati progressed so far?)

Former Miss International Aurora Pijuan reacted by saying simply, “Thank you Ayala“.

One accusation levied against Representative Binay was the use of her Priority Development Assistance Fund for the National Livelihood Development Corporation. This corporation is allegedly linked to the pork barrel scam according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. In 2010, according to the Department of Budget and Management’s page on Priority Development Assistance Fund disbursements, Representative Abigail Binay provided 12 million pesos worth of financial assistance to National Livelihood Development Corp. for the implementation of livelihood projects in the 2nd District of Makati City.

The National Livelihood Development Corporation is described in the Department of Budget and Management website as to provide “vermiculture, composting training with backyard vegetables and herbs gardening in the 2nd District of Makati.” The Commission on Audit reported that implementing agencies described the National Livelihood Development Corporation as “fully reliant on the Office of the Legislators to supervise and ascertain project implementation.”

Congresswoman Abigail Binay was first elected to Congress in 2007.

COA’s question for Representative Binay

The Commission on Audit Report Special Audit report noted that between 2007 and 2009, Representative Binay allegedly gave the Non-Government Organization (NGO) Dr. Rodolfo A. Ignacio, Sr. Foundation, Inc. (DRAISFI) 8.1 million pesos. According to COA, DRAISFI NGO was not registered with SEC, but issued permits by the City Government of Quezon. COA in their report wrote that when they tried to confirm the validity of Ms. Binay’s signature for SARO (ROCS) 08-00189 (3.6 million), 07-07450 (4.500 million), her office, “did not reply to the team’s request for confirmation.”

Representative Binay was not the only one listed in the COA report as having sponsored DRAISFI. Senators Lapid (SAROS – D-08-03129, and 07-06623) and Enrile (SAROS 07-07221, and 08-03024), for example, were included in the report. Senator Enrile according to COA “Confirmed authenticity of signatures of his authorized representatives in all documents submitted by the NGO”. There were several others too in the list. Dr. Rodolfo A. Ignacio, Sr. Foundation, Inc. (DRAISFI) as per COA, confirmed receipt of P164.621 Million in livelihood projects provided for by various legislators.

COA also reported that Representative Binay had an excess of 47 million pesos priority allocation in 2008, but does not provide further color beyond that.

How Binay used her PDAF

The Department of Management website in 2009 listed “Financial assistance to Makati City for priority development programs and projects in the 2nd District of Makati City, pursuant to Special Provision No. 1, Priority Development Assistance Fund, RA 9524.” as the use of Representative Binay. It totaled 15 million pesos.

In 2011, Representative Binay’s PDAF grew to PHP70 million. She spent 11 million of that PDAF to “assist the City of Makati for the implementation of various Small and Medium Enterprises/Livelihood projects”. Another 10 million for the rehabilitation of Kalayaan Avenue. She also spent 13 million “for Scholarships w/ Asian Touch International Training Institute as recipient tech voc sch in the 2nd District of Makati City.”

In 2012, most of her PDAF were used toward schools in her district.

The DBM website does not provide further color.

Senator Estrada has been indicted on his alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund. Beyond COA’s report, Representative Abigail Binay, as of this writing, is not the subject of any investigation by the Department of Justice.

Contrast

It is interesting to view the two speeches. One is embattled— Estrada— with public opinion mostly going against him. Estrada’s like Revilla’s was fired up with bravado. The Estrada speech, much like Revilla’s was aimed at his base, and family. And posterity.

Binay’s is much more energetic reactionary response. It was aimed at the media, and her colleagues in the House who may now be picking sides for 2016. Mostly the latter.

Everyone likes a winner. The Binays want to make sure they’re viewed as such. None of the Binays are subject to an investigation related to the PDAF scam. Their ‘problem’ isn’t quite as large Estrada’s.

While both the COA report, and the DBM-PDAF pages do not quite paint a damning picture, it does paint some very interesting questions. Did Abigail Binay really spend 157.000 million pesos of public funds from 2007 to 2009? Where did it go? How much impact did those projects deliver? Can she explain the connection between her office, and National Livelihood Development Corporation, as well as Dr. Rodolfo A. Ignacio, Sr. Foundation, Inc.?

The Binay line seem to be: “We are not corrupt. Just look at Makati. If we were corrupt, why is Makati, ‘a success?’ We can do the same for the Philippines.”

How powerful is that message?

How much of Makati’s success can be attributed to the Ayalas?

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • Vsb1016

    We can bristle and be indignant till the crows fly home- If we cannot somehow break the hold of the crimino-showbiz elite on the electorate the likes of Bong Revilla, Jinggoy, Chavit , Lilia Pineda and the Binays will continue to thrive- netizens are middle class at worse so there has to be an effort to reach the 20- 25M masa voters who continue to vote their fantasies by electing panday and ERAP… The masa are so desperate that even the likes Osama Bin laden will be a shoo-in for Senate as long as he- shares the loot and gives patronage to the desperate ignorant masses.

    • cocoy

      The Binay name— like it or not to many of us online is synonymous to “matulongin”. Their line that “if they were corrupt, why would Makati be so successful” has traction.

  • I think 12 million for vegetable gardens in Makati is hilarious. I read how the farmers of Hacienda Luisita who received land are struggling because they have no money to actually plant anything. The financial people in Executive Branch need a “return on investment” wizard who can look at big expenditures like this and decide if the taxpayer is really who should be funding it, or if it is the highest and best use of funds. I pay taxes here and am incensed that my money is going to Makati for vegetables there. How many ways can we spell S T U P I D?

    • cocoy

      Unfortunately there is no mechanism to verify its impact. There are no feedback mechanisms built into law. So folks keep repeating the same mistakes expecting different results.