President Benigno "P.Noy" Aquino III described the situation using strong words in his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA):
“This report is merely a glimpse of our situation,” the President said. “It is not the entire picture of the crises we are facing. The reality was hidden from our people, who seem to have been deliberately obfuscated on the real state of our nation.”
He described as “revolting” the manner the Arroyo administration did business.
“Money was there only to be wasted. You have heard how the public coffers were squandered,” he said in his speech in Filipino to a packed Batasang Pambansa and a nationwide radio and television audience.
Now Budget Undersecratary Mario Relampagos clarifies that there is "nothing illegal" in past government spending under former President Gloria Arroyo. There was, instead, an "imbalance of the pattern of spending of the government".
Relampagos pointed out that from January to June this year, the government exceeded the budget deficit ceiling by P51 billion because one, there was revenue shortfall of P23 billion, and two, the government overspent by P27 billion.
With P23 billion revenue shortfall, then prudence dictates that the government should have calibrated its spending, he said.
"The more important thing there is whether it was justified given the fiscal situation at that time you have to calibrate your releases against the fiscal situation," he said.
So much for "shock" and "awe".
It also does not take an expert to see some of the motives for this latest of Aquino Administration backpedaling. As Winnie Monsod points out, Messrs Cesar Purisima and Mar Roxas who are now key figures in the Yellow Army themselves had a hand in fiscal management at one time or another during Arroyo's rule.
Like in most of his previous gaffes, we again are in the midst of the pathetic sight of a President eating his words. There is no apology in Relampagos's words. Only "clarification".