Abad: COA used savings to buy cars
MANILA, Philippines—The P143.7 billion the Commission on Audit received from the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in 2012 didn’t go to purchase cars for COA officials, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters on Thursday.
Abad said the money was used to buy computers and hire “litigators.” He said the service vehicles for COA officials were bought using agency savings.
The DAP—an administration program supposedly designed to move funds from one project to another—came to light after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada alluded to it in a privilege speech in September. The revelation caught President Benigno Aquino III, Abad and other administration officials flat-footed and scrambling to justify the secret fund.
Its constitutionality is currently being questioned in the Supreme Court for supposedly undermining the legislative branch’s power of the purse.
“I told [COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan], we did not give you money for cars. We gave you money only for computers and litigators,” said Abad after Thursday’s hearing of the Senate committee on finance on the proposed P14.6-billion supplemental budget for 2013.
Abad made the assertion days after Tan had told the Senate, upon questioning by Estrada, that the COA had received DAP funds which it used to buy official cars and computers, and to hire litigators and consultants.
“The computers came from the e-government fund, and the litigators from the MPBF [miscellaneous personnel benefits fund]. Those are multi-user funds. What this means is that all the branches [of the government] get from those,” Abad said.
“I don’t think funding was given for cars. The cars were funded with savings within the COA,” he said.
Tan on Monday said the COA had received P143.7 million from the DAP to buy cars and computers and to hire consultants.
Tan made the disclosure after the Senate allowed her to directly answer the questions posed by Estrada during deliberations on the COA’s P7.97-billion budget for 2014.
It was the second time Estrada grilled Tan during budget deliberations after the opposition senator was named as one of the lawmakers whose fund entitlements or pork barrel allegedly went to fake NGOs in the P10-billion scam.
Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr. are the other senators.
In his questioning, Estrada referred to Abad’s defense of the DAP as a means to accelerate economic activity by funding “quick moving projects that directly support the Aquino administration’s socioeconomic development platform.”
“It appears that one of the quick-moving projects referred to by Secretary Abad is the purchase of cars. Is that correct? Is my interpretation correct?” Estrada had asked Tan.
Tan, a lawyer, withheld comment.
“Sir, I think the rationale for the DAP is precisely at issue in the Supreme Court so I would like to decline to comment on that,” she told Estrada.
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