Palace exec admits ‘problem’ in ‘disbursement acceleration program’
BALI, Indonesia – A Malacañang official admitted Saturday that there was a “problem” with the system that allowed legislators to direct projects using government savings released through the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program.
“I think it’s very clear there’s a problem,” Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang told reporters here Saturday on the eve of President Aquino’s arrival for the 21st Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
But Carandang defended the two-year-old DAP, saying Cabinet members involved in the implementation of projects under the program would show in the “coming days and weeks” that P72 billion in government savings had been generally “well-spent.”
“A lot of these went to social services, a lot of these went to infrastructure and I think the benefits of that would be clearly explained and demonstrated by members of the Cabinet,” he said.
Carandang maintained that DAP projects coursed through legislators had been suspended in the wake of reports that part of the savings had been misused or gone to fake foundations.
“We’ve conceded. We see that there are things that need to be fixed and we’re fixing them,” he said.
“I want to be fair to everybody. There appears to have been some problems in the allocation of savings to projects identified by some lawmakers. As a result of that, I think [Budget] Secretary [Florencio] Abad has announced that that portion of the program has been suspended,” he added.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday reported that four senators had sought the release of a total of P400 million to the Department of Agrarian Reform in November 2011, a month after the Department of Budget and Management announced the DAP.
Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., and Vicente Sotto III later asked the DBM to realign the amount to the National Livelihood Development Corp., as shown by copies of letters obtained by the Inquirer.
The four senators then wrote NLDC president Gondelina Amata recommending that their respective projects be implemented by certain foundations. These groups were later linked to Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Sotto, Revilla, and Marcos have all denied asking for such amounts and channeling them to bogus foundations, saying their signatures on the letters might have been forged.
“Certainly, there have been some issues as far as some lawmakers attempt to allocate some of those funds, but that issue is being addressed,” Carandang said. “There will be many side issues but at the end of the day, no one can say that we’re not doing what has to be done to correct this problem.”
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