Facebook page “Blessed Be Philippines” misleadingly claims that Otso Diretso bets are linked to certain issues associated with the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.
The said page posted a photo claiming certain issues against Otso Diretso candidates; these include supposed anomalies in the use and distribution of donations and the rehabilitation fund intended for those affected by supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013, alleged deaths related to the Dengvaxia mass vaccination, so-called corruption of PhilHealth funds, death of 44 personnel under the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP), purported increase of membership in the New People’s Army (NPA), alleged election fraud in 2016, illegal drug trade, and killing of farmers.
Of the eight senatoriable cadidates from Otso Diretso, only Mar Roxas held a position under former President Aquino’s administration that can be substantially linked to two of the said issues, being the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
While Roxas’ term as DILG Secretary was marred by controversy due to allegations of fund misuse related to the rehabilitation after Yolanda hit the country, the Commission on Audit (COA) reports are said to have cleared him of corrupting the misplaced Yolanda funds as reported by Manila Bulletin and ABS-CBN. COA’s website, however, is inaccessible as of posting.
The Official Gazette, the official journal of the Republic of the Philippines, has a dedicated page for Typhoon Yolanda updates. In the page under “Official Fund Releases of Government Agencies,” the Official Gazette provided a link to an article, “DILG clarifies issues on DRRM fund (October 12, 2015).” In the article, DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero clarified reports regarding the “calamity fund” under former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas.
ABS-CBN News also conducted a fact-check regarding Roxas’ statement about the PhP 4B allocated to the DILG for rehabilitation projects and the progress of projects under it. According to the fact-check, as of January 2016, the first batch of Recovery Assistance on Yolanda projects is already 95% complete, while the second is at 42%.
President Duterte has tagged Roxas on the issue of the Mamasapano clash, saying that “he wasted the lives” of 44 SAF members. However, Roxas has already said that he and PNP’s officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina were kept out of loop from the operation plans. Reports on Senate hearings and parallel government investigations also reflected the same findings.
On the other hand, here are the occupations of the Otso Diretso candidates during the Aquino administration (2010-2016):
Alejano served the government during the Aquino administration, from 2013 to 2016, and currently under the Duterte administration, from 2016 to 2019, both as the Representative of Magdalo Para Sa Pilipino Party List. However, there is nothing that directly links him to said issues.
Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV
Bam Aquino, according to his curriculum vitae, served the Aquino administration from 2013 to 2016 as chairman of the Senate Committees on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship, and Youth. Despite his service during the Aquino administration as senator up to the present, there is nothing said about his direct link to the cited issues.
During 2010-2016, Diokno did not work for the Aquino administration but was part of the academe. He also privately practiced law and was involved in advocacy work during the said period. He was founding dean of the De La Salle University College of Law established in 2009. Diokno also served as a part of law advocacy group and current chairman of Free Legal Assistance Group.
While Gutoc served as an Aquino appointee, being the representative of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the Assembly for Women, there is nothing that directly links her to any of the said issues. She was also the Director for Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines from 2008 to 2012.
Hilbay served as Solicitor General from 2014 to 2016. Said issues are beyond his scope and he had no participation in the decision-making process related to said issues.
Macalintal practiced as an election lawyer during the said period. After which, he also represented Vice President Leni Robredo in her electoral protest case.
Lorenzo Erin Tañada
Elected as Representative of Quezon’s 4th District (2004-2013) and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (2004-2013), Tañada was part of the Congress during the Aquino Administration. However, there is no substantial link between his legislative work and the said issues.
DZUP is part of the fact-checking collaborative project, Tsek.ph, which is spearheaded by the UP Department of Journalism.
ABS-CBN News. Fact check: 93% of DILG projects for Yolanda completed? October 12, 2016. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://news.abs-cbn.com/halalan2016/focus/03/20/16/fact-check-93-of-dilg-projects-for-yolanda-completed.
ABS-CBN News. Roxas’ campaign chief thanks Lacson for belying Yolanda fake news. March 28, 2019. Accessed May 13, 2019 https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/28/19/roxas-campaign-chief-thanks-lacson-for-belying-yolanda-fake-news.
Cruz, RG. “The Mamasapano tragedy: What we know so far”. ABS-CBN News, March 06 2015. Accessed at https://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/03/05/15/mamasapano-tragedy-what-we-know-so-far.
Department of the Interior and Local Government. DILG clarifies issues on DRRM fund. October 12, 2015. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://dilg.gov.ph/news/DILG-clarifies-issues-on-DRRM-fund/NC-2015-1353.
de Santos, Jonathan. “Despite Senate and PNP findings, Duterte blames Mar for Mamasapano”. Philstar, April 18, 2019. Accessed at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/04/18/1911063/despite-senate-and-pnp-findings-duterte-blames-mar-mamasapano.
Manila Bulletin. Mar Roxas’ camp thanks Sen. Lacson for clearing him from Yolanda fund mess. March 28, 2019. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/03/28/mar-roxas-camp-thanks-sen-lacson-for-clearing-him-from-yolanda-fund-mess/.
Manila Times. Roxas hit over P7B fund mess at DILG. March 17, 2016. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.manilatimes.net/roxas-hit-over-p7b-fund-mess-at-dilg/251073/.
Official Gazette. Typhoon Yolanda. Accessed May 13, 2019. http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/laginghanda/updates-typhoon-yolanda/.
Romero, Alexis. “Duterte: Roxas wasted lives of 44 SAF commandos”. Philstar, April 18, 2019. Accessed at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/04/18/1910964/duterte-roxas-wasted-lives-44-saf-commandos.
Salaverria, Leila B. “Roxas: ‘Who was on top of SAF dangerous mission?’” Inquirer.net, February 11, 2015. Accessed at https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/672112/roxas-who-was-on-top-of-saf-dangerous-mission.
Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV Biography and Curriculum Vitae. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.senate.gov.ph/senators/sen_bio/aquino_bam_bio.asp?fbclid=IwAR35X40UDULvH978U9JCU3qQwNeoEE18EbrnJBkQa0ToJd3s9uDBQKMHKfs.