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Drilon dares COA to file raps if DAP funds were misused

…Senate president says gov’t can’t afford to do away with DAP in spurring spending
/ 08:41 PM October 15, 2013

Senate President Franklin Drilon PRIB FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Saying it has become a necessary tool to spur government spending, Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Tuesday that the government could not afford to do away with the multi-billion-peso disbursement acceleration program (DAP) despite criticism that the DAP was unconstitutional.

“You cannot say tama na yung DAP (enough with the DAP).  Do not forget it’s an acceleration program. You have to have that flexibility,” Drilon said in an ANC interview, a transcript of which was provided by his staff.

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“You cannot say abolish DAP because in the first place it is a program necessary to spur spending,” Drilon added.

Drilon, who got P100 million worth of projects funded by the DAP in the latter half of 2012, as shown by data from the Department of Budget and Management, dared the Commission on Audit to audit the funds and initiate charges if they were misused.

“We did not get these funds; we nominated projects that can be implemented at that time. The issue was how it used. I can account for every single peso. The problem should be, ‘was this used properly? Did these go to fake NGOs?’ That should be the inquiry,” Drilon said.

Drilon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the weekend that purpose of the DAP as explained by the Department of Budget and Management was to start spending “appropriations which are not being spent.”

“Now, what is wrong with appropriations not being spent? When the gross domestic product is computed, a good portion of that may be that 20 percent would come from public spending and public spending is provided in the budget,” Drilon said.

Drilon said that if public spending was not met through infrastructure and other programs “then you affect your gross domestic product. You’re economy does not expand to the extent that you do not meet your spending program.”

“That is why there is that accelerated disbursement in order to catch up with public spending, especially on infrastructure,” Drilon said.

The issue of the DAP came to fore after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in a privilege speech waved an allegedly confidential and  private memo supposedly from Drilon asking that Estrada identify projects worth P50 million.

Estrada said it was an incentive after the Senate voted to convict the impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona in May 2012.

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The administration then identified the source of the fund as the DAP.  Budget Secretary Florencio Abad identified the senators that had projects funded by the DAP.

Sen. Francis Escudero, then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Drilon were said to have received the highest amounts allocated ranging from P96 million to P100 million

“We nominated the projects. What is important is: were these projects implemented properly?” Drilon said.

“I am asking COA to audit all of these DAP. If it is not properly used, then file appropriate charges,” Drilon added.

Drilon over the weekend said hundreds of millions of pesos that went to projects identified by lawmakers and funded by the administration’s disbursement acceleration program should still be considered programs of the executive branch.

Drilon made the remark as he explained the regularity of the DAP, saying the President has been allowed by the Constitution to realign items in the budget of executive branch.

Asked whether the DAP funds that went to the senators’ projects came from slow moving programs of the executive branch, Drilon said, “Yes, but the projects nominated by the senators are projects still in the executive branch.”

“For example, where a budget for a road is not being used, and is re-aligned, upon a senator’s request, to a hospital, the two projects are within the executive branch,” Drilon said in a text message.

Drilon said that unlike the multi-billion-peso priority development assistance fund, “there is no item, or separate fund, called DAP in the budget from which project funding can be sourced.”

“As the name describes it, DAP is a program to accelerate or catch up spending public program. It is based on the President’s constitutional power to realign items in the budget,” Drilon said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Drilon said DBM data showed that he has availed of only P293 million worth of projects funded by his P600-million priority development assistance fund entitlement from 2010 to 2013.

Senators are entitled to P200 million in PDAF a year.

“In the spirit of transparency and accountability, I am releasing all my PDAF availments since 2010. I had no PDAF releases during previous years. I was not given a single peso in 2005 and 2006,” Drilon said.

“The DBM data show that I have not fully availed of the PDAF allotted to me from 2010 to 2013. In fact, I have only utilized 48.83 percent of the PDAF allotted to me for projects from 2010 to 2013,” Drilon added.

“What is more important here is that the record shows that no single centavo of the PDAF allotted to me as a senator went to bogus non-government organizations,” Drilon said.

RELATED STORIES:

DAP-funded projects legal, Drilon insists

Drilon asks COA to audit funds coursed through DAP

SC urged to stop Aquino’s DAP

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TAGS: 1987 Constitution, Benigno Aquino III, constitutional law, Department of Budget and Management, Disbursement Acceleration Program, executive department, Franklin Drilon, fund realignment, government funds, National Budget, Office of the President, Philippine Congress, Philippine president, Pork barrel, Priority Development Assistance Fund, Senate, State Budget and Taxes
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