Vocal DAP critic also got P25M from fund
MANILA, Philippines–One of the most vocal critics of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in the House of Representatives was allocated the economic stimulus fund that the Supreme Court recently declared unconstitutional.
Documents obtained by the Inquirer showed that P25 million in DAP funds was earmarked for Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares. The funds were released in two installments over the past two years.
Colmenares is the head of the House Makabayan bloc, which is leading calls for the impeachment of President Aquino and supporting the plunder charges filed against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, believed to be the architect of the DAP.
The Aquino administration said it spent P142.23 billion in pooled and realigned savings from different government agencies to spur economic growth.
Shortly after the Supreme Court issued its adverse ruling on the DAP on July 1, Colmenares said the President could not invoke good faith behind his administration’s “invention” of the DAP as he “knew right from the start that the DAP is unconstitutional.”
In a text message, Colmenares said he was not informed of the source of the funds but he stressed that these were fully liquidated.
“I was not aware that projects I nominated were funded by the DAP nor did I receive documents that show these came from the DAP,” he said.
The lawmaker said he proposed the projects to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“I nominated school supplies and feeding projects for the poor to the DBM. I checked from the DBM if they funded the projects and they funded P15 million for hospital assistance and health kits under an item called Continuing Appropriations and not the DAP,” he said.
Colmenares said local government units (LGUs) fully implemented and liquidated their respective projects.
He was supposed to receive another P10 million for a milk-feeding project in October last year. “I withdrew in writing my endorsement when I suspected it may have come from the DAP,” he said.
Colmenares was allocated P10 million through eight special allotment release orders (Saros) released on April 14 and 17, 2012, a month before the Senate, acting as an impeachment court, voted to convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona for not declaring certain assets, resulting in his ouster.
Colmenares was one of 11 House members who constituted the prosecution team during the Corona impeachment trial.
His peers in the group were Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., then Cavite Rep. (now Transportation Secretary) Joseph Emilio Abaya, Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias Agabas and then Akbayan Rep. (now Dinagat lawmaker) Arlene Bag-ao.
Colmenares said he was not aware if the other prosecutors were asked to nominate projects and if these were funded by the DAP.
The first installment of Colmenares’ DAP fund were for the following projects:
— P2.65-million subsidy to LGUs (Mexico, San Luis and Guagua in Pampanga province; Dinalupihan, Orion and Bagac in Bataan province; Guimba, Muñoz and Sta. Rosa in Nueva Ecija province).
— P2.5-million subsidy to LGUs (San Pablo City and Calamba City in Laguna province; Batangas City, Tanauan City and Tingloy in Batangas province; Cavite province; Antipolo City, Taytay and San Mateo in Rizal province; and Sariaya, Candelaria and Tiaong in Quezon province).
— P2 million through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
— P1 million in LGU subsidies (San Carlos City, Bayambang and San Fabian Pangasinan province).
— P1 million to Philippine General Hospital.
— P325,000 to National Kidney and Transplant Institute.
— P325,000 to Lung Center of the Philippines.
— P200,000 in financial assistance to Camarines Sur province.
The second installment of Colmenares’ DAP fund worth P15 million, released through five Saros on Feb. 28 last year, covered the following projects:
— P10 million for the construction of farm-to-market roads in Barangay (village) Sua in Masantol, Pampanga.
— P1.8 million for two-classroom buildings in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo province.
— P1.5 million for a multipurpose building in Sorsogon City.
— P1 million for a multipurpose building in Baler, Aurora province.
— P700,000 for a classroom building in Tubigon, Bohol province.