Allies back Aquino on realignment of savings to DAP-A A +A
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
MANILA -- Allies of President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday defended the realignment of government savings to the Budget Department's Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), saying that the supposed illegality of this move cannot be used as a ground for impeachment.
Marikina City Representative Romero Quimbo, a member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), said the Constitution allows President Aquino to use the savings for programs that are aligned with the administration's priorities.
Senator Sonny Angara raised the same point. Angara cited Article VI, Section 25 of the Constitution which states that "no law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President...may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations."
"Savings can be augmented for existing items in the budget which allows for considerable leeway to the executive to realign savings to various departments and programs," Angara said in a text message.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago earlier said that what the Constitution allows are fund transfers, only if there are savings, meaning that the project was completed, and yet the appropriation was not exhausted; but there are no savings if a project was merely deferred.
Santiago pointed out that if the DAP funds were taken from alleged slow-moving projects and no savings were generated, then the DAP implemented by Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad is illegal.
In a press statement, Abad said DAP releases are sourced from the overall savings of the national government, which includes unprogrammed funds generated from windfall revenue collections, unreleased appropriations from slow-moving projects, terminated programs based on program evaluation of Zero-Based Budgeting studies, as well as the withdrawal of unobligated or unused allotments already released to government agencies.
Quimbo meanwhile said that if the DAP was to be used as basis to impeach Aquino, then past government officials should have been ousted from office, too.
"It (realignment of savings) is a practice done for many years and not just today... Impeachment has no basis in law and in fact, if the use of savings was impeachable then the last four presidents, five SC Chief Justices and Comelec, COA and CSC commissioners should have been impeached too," Quimbo argued.
"What's more ironic is that any impeachment complaint against the President would be the most ironic thing. He is the reason why these nefarious activities have been uncovered and are being prosecuted tapos siya ang sasampahan! Impeachment is doomed," Quimbo said.
Aquino said critics of the DAP are free to file an impeachment case against him.
"Isulong nila kung palagay nila nasa tama sila," he told reporters.
Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon, a member of the House opposition bloc, for his part, said that the DAP funds issue only shows that the "true king of pork" is the president.
Ridon is referring to the controversial "pork barrel" funds of senators and congressmen. This is more formally known as the priority development assistance funds (PDAF). The House of Representatives has already agreed to scrap this in the proposed national budget for 2014 following the public's outrage over its reported misuse. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)