Senators willing to identify where their DAP funds went-A A +A
Thursday, July 10, 2014
MAJORITY of the senators who received the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds expressed willingness to identify where it went and the projects funded by the DAP funds.
In a press conference, Senator Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito admitted receiving the P10 million when he was still a member of the House of Representatives but maintained that he is innocent as he clarified that no less than House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte personally offered to him the DAP funds without him asking for it.
Ejercito said Belmonte did not explain that it came from DAP as he further stated that "no one knows that time that it was illegal"
"The first time I heard about such an animal, I mean this DAP is when I was here in the Senate already," the senator said.
He admitted that he was excited to have an additional P10 million that he can bring to his district in San Juan the reason why he did not bother to ask anymore where it came from.
Ejercito said President Benigno Aquino III and the architect of the DAP should be the ones answerable and not the legislators who accepted the DAP fund when it was voluntarily given to lawmakers two weeks after the approval of the impeachment complaint against then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
"Ang talagang author ng DAP is the Executive. Ang responsibility of the legislators is to make sure na talagang ginamit ang DAP sa tama but kung DAP funds ay ipinasok kay Janet Napoles, I think these legislators will have a lot of explaining to do," Ejercito said.
Ejercito revealed that it was one of the staff of Belmonte who notified them that they will be getting P10 million on top of their P70-million Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).
"The burden is on Malacañang. Why don't they release the list of DAP recipients. It is a far cry from the thrust of good governance wherein transparency is one of the factors," Ejercito said.
Ejercito said that until now, Malacanang is not lifting a finger on the alleged names of those who are recipients of DAP funds, which he said is malicious considering that they have acted fast in releasing the names of legislators allegedly linked with businesswoman Janet Napoles.
Ejercito, is the half-brother of Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of three senators charged with plunder and graft in the pork barrel case who is presently detained at the Philippine National Police custodial center.
Earlier, Ejercito said he is more than willing to return the P10 million DAP funds if the Supreme Court will say so.
Senator Sergio Osmena III, for his part, admitted receiving P50 million out of the P1.1-billion DAP funds released to 19 senators in December 2012.
Osmena said the DAP was used for the rehabilitation of local roads, highways and bridges in Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Caraga Region.
Osmena said he is willing to show proof as he challenged those questioning him to check everything and validate it with proper government agencies.
Senator Pia Cayetano claimed that the supposed DAP funds she received in 2012 did not come from the Palace scheme but from the normal process of amending the budget.
Cayetano said her receipt of P50 million came from the supposed "amendments" she introduced during the budget deliberations.
"The senators, in 2012, received a letter where we're told to 'make your amendment' worth P50 million and this is very normal because during the budget process, anywhere from August to December. Those were the periods where we really scrutinize the budget," she said.
Cayetano repeatedly claimed that at that time, she knew nothing about the DAP.
Cayetano even added that there was even "pressure" at that time to expedite the deliberations since they were already nearing the end of the year and have not yet finished the debates.
The senator further said that failure to pass the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) before end of December would mean an automatic re-enactment of the existing money measure.
This was the reason, Cayetano said, why Senator Franklin Drilon, who was then chairman of the committee on finance, asked her to submit the necessary amendment to expedite the debates.
"The funds went to my pet projects. It did not go to anyone personal, no NGOs (non-government organizations). They are all government agencies," said Cayetano.
The P50 million DAP fund of Senator Edgardo Angara went to five infrastructure projects, which contracts were awarded by the Department of Public Work and Highway through open and transparent bidding.
Three of the five projects went to provinces in dire need of development funds and infra upgrading: Abra, Antique and Cagayan. The remaining two (one for flood control and the other for road widening) went to Quezon City projects that were deemed as vital by the city's engineering district. The five projects, according to the DPWH, had been satisfactorily completed," Angara's press statement said.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said he is willing to open the books if needed while Senator Francis Escudero said he can account every single cent of his DAP funds.
Senate President Drilon said there is nothing wrong about DAP if it went into a real project that is meant to benefit the Filipino people.
Drilon and Escudero and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile got P100 million from DAP while the rest received P50 million each.
Those senators who admitted receiving DAP funds include; Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Manuel Villar, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Ralph Recto, Vicente Sotto III, Gregorio Honasan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Teofisto Guingona III and Francis Pangilinan.
While those who did not get any DAP funds were Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Senator Joker Arroyo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The said three senators did not vote for the impeachment of Corona while former Senator Panfilo Lacson who voted for Corona's impeachment maintained his stand to refuse PDAF and DAP funds in 2012. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)