Aquino speech on DAP draws mixed reactions-A A +A
Thursday, October 31, 2013
THE televised speech of President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday night defending the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) elicited mixed reactions from local officials in Davao City.
"Let me make it clear: The Disbursement Allocation Program is not pork barrel," he said in his message delivered from the President's Hall in Malacañang.
He said that of the DAP releases in 2011 and 2012, only nine percent was disbursed for projects suggested by legislators.
"The DAP is not theft. Theft is illegal. Spending through DAP is clearly allowed by the Constitution and by other laws. DAP is only a name for a process in which government can spend both savings and new additional revenues," Aquino said.
Regional prosecutor Antonio Arellano said he supports the DAP as "an effective pump priming tool of fiscal policy."
"It provides wide latitude of choices in the determination of the best menu for the optimum utilization of scarce public resources," Arellano said.
He said the issue on the constitutionality of the DAP is "a matter of the Supreme Court to resolve".
"I hope the Court will interpret the constitutional provision on the realignment in the budget in favor of better economics rather than settle with the rigid, restrictive and counter development constitutional construction in the exercise of its role in adjudicating constitutional economic issues," he said.
Lawyer Israelito Torreon, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Davao del Sur chapter president, said the televised statement was Aquino's way of "exercising his freedom of speech in the light of confirmed evidence that his political opponents are trying to muddle the issue concerning DAP."
"When one's honor is clearly maligned in public, it is everyone's right, including the President's, to defend himself in public. Self-defense in libel is an accepted principle under Philippine jurisdiction," Torreon said.
Councilor Leo Avila said the justification of the president is “appreciated.”
"It helps that the president express his position regarding DAP and other issues," Avila said.
As expected, Davao City third district Representative Isidro Ungab, who heads the Committee on Appropriations of the 16th Congress, agreed with the president.
"I believe that there are some people confusing the issue between the PDAF and DAP as well as the cases filed in the courts related to the misuse of PDAF," Ungab said.
However, Bayan Muna Representative Karlos Yzagani Zarate said the only way to avoid corruption is to abolish the DAP, which is just practically the same as PDAF or pork barrel since it could still lead the people in the government to abuse of people's funds.
"Ang usapin ng DAP ay ang paggastos ng executive ng pondo ng gobyerno an walang pahintulot ng Kongreso at sa mga projects na hindi nakasaad sa batas, ito ay unconstitutional! Hindi porket nakaambag daw ito sa GDP ay majustify na ang unconstitutional actions ni PNoy," Zarate said.
"Kung seryoso ang paghabol ng Aquino sa mga tiwali at corrupt, dapat isinali na rin nito ang mga kaalyado na sangkot din sa PDAF at iba pang scandals," he added.
Lawyer Fatima Irene Tero Adin-Purisima, Pagbabago SMR convenor, echoed the same feedback with Zarate.
She said: "The people are angry and anxious to see pork abolished. The statement of PNoy will just anger people more because it gave nothing but a deliberate attempt to justify PDAF and DAP and to cover for the government's inaction on the real issues that these (PDAF and DAP) are just becoming an avenue for corruption."
She said while the people get no concrete actions from the government to defeat corruption, the call to abolish all forms of pork stands.
Councilor Joselle Villafuerte said it would be better for Aquino to hold all DAP and PDAF in all forms since the people want nothing but transparency and accountability.
"Release the COA report, PNoy should start by cleaning his own "house" -all cabinet members, senators, congressmen allies and foes should resign or go on leave while investigation is ongoing. Otherwise, the senate inquiry will be just another way to get back at the opposition and has no credibility whatsoever," Villafuerte said.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 01, 2013.