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Palace to senators: Account for DAP

NBI probers to look into how lawmakers used outlawed funds

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda: Account for DAP. INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines–Smarting from the Supreme Court’s adverse ruling last week, Malacañang now wants senators to disclose where the enormous funds they had received from its purported economic stimulus package had gone to.

At the same time, the Palace rejected the idea of conducting a “loyalty check” among its allies in the House of Representatives following the filing of impeachment complaints against President Aquino in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

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“If you look at the beneficial effects of the DAP, how it has profited and benefited the people, do you think a loyalty check is needed?” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Monday in a press briefing a week after the court struck down the program as unconstitutional.

On Tuesday, the high tribunal declared the DAP unconstitutional. It ruled that projects carried out in good faith could no longer be undone, but the architects and implementers of the facility could be held accountable.

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Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told reporters on Monday that the National Bureau of Investigation was looking into claims by whistle-blower Benhur Luy that senators had coursed DAP funding to fake foundations controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the siphoning of P10-billion in congressional pork barrel allocations to ghost projects and kickbacks.

“We have the documents on that already. We are evaluating (them) to see whether we have cases against these senators and if confirmed (decide) what to do about them,” she said.

De Lima said the cases could either be referred to the Ombudsman, or the NBI could conduct its own inquiry and file a complaint later.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad earlier admitted that 20 senators had received DAP funding from the executive branch a few months after the Senate, acting as an impeachment court, convicted Chief Justice Renato Corona in May 2012 but denied this constituted a “bribe.”

Lacierda said “it would be in the best interest of everyone to see how they spent their funds if they did receive the DAP.”

“The use of the DAP funds were meant to primarily help the constituents, the countrymen. The question now is: Did the senators misuse those funds?” he said, noting that Senate President Franklin Drilon had already disclosed where his allocation had gone to.

On Abad’s list, Drilon received the biggest allocation of P100 million in 2012, followed by Sen. Francis Escudero with P99 million and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile with P92 million.

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Documents earlier obtained by the Inquirer indicated that Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong  Revilla, Ferdinand  Marcos Jr., and Vicente Sotto III sought to channel their DAP allocations of P100 million each in 2011 to foundations put up by Napoles.

Another set of documents showed at least six administration senators proposing projects after they had been told that an additional P100-million budget was available for each of them during the same year.

The requests were coursed through Drilon, then the finance committee chair.

Lacierda said there was still no word on when the President intends to address the issue. “We will just wait for the [time] when the President will decide to speak on the DAP,” he said.

Also conspicuously silent on the matter was Abad, chief architect of the supposed economic stimulus program.

Last year, Aquino spoke before foreign journalists claiming that there was a conspiracy to attack his administration over the DAP. He then sought to distance the DAP from the graft-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the congressional pork barrel, but admitted that “9 percent” of DAP money went to projects “undertaken through consultation with our legislators.”

But he did not say that 9 percent meant that P12.8 billion of P142.23 billion in DAP savings was in effect spent like in the defunct PDAF system.

Originally posted: 8:01 pm | Monday, July 7th, 2014

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5 senators probed over DAP misuse – De Lima

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TAGS: Congress, constitutional law, DAP, Department of Budget and Management, Edwin Lacierda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Florencio Abad, Francis Escudero, Franklin Drilon, General Appropriations Act, government funds, Jinggoy Estrada, legislature, Malacañang, Ramon Revilla Jr., Senate, State budget, Supreme Court, Vicente Sotto III
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