Palace defends fund releases to lawmakers using DA-A A +A
Monday, September 30, 2013
MALACANANG justified Monday the release of huge funds to some lawmakers using the government's savings known as the "disbursement acceleration program (DAP)."
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that the disbursements made to some senators last year after the impeachment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona were not bribes but part of the government's effort to improve spending to pump prime the economy.
He said that DAP came from savings and not part of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) nor a Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
"Well, let me just clear the air. The DAP is not limited to lawmakers. The DAP is open to all where we need to push infrastructure and social services projects. This is for all. The executive branch also uses a part of the DAP. Why? Because we have the savings. We use these savings to accelerate spending rather than not to use the savings," he said.
Under the Constitution, Lacierda said that it is legal for the President to allocate the government's savings for certain purposes.
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang, however, said that when President Benigno Aquino III suspended in the second semester of this year the pork barrel and later scrapping it in the 2014 budget, DAP for legislators was also suspended.
"According to the DBM (Department of Budget and Management), the release of DAP funds to lawmakers was suspended beginning the second half of this year. However, other projects under the DAP, which did not pass through lawmakers, have not been suspended," he said.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad issued a statement earlier citing the recipients of the DAP late last year. Those who received releases during that period and their corresponding amounts were: Senators Antonio Trillanes IV (October 2012–P50 million), Manuel Villar (October 2012–P50 million), Ramon Revilla (October 2012–P50 million), Francis Pangilinan (October 2012–P30 million), Loren Legarda (October 2012–P50 million), Lito Lapid (October 2012–P50 million), Jinggoy Estrada (October 2012–P50 million), Alan Cayetano (October 2012–P50 million), Edgardo Angara (October 2012–P50 million), Ralph Recto (October 2012–P23 million; December 2012–P27 million), Aquilino Pimentel III (October 2012–P25.5 million; November 2012–P5 million; December 2012–P15 million), Vicente Sotto III (October 2012–P11 million; November 2012–P39 million), Teofisto Guingona (October 2012–P35 million; December 2012–P9 million), Serge Osmena (December 2012–P50 million), then-Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile(December 2012–P92 million) and current Senate President Frank Drilon (December 2012–P100 million).
The Budget chief said that there were two earlier releases made in late August of that same year: Gregorio Honasan (P50 million) and Francis Escudero (P99 million).
No releases were made in 2012 to Senators Panfilo Lacson, Joker Arroyo, Pia Cayetano, Bongbong Marcos and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, he said.
In 2013, however, releases were made for funding requests from the office of Arroyo (February 2013–P47 million) and Pia Cayetano (January 2013–P50 million).
Meanwhile, Abad, in a statement on Monday, clarified that the P47 million released to projects endorsed by Senator Arroyo in February this year were not amendments made to the 2013 GAA, but was instead charged against the DAP.
The Budget chief made the statement in the wake of news reports quoting Arroyo as saying that the P47 million released to projects identified by his office were 2013 GAA amendments.
"Sen. Arroyo was correct in saying that these funds were not sourced from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), as he never made use of his PDAF allocations. However, the P47 million that the DBM released for projects endorsed by Sen. Arroyo's office was charged from DAP," Abad said.
In a February 4, 2013 letter to Sen. Franklin Drilon, then-Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Arroyo's Chief-of-Staff, Delfin Espiritu, Jr., requested P47 million to support funding requirements for infrastructure and medical assistance activities across the country.
"We want to counter the impression that DAP was misused to serve the Administration's interests, particularly with respect to the impeachment and ouster of the former Chief Justice. This is not true. The Senators made fund requests for projects that their respective offices identified, and when these requests were amply justified and supported by the proper documentary requirements, we released the funds to the implementing agencies that the Senators themselves identified," Abad said. (SDR/Sunnex)