Belmonte: Bigger DAP fund went to me
MANILA, Philippines—Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday admitted that he got more funds from President Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) than any other member of the House of Representatives.
Belmonte, who is also the vice chair of Aquino’s Liberal Party, added that he didn’t know that these funds came from DAP, which was Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s spending program strategy to stimulate the economy by impounding savings. It was perceived as Malacañang’s version of the pork barrel.
“Marami kasing lumalapit na congressmen for projects, Speaker ako eh, kaya hindi lang sa district ko ang funds na iyon,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte also made a clarification on the list of DAP recipients that was released by United Nationalist Alliance secretary-general and Rep. Toby Tiangco.
“It’s really hard to believe that Jun Abaya got [the bigger amount]. I’m willing to say that very likely the bigger amount went to me,” Belmonte said.
He added that he received the highest amount because many congressmen ask him for funds for their projects.
“I’m almost sure I got more than what he got. Speaker ako eh. Madaming nanghihingi sa akin,” Belmonte said.
Tiangco bared a list of legislators who were the top DAP beneficiaries, based on the DAP documents uploaded in the Department of Budget and Management website.
The top two recipients based on the list are Liberal Party high ranking officials – former Cavite lawmaker now Transportation Secretary and LP Acting President Joseph Abaya (P408 million), followed by Belmonte (P297.5 million).
All of the top 10 belonged to the ruling Liberal Party. Many recipients were also allied with the President.
Belmonte also clarified that the DAP funds were not coursed through bogus non-government organizations (NGOs), unlike in the purported pork barrel scam which has resulted in the detention of three senators and their aides for allegedly spending their pork funds to ghost projects for kickbacks.
“The thing to remember here is, one, I don’t know it was DAP; two, I never dealt with NGOs; and three, all expenses, whether mine or that of the other congressmen, were legitimate,” Belmonte said.
The Supreme Court declared some practices under DAP unconstitutional. Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who is detained over the pork barrel scam, had also bared in a privilege speech that funds from DAP were given as incentives to senators who voted to convict ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Meanwhile, House majority leader Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II decried Tiangco’s list as inaccurate.
The list cited him as having received the third largest amount of DAP at P263 million.
“His data is incomplete and besides, I think it is full of errors. I, for one, I did not receive P263 million. I’m definite that it’s P201 million,” Gonzales, a member of Aquino’s Liberal Party, said.
Gonzales also said he has remitted P180 million of the DAP funds to the National Treasury after the SC decision declaring the DAP practice illegal, and he has receipts to prove it.
“The city has remitted back almost P180 million. I have the receipt. There were two remittances made. Presumably it was because of the DAP decision…(The Commission on Audit) said that the money should be returned and that’s what the city did,” he said.
Gonzales said he did not course his DAP funds to bogus foundations.
“I have not given to any NGO, whether by (Janet Lim) Napoles or not. The local government unit is the implementing agency (of the projects),” Gonzales said.
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