DAP wasn’t used to bribe senators, says Aquino
AQUINO ANSWERS BACK President Benigno Aquino III responds to the plunder charges filed against him and other government officials over their alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) during a press conference at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Video by PTV 4
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday dismissed claims that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was used to bribe senators for the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“Mr. Corona was impeached in May. The releases, if I remember it right, were in October. So is there a bribe after the fact?” Aquino said in a televised press conference.
“Sana (I hope)…” the President said, stopping himself from elaborating.
Aquino also dared his critics to file an impeachment case against him if they believe that the DAP is really illegal.
“Let them pursue (the impeachment complaint) if they think they are right. But I just read the Constitution. (I have) authority to use savings and put it to other use as long as it is in the budget,” he said.
Referring to Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and former senator Joker Arroyo, the President said, “(The DAP) was supposedly allotted for projects already authorized by Congress. And since they were both senators, one would assume that they were supportive of the budget or they were not successful in thwarting the budget.”
Aquino also reacted to those calling him “Pork Barrel King,” saying he has worked hard to ensure that the budget is approved on time, instead of being reenacted, so there would be no excess funds that could be used for anomalous transactions.
“I have done a lot already. Then they’re going to call me Pork Barrel King?” he said.
Aquino reiterated that the DAP was created to address criticisms of underspending and to accelerate the “completion” of services and projects instead of being “spread out for many years.”
The Aquino administration has been receiving flak after Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada implied that additional pork barrel funds were released to senators as incentive for the conviction of Corona. It was later revealed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that the P50 million to P100 million in funds released to the senators months after the trial were part of the DAP.
Palace officials said the DAP was unlike the pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund since it is not a fund but a “mechanism” that allowed the pooling and realignment of savings from government agencies.
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