DAP(at) nga ba?-A A +A
The Point Being
Friday, October 4, 2013
SO APPARENTLY, the P50M that Senator Jinggoy Estrada included in his September 25 exposé wasn’t from the Priority Development Allocation Fund (PDAF) but from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The DAP was instituted by President Noynoy Aquino in 2011 reportedly as a pump-priming measure to foster activity at a time when the economy was experiencing a slow period.
Allegedly P1.8B of the P85.5B DAP money was used to bribe lawmakers to support the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012. Those who voted for the impeachment received PhP50M around the time of the proceedings, while no releases were made to those who were not in favor.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, acknowledged ally of PNoy, received P100M twice the amount; and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Chiz Escudero received nearly as much.
Going by these facts it would seem that the DAP was used in this particular instance to influence the behavior of the legislative and advance the political agenda of the executive branch. That practice of using some form of economic reward to manipulate official acts is associated with the pork barrel system, which has again come under fire from citizens in recent times.
Other legislators like Sen. Miriam Santiago and Atty. Joker Arroyo, former senator, have questioned the legality of the DAP, saying the executive branch has arrogated unto itself the power of the purse by spending resources that have not been allocated through legislation.
Malacañang has countered that the DAP isn’t illegal, citing the constitutional provision that allows the President to use savings, realigned and unprogrammed funds to augment government budget. However, Constitutional law specialist Fr. Joaquin Bernas SJ has been quoted as saying that the augmentation only applies to items already existing in the budget and does not mean augmenting the budget to fund new items.
Already, there are talks of impeaching the President for having instituted the DAP. Although former senator Joker Arroyo simply called for its scrapping laying the fault for the DAP at the feet of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). He also cautioned resorting to another impeachment process, arguing that it should not be trivialized.
Malacañang’s counterclaims to the pork charge have been feeble compared to its response to charges that the DAP was illegal. It mostly just denied that the DAP given to legislators were a bribe. If Malacañang’s views were to prevail, the DAP cannot be considered the President’s pork barrel because it has been given to both the departments under the executive branch and the legislative as well.
Interestingly though, the DAP isn’t generating as big a howl as the P10B PDAF that got cornered by the Napoles group and the COA audit findings of VILP and PDAF from 2007 to 2009.
One wonders if it’s because there are no findings that indicate that one individual or group personally gained from the transactions and flaunted such through their lifestyles the way the Napoleses did. Yet. The COA is reportedly in the course of auditing the DAP.
But graft and corruption are not necessarily the most objectionable features of pork barrels. To me it’s the manipulation and/or collusion of one group by/with another using public resources as leverage to perpetuate elite interest.
I think that a few questions will have to be answered to reckon kung dapat nga ba may DAP:
* Is it legal? Does the policy environment warrant its creation?
* Did it have to be created in the first place? Could there have been less contentious and equally effective measures to achieve the same objectives?
* Has it been used to advance pork-like objectives?
* Has its use been marred by graft and corruption?
Because the highest office of the land is at the heart of the DAP controversy and the situation is not like the PDAF Napoles case where whistleblowers stepped forward of their own accord, dramatic revelations might not be forthcoming concerning the DAP.
Still, we citizens can find ways of having the above questions and other questions answered. And we should be prepared to discuss and make up our minds whether dapat nga ba may DAP.
Isip-isip din. We should make time.
(Email feedback to email@example.com)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 05, 2013.