SOMETHING positive has come out of the furor over the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and it can be gleaned from President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday. It seems like the President has calmed down after his outburst directed at the Supreme Court (SC) weeks earlier.
In his speech, PNoy asked two things from Congress: one, the passage of a supplemental budget for this year; two, the passage of a Joint Resolution “that will bring clarity to the definitions and ideas still being debated upon” and to the “other issues” that he said only Congress “can shed light on.”
The supplemental budget is meant to provide funds for important projects what were stalled because funding for these was originally sourced from DAP. The President did not say what he wants Congress to define but it should be about government savings.
Malacañang has filed a motion for reconsideration with the SC following its ruling by a vote of 13-0 that declared portions of the DAP as unconstitutional. But it seems prepared to move on considering that many analysts do not see any chance that the move would succeed.
Related to this, the Palace submitted to Congress a proposed budget amounting to P2.6 trillion for 2015. The budget is supposedly already free from the elements of DAP and no longer includes allocations for port barrel. The SC shot down last year the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which is a pork barrel variation.
Members of the House of Representatives have promised that their deliberations on the budget will factor in the SC rulings on the DAP and PDAF.
That is no assurance, though, that another version of the pork would not be introduced in the budget, although hidden.
Even then, the raising of questions on the DAP and PDAF has forced both Malacañang and Congress to revisit old budgeting practices with the goal of either scrapping some traditional entries or, in the case of DAP, clarifying the rules. This is expected to improve the budgeting process.
This wouldn’t have happened without the DAP and PDAF controversies exploding in our midst.