Joker Arroyo, Santiago: Release of DAP funds illegal | Inquirer News

Joker Arroyo, Santiago: Release of DAP funds illegal

/ 01:59 AM October 02, 2013

Former Sen. Joker Arroyo and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Tuesday described as scandalous and illegal Malacañang’s release of millions of pesos in public funds to senators after the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona in May last year.

The two senators, who voted for Corona’s acquittal, said that the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was neither provided for under the General Appropriations Act nor in any of the country’s laws.

“This DAP is a creation of the Department of Budget and Management and being a creation only of the department, that is illegal and disbursements of DAP would also be illegal. [The DBM] has no business issuing or forming this DAP because they cannot do that without a supporting law,” Arroyo said at a news conference in the Senate.


“The DAP involves money so to disburse that they must have the authority (to do so). Nowhere in any of our laws and any of our general appropriations act does it appear that DAP was created at all with the sanction and support of Congress,” Arroyo added.


On whether the illegal disbursements could result in an impeachment complaint filed against President Aquino, Arroyo said, “I wouldn’t want to anticipate what would happen but ask them first so that we will know exactly our response.”

“We won’t let this pass. On my part it is unfortunate that I’m no longer a senator but this is a crime—releasing money without any legal support,” Arroyo said.

“How many amounts were issued by the DAP, we do not know up to now. But this much I can say. At the height of the impeachment trial about the month of April, over P500 million was taken from the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund)… and given to I think 11 senators,” Arroyo said, citing DBM posts on its website.

“After the impeachment, another P50 million was given to whoever I don’t know… That was about the month of August to December.  Where did this come from? From DAP?”

Palace ‘student council’

Arroyo, however, wouldn’t comment on whether the April release of the PDAF to 11 senators and the DAP were meant to influence the Senate vote in Corona’s impeachment trial.


“I want President Aquino to succeed for his own sake but more important for the country’s sake. The country is faced at present with so many problems. You have the China problem, you have the Mindanao problem, you have the Napoles problem, you have the DAP problem,” Arroyo said.

“Those are issues that cannot be solved overnight. That is why, as I’ve said, the idea is to help. The problem is this. That student council in Malacañang, instead of helping the President, perpetuates a system where they promote quarreling and conflict,” he said.

Arroyo said that “anyone who disagrees with the government is tagged as nonconformist and therefore an enemy of the administration.”

Arroyo challenged the media to be watchful of the budget process especially during the period of amendments.

“Look at the transcripts or the journals whether there is a recording of the amendments. Zero. I dare say this because I was there. [There was] none. Yet what was disposed of were millions of pesos. Trillions,” Arroyo said.

“This is serious we cannot just let it go,” Arroyo added.

DAP illegal

In a statement, Santiago described the “scandalous DAP” as illegal, “because it was not contained in the 2011 or 2012 budgets and because alleged savings were used to augment new budget items which was not previously authorized by Congress.”

The former trial judge said the DAP violated the constitutional provision that said: “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, . . . may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”

Santiago said that the Constitution “allows fund transfers, only if there are savings, meaning that the project was completed, and yet the appropriation was not exhausted; but there are no savings if a project was merely deferred.”

She said it appeared that DAP funds were taken from alleged slow-moving projects. “If so, no savings were generated, and therefore DAP is illegal,” she said.

“The first issue is that DAP was not taken from savings. The second issue is that DAP was not used to augment items in the budget that were previously authorized by Congress. The alleged savings were used to augment new budget items not previously authorized by Congress,” Santiago said.

The senator said the DBM should have sought the approval of Congress, “because under the Constitution it is Congress that exercises the power of the purse.”

President Aquino in 2011 reacted to criticisms that his administration did not implement government programs fast enough. As a response, Santiago said, President Aquino authorized the DBM to set aside P85.5 billion for the DAP without getting prior congressional approval.

Questions for COA

“The budget secretary released a list of the beneficiaries of the DAP.  The variance of the beneficiaries—lumping together P10 billion to the National Housing Authority, with P50 million for every senator in 2012—indicates that the DAP is nothing more or less than the huge pork barrel of the President, spent without the participation of Congress.”

Santiago said that she hoped that the Commission on Audit, in responding to her prior letter requesting a DAP audit, would answer the following questions: How were the new budget items arrived at? Where did all these monies go? Which were the provinces, cities and towns? Who were the service providers? Were they chosen through competitive bidding? And who were the real beneficiaries?

She added that to prevent the DAP from destroying the congressional power of the purse, Congress should pass a law patterned after the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of the United States.

“Under American law, if the President discovers an enacted appropriation which has not been spent, the President cannot just cancel the appropriation. The President must first ask Congress for a rescission, meaning a cancellation or cut-back of appropriated funds for a project no longer considered necessary,” Santiago said.

“The President cannot act by himself alone. Such a law would restore the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches.”

Santiago said President Aquino, when he was still a senator, proposed a Budget Control and Impoundment Act. “If he doesn’t mind, I will simply refile it in the Senate, with an explanatory note that it was originally filed by President Aquino,” she said.

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She said the DBM was “chipping away at the legislative power of the purse by fiddling with the budget.”

TAGS: Joker Arroyo, Pork barrel, State budget

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