Controversial DAP backed, hit
MANILA, Philippines—Opposition lawmakers continued to throw brickbats at Malacañang’s controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) although a local government leader in Muslim Mindanao came to its defense.
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong on Sunday said Muslim leaders “fully backed” President Aquino on the DAP, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling that the special disbursement mechanism was unconstitutional.
In a statement sent to the Inquirer, Adiong said Filipino Muslims think Aquino is “the best President we have had so far”because under his term, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), including Lanao del Sur, received the “largest government fund support.”
Adiong said the fund actually “bettered the lives of residents of the five-province ARMM.” Aside from Lanao del Sur, the other ARMM provinces are Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.
He did not give figures to show how their lives have improved.
“Before the issuance of the Supreme Court ruling, we already received substantial funds to build good roads, sufficient water systems, irrigation facilities and other vital infrastructure that are now mostly completed,”Adiong said.
On the other hand, Sen. Nancy Binay said she had reasons to doubt Malacañang’s claim that the DAP was meant to jump-start the economy and was carefully studied.
She wants the Department of Budget and Management to produce the studies it used to determine which projects it would fund under the DAP.
In a statement, Binay said, “I hope the DBM will present the studies for the projects it chose to fund under the DAP because it was supposed to have followed a criteria in choosing these (projects). What is scary is that it seems as if there were no studies conducted.”
According to her, it appeared that it was just Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s discretion where to put the money. The criteria for selection—that it would be instrumental in poverty alleviation, economic expansion, climate change mitigation, and would have a multiplier effect on the economy—was not followed, she contended.
During the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the DAP last week, she questioned the P70 million set aside for a stem cell research project, saying there were more urgent needs, such as the purchase of hospital beds.
The DAP is an administration program that was used pooled savings and unspent funds.
The Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling, invalidated several activities under the DAP, including the cross-border transfer of savings and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings even before the end of the fiscal year.
The administration has since filed a motion for reconsideration on the court’s decision.
Some P144.3 billion had been released for DAP projects, out of the P157 billion approved proposals.
Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate also criticized the DAP, saying the first and choicest portions of the “unconstitutional and illegal funds” apparently went to close allies like Senate President Frank Drilon and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.–Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao; and Leila Salaveria