Thursday, September 15, 2005

NR0915:Former Budget Sec. Boncodin urged to speak up on GMA's PR expenditures

From the Office of Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran
News Release September 15, 2005

Solon urges Budget Sec. Emilia Boncodin to break her silence and speak on her knowledge of Pres. Arroyos’ spending for foreign PR and lobby groups

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the reasons to demand the immediate resignation and/or removal via People Power of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were now overflowing. He said that Macapagal-Arroyo has been acting behind the Filipino people’s back and utilizing public funds for services of neither of use or benefit for the Filipino people. Beltran said that reports that the Arroyo administration spent almost P100 million for American lobbyists and public relations consultants from September 2001 to October 2003 are strong, compelling reasons to demand that Arroyo immediately step down.

Beltran also said that former Budget and Finance secretary Emilia Boncodin should be summoned to reveal all her knowledge regarding these expenditures.

“We hope that Ms.Boncodin will break her silence and give light to all these bewildering reports that the Philippine government has been using up public funs for PR work. I don’t remember any of these expenses coming up in the budget deliberations in connection with the Office of the President and its adjunct agencies,” he said. “None of these expenses have been accounted for or audited.”

“Pres. Arrroyo has betrayed public trust time and again, and squandered taxpayers’ funds on such self-serving endeavors whose impact, however, are deleterious to the national economy. Not since Imelda Marcos has there been a public figure who wasted so much of the Filipino people’s taxes on such self-serving, self-aggrandizing efforts.” he said.

Beltran said that Macapagal-Arroyo’s compulsion for hiring foreign lobby firms and consultants has caused the country no only billions of pesos, but the results of the lobbying have been categorically damaging to the Philippines.

“All this money spent on PR work and the levels of corruption in the government has not gone down, and neither has efficiency gone up. Government employee morale is very low, and restiveness in the military continues to worsen,” he said. “Pres. Arroyo should be made accountable for all these expenses. She should also be compelled to explain at the proper legal venue how and why she showed little or no compunction against spending billions on public relations, and how all this money was released,” he said. “Her allies in Congress cannot and will not be able to get out of this massive can of worms that’s been recently opened. These reports should be verified and investigated at the soonest possible time.”

Beltran and fellow Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano have already filed HR 945 calling for an inquiry into the Philippine government’s $900,000 contract with US-bade firm Venable LLP to lobby for the charter change agenda.

Beltran said that Macapagal-Arroyo should be made to explain where the billions used for PR relations and supposed research and lobbying came from. According to reports, the PR firm paid the highest paid was Burson-Marsteller (a total of $1,245,828.23 or P66 million) for promoting investments and travel to the Philippines and developing a "public relations program including media relations and research," and "distributing economic materials" from November 2001 to October 2003. Rhoads-Weber Shandwick assisted the Philippine Embassy in Washington and its defense attaché in meetings with "members of legislative branch communities in regard to matters related to Asia-Pacific security issues and military cooperation." It was paid a total of $154,056.65 (P8.2 million).

“All the while Macapagal-Arroyo has been demanding that the Filipino people scrimp and save, exhorting them to do their share in solving the economic crisis; yet now it’s again being exposed that she herself has been wasting public funds on mere PR management and relations. Where are all the results of this PR work? What we have on hand is a presidency that’s notorious and widely unpopular with its constituency; an economy that going swiftly downhill; and a serious crisis in governance,” he said.#


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