Palace shows Joker Arroyo’s letter requesting P47M
Malacañang on Monday said it merely accommodated a request for P47 million for pet projects in Bicol from Sen. Joker Arroyo, who slammed the Palace for suggesting that he was among 20 senators who received pork barrel funds after the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona last year.
Presidential spokeman Edwin Lacierda showed reporters on Monday a letter written by Arroyo, who has never availed himself of his pork barrel as senator and congressman, to Senate President Franklin Drilon, then chair of the Senate finance committee, seeking the amount.
“He wrote: ‘This is to request for the release of P47 million of my 2012 amendments as shown in the attached list.’ Remember this was written on Feb. 4, 2013, and he was referring to the 2012 amendments,” Lacierda said.
“Sen. Joker Arroyo should have known that the budget had already been approved on Dec. 15 (2011). So the 2012 amendments he was citing were not approved by his peers because, as a matter of policy, the congressional leaders acceded to our policy of no insertions. Because if you make insertions, these will distort other projects that have been set,” Lacierda added.
Lacierda, however, stressed that Malacañang was aware of Arroyo’s self-proclaimed policy of not using his pork barrel and that the projects he wanted to be bankrolled in his letter request were “very laudable”—three two-story buildings of eight classrooms in Iriga, Baao, and Buluang in Camarines Sur province as well as financial assistance for indigent patients. Each building cost P10 million.
“To accommodate these projects—laudable projects—they utilized the consolidated savings from the DAP (Disbursement Allocation Program),” Lacierda said.
Arroyo did not reply to the Inquirer’s two calls.
Bribery at Palace doorstep
In a statement on Sunday, Arroyo blasted Malacañang for attempting to deceive the public by lumping him together with 19 senators who received additional pork barrel funds totaling P1.2 billion a few months after the Senate voted to convict Corona for dishonesty in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
“The accusation that Malacañang ‘rewarded’ the senators who voted to convict (Corona) puts Malacañang on a slippery slope, placing the charge of at least impropriety, if not outright bribery, right at the presidential doorstep,” said Arroyo, who voted against Corona’s conviction on charges of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
Arroyo insisted that his request for funding was from the General Appropriations Act, not from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.
Lacierda justified the creation of the DAP as a response to criticisms that the government was not spending enough in 2011 when economic growth was only half of the targeted 7-percent annual gross domestic product as government agencies, notably corrupt agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways, were still in the midst of “cleansing” programs.
Fund to pump economy
“We needed to accelerate spending, that’s why we created the DAP to induce infrastructure and social services spending. We have the authority to use the savings. The Constitution provides the basis for the President to spend the government’s savings,” said Lacierda, citing Article VI, Section 25, Subsection 5 of the 1987 Constitution and Section 39 and 49, Chapter V, Book VI of the 1987 Administration Code.
Lacierda pointed out that aside from lawmakers, government agencies and local government units were also beneficiaries of additional funds from the DAP.
“The DAP is not limited to lawmakers. The DAP is open to all where we need to push infrastructure and social services projects. This is for all. The executive branch also uses a part of the DAP. Why? Because we use savings to accelerate spending rather than not to use the savings,” said Lacierda.
He said most of the DAP was funneled through agencies.
Lacierda also disputed claims that the DAP was extra pork showered by the President on his favored lawmakers.
“The only reason why it is being connected now (to the impeachment trial of Corona) is because of what Sen. Jinggoy Estrada showed. But again, Senator Jinggoy was very emphatic. It was not a bribe. He stood by his vote to convict Chief Justice Corona,” Lacierda said.
“Whether you voted or not against Corona … their PDAFs were released,” he said.
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