We have right to criticize DAP, says fund recipient Colmenares
MANILA, Philippines–We’re not hypocrites.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares on Thursday said he and his group did not lose their credibility for criticizing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) although they unwittingly benefited from the unconstitutional stimulus package.
“The fact that a project endorsed by Bayan Muna was, without our knowledge, funded by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) using the DAP does not mean we have no right to criticize the DAP,” said the leader of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives.
Colmenares has led calls to impeach President Aquino in connection with the Supreme Court decision striking down portions of the DAP, which was introduced by the administration in 2011 to speed up government spending and pump-prime the economy.
P25M in 2 years
But the Inquirer reported on Thursday that the congressman was also among the beneficiaries of the controversial program, having received P25 million in two installments over the past two years.
Colmenares, the senior deputy minority leader, said the disclosure did not mean “we lost credibility to assail the DAP for being blatantly unconstitutional, illegal, antipoor and antipeople.”
“When Budget Secretary Butch Abad and the Hyatt 10 jumped over to the side of the opposition after the ‘Hello Garci’ scandal erupted, we did not charge them with hypocrisy or [with being] bereft of credibility for benefiting as Cabinet members of [then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] only to condemn her later for her crimes,” he said.
He was referring to the 10 Cabinet members and agency heads (incidentally, including Abad) who broke away from the Arroyo administration and called for her resignation at the height of the wiretapping scandal involving her alleged conversations with an election commissioner to rig the 2004 presidential election.
Colmenares said it was only Malacañang that knew that projects endorsed by lawmakers were to be funded using the DAP.
“I nominated projects for hospitals, health kits, farm-to-market roads and school buildings to the DBM, which approved it and directly funded these projects under an item called ‘continuing appropriations,’ not DAP,” he said.
“It really came as a surprise to me when the DBM said it came from the DAP,” Colmenares said.
He further noted that on Oct. 14, 2013, he withdrew in writing his endorsement of a P10-million project when he began to suspect it might have come from the DAP.
Colmenares released a copy of his letter to the National Dairy Authority, which he said became the basis for the agency to return the P10-million DAP fund to the national treasury.
“If they expect that I will desist from assailing the DAP and the pork barrel system because of their attack, they’re wrong. I will continue to advocate against the pork barrel and I will endorse the impeachment complaint against President Aquino,” he said.
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