P598-B funds from 2012 eyed for ‘Yolanda’ rehabilitation plan | Inquirer News

P598-B funds from 2012 eyed for ‘Yolanda’ rehabilitation plan

Typhoon survivors go on their daily business amidst the rubble Saturday Nov. 23, 2013 at Tacloban city, Leyte province in central Philippines. AP

MANILA, Philippines — Does President Aquino have to look far for additional funds for the government’s massive post-supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) rehabilitation effort?

The President is set to ask Congress to amend the P2.268-trillion national budget for next year to accommodate the cost of rehabilitation in areas devastated by the monster typhoon and other recent disasters.


On his own, Senate President Franklin Drilon has filed his version of a supplemental budget worth P14.6 billion.

But budget documents show that the Aquino administration had as much as P598.28 billion in available funds as of 2012. The amount consisted of P65.62 billion in overall savings, P152.82 billion in unprogrammed funds, P163.65 billion in continuing appropriations, and P216.18 billion in unused appropriations.


The pooled savings — on principle a source of funds for the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) — did not include some P71.4 billion in “earmarked revenues” such as proceeds from the Malampaya fund and the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC) that year.

In 2011, total savings amounted to P558.06 billion, which was the same source of the P143.7-million fund released by the executive branch to the Commission on Audit, an independent constitutional body.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who is facing plunder charges in connection with the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, revealed the fund transfer to COA during budget deliberations Tuesday.

COA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan admitted that her agency got the amount, a portion of which had been used to purchase new vehicles.

Based on budget documents, the fund was specifically taken from the government’s overall savings worth P67.47 billion in 2011.

The amount released to COA was easily dwarfed by the P19.72-billion fund made available by the executive department to government corporations in the form of “budgetary support.”

A total of P16.74 billion was “transferred to” the Department of Public Works and Highways, and another P4.54 billion to the Department of Agriculture.


Even the Office of the President got P17.94 million and Congress P45 million in additional funds from overall savings that year. The P5-billion calamity fund then also got an additional P1 billion.

The Department of Budget and Management’s practice of pooling or withdrawal of “unused” appropriations by other government agencies was based on National Budget Circular No. 541, which Secretary Florencio Abad released on July 18, 2012.

The circular allowed Abad and his agency to collect “unobligated allotments of agencies with low levels of obligations as of June 20, 2012, both for continuing and current allotments.”

Three months later on Oct. 10, Abad released another circular (No. 543) instructing heads of agencies to produce “budget execution documents” (BEDs) containing their respective “financial and physical plans/targets” for 2013.

“Said procedures shall be institutionalized to expedite the implementation of priority programs and projects to ensure the timely delivery of the necessary and crucial services to the public,” Abad said in the circular.

On Jan. 2 this year, Abad issued another circular (No. 545) reminding agency heads that “any unreleased appropriations and unobligated allotments shall automatically lapse at the end of 2013.”

Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in a scathing speech against the pork barrel system last Oct. 24, said the “twin circulars, needless to say, are indicative of a fiscal dictatorship by the DBM.”

Unreleased appropriations refer to funds authorized for spending but remain with the national treasury. Unobligated allotments are those that have been released by the DBM but are yet to be spent by a particular agency.

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TAGS: Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, Department of Budget and Management, Florencio B. Abad, Franklin Drilon, General Appropriations Act, government funds, government savings, National Budget, News, Philippines, Rehabilitation plan, Senate, Typhoon Yolanda
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