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DAP: 900 Saros for lawmakers

2 sources from DBM divulge figures on controversial fund
/ 03:41 AM July 21, 2014

The Department of Budget and Management issued a thousand special allotment release orders to facilitate the release of funds to the spending agencies for its Disbursement Acceleration Program from 2011 to 2013, the Inquirer has learned. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad (pictured) declined to confirm these figures, claiming that “more research” was needed. INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued 1,000 special allotment release orders (Saros) to facilitate the release of funds to the spending agencies for its Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) from 2011 to 2013, the Inquirer has learned.

Two separate sources from the DBM, who declined to be named for lack of authority to speak for the agency, revealed that the lawmakers accounted for 90 percent, or roughly 900, of the DAP-Saros but they could not verify the exact amount that went to legislators on top of their pork barrel funds as the agency had yet to complete its full accounting review.

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The sources said that the DAP-Saros received by legislators, worth between P95,000 and P10 million each, from 2011, when the facility was started with little fanfare, to 2013, when the economic stimulus program was questioned in the Supreme Court, which on July 1 ruled the facility as unconstitutional.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad declined to confirm these figures, claiming that “more research” was needed.

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Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said that he himself had yet to get a full accounting of DAP funds that went to his members.

Malacañang has claimed that legislators, in terms of value received, only accounted for 9 percent of the P150 billion to P167 billion worth of DAP funds handed out from 2011 to 2013, but it has so far refused to go into specifics, such as the names of legislators, the amount they received and project beneficiaries.

Late last year, Abad confirmed that P1.107 billion in DAP funds were given to 20 senators to dispel accusations by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada that DAP funds were used to bribe senators to ensure the conviction  of Chief Justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial in the Senate.

Aborted release

The Inquirer reported as early as last year about an aborted DBM plan to release P475 million to Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr., Vicente Sotto III, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Loren Legarda through the Department of Agrarian Reform, which refused to act as conduit. The funds were later rechanneled to the National Livelihood Development Corp. and local government units.

The DBM sources cited the P1.05-billion Saro issued to the Department of Agriculture in 2011 for farm-to-market roads as among the DAP funds that were showered on legislators.

Glaring omissions

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The sources cited glaring omissions in the DBM’s DAP project list, such as the P230 million DAP-Saro for the National Dairy Authority and at least two DAP-Saros for P100 million and P260 million for the Technology Resource Center that they believe went to lawmakers.

“The devil is indeed in the details. The only way to dispel the public’s deepening suspicions on the DAP is to release the DAP-Saros,” said Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco.

Renato Reyes, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general, whose group was set to file Monday an impeachment complaint against President Aquino on the DAP fiasco, questioned the lack of “good faith” on the part of the DBM when it released a DAP list. He said the move “raised more questions than answers” in the public’s thirst for transparency in the DAP.

COA audit awaited

Reyes pointed out that the DBM’s list of 116 DAP projects worth P167 billion as of July 14 this year included lump sum items with very general information, such as a P6.49 billion DAP allocations labeled as “other various local projects” disbursed not only to legislators but also to local government units and government agencies.

“This kind of reporting is meant to deceive and mislead the public. We want to know the truth about DAP and we will not stop until we have a full accounting of DAP,” Reyes said.

He pointed out that Commission on Audit (COA) Chair Grace Pulido-Tan had yet to live up to her commitment to reveal how much legislators received from the DAP.

He noted that as early as 10 months ago, Tan, in her reply to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s call for a full audit of DAP funds disbursed to legislators, had promised to make a full report.

Tan’s reply is still on the website of the COA, which itself received P143 million in DAP funds in 2011 for its computer upgrade program. Tan admitted in a Senate hearing that part of these funds were used to buy new vehicles for COA commissioners.

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TAGS: congressmen, Department of Budget and Management, Disbursement Acceleration Program, General Appropriations Act, Government Budget, government funds, House of Representatives, lawmakers, Legislators, National Budget, News, Philippine Congress, representatives, SARO, Senate, special allotment release orders
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