DBM chief to Lacson: Check your facts

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slammed Wednesday former Senator Panfilo Lacson on his allegation that the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, continues to exist with the transfer and realignment of allocation in other government agencies.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said that reallocating Department of Health (DOH) funds for three government hospitals would be in line with the Constitution and with the provisions of the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

“In the first place, Mr. Lacson gets a crucial detail wrong: these appropriations have not even been released to DOH. Their request for the re-prioritization of funds for health facilities is still awaiting the DBM’s approval. A simple call to our department for confirmation would have dispelled any uncertainty on the former Senator’s part,” he said.

The budget chief also said that the DBM continues to comply with the Supreme Court ruling on DAP.

“Contrary to his assertions, there is absolutely no trace of DAP in this year’s budget. The DBM and the House of Representatives worked closely to ensure that every fund release in 2015 will be consistent with the law. The General Provisions of the GAA are perfectly clear on when agencies can reallocate funds,” Abad said.

“Above all, we respect the high court’s ruling on DAP, and both the 2015 and proposed 2016 budget fully comply with that ruling,” he added.

Lacson claimed that the funds released to Bataan General Hospital (P30 million), Northern Mindanao General Hospital (P50 million), and Cagayan Valley Medical Center (P50 million) did not match their allotments in the 2015 GAA: P17 million and P360 million for Bataan General Hospital and Northern Mindanao General Hospital, respectively, and none for Cagayan Valley Medical Center.

He said that these adjustments were transfers of appropriation, thus proof of DAP.

But under the General Provisions of the 2015 GAA, heads of agencies are authorized to reallocate budget items, as long as they are within the same program, activity, or project (PAP), or allotment class—personnel services, maintenance and operating expenses, or capital outlays, DBM said.

This provision authorizes the DOH to request the reallocation of funds from one hospital to another under the same PAP, in this case the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), it said.

The Special Provisions of the DOH budget also allows the Secretary of Health to approve the modification of projects under the HFEP for policy considerations.

Agency data show that the reallocation request was made to allow provincial hospitals, given their larger capacity, to take the lead in procuring equipment for rural health units (RHUs) and barangay health stations (BHS), among others, the budget department further explained.

“We will of course act on the DOH proposal according to the laws and provisions that govern the use of public funds. We ask Mr. Lacson to contact us if he has any concerns about the budget so we can duly clarify these issues. We could spare the public all this misinformation if he only approaches us first,” Abad said. (SDR/Sunnex)

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