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DAP funds still pork, says Lacson

/ 01:09 AM September 30, 2013

Former senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Pork barrel funds by any other name is still pork, a major source of hefty kickbacks for lawmakers.

“The people are well informed. They know what is pork when they see one,” former Sen. Panfilo Lacson said in an interview with dzBB radio on Sunday.

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Lacson said he considered the funds from the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP) as regular pork because it was taken from the budget and was on top of the P200-million annual allocation for senators.

“It’s just the nomenclature. From CIA (Congressional Initiative Allocation) to the CDF (Countrywide Development Fund) and which has metamorphosed into PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund). Whatever name you call it, that is still pork,” Lacson said.

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But he said the use of pork to sway lawmakers was worse in the previous administration where allies of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were showered not only with a flood of pork but also with wads of cash.

Lacson said that the DAP funds were “regular” items in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of any administration as these represented the billions in pesos of funds that were realigned or inserted by senators and representatives during the bicameral conference committee meeting to the two versions of the national budget.

“The projects bankrolled by these additional funds are either institutional or personal. Institutional if this was coursed through state agencies; personal if the insertions or realignments were made by the lawmakers themselves,” he said.

‘Some are luckier’

When asked why some the distribution of funds was unequal, Lacson replied, “Some are really luckier than others.”

He said that lawmakers would be tempted to engage in corrupt practices as long as they were given discretion to direct where taxpayer money should be used.

That is why he has proposed that all funds should be left at the discretion of state agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Health with the lawmakers retaining oversight function to their use.

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But Senate President Franklin Drilon said the DAP was primarily a “stimulus fund” meant to address criticisms in the first 18 months of the Aquino administration that economic growth was only half the 7-percent gross domestic product targeted by the government to make any wealth expansion meaningful to a broader base of Filipinos.

Drilon said that the P100-million DAP he received was used to build a convention center and widen roads in Iloilo as part of his home province’s bid to be one of the sites for the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference summit in 2015.

“The issue here is whether the funds were misused or not. I hope the public will listen to our explanation that we did not pocket everything,” he said.

Sen. Francis Escudero concurred with Drilon that DAP should not be classified as pork.

“The DAP was adopted in 2011 to address the lack of absorptive capacity by some agencies to implement projects,” he said, adding it was better to use these government savings than wait till the next year and risk paying higher costs for materials.

Both Escudero and Drilon were open to having the DAP released placed under a special review by the Commission on Audit.

Originally posted: 9:09 pm | Sunday, September 29th, 2013

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TAGS: disbursement allocation program, disbursement allocation program (DAP), Economy, Francis Escudero, Franklin Drilon, General Appropriations Act, government funds, National Budget, News, Panfilo Lacson, Philippine Government, Pork barrel, Priority Development Assistance Fund, pump-priming, Senate, State Budget and Taxes
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