Rep. Henedina Abad: I got only P169.3M from DAP, not P176.6M
MANILA, Philippines—House deputy speaker and Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad shrugged off criticisms that she received more in government funds from the Department of Budget and Management via the Disbursement Acceleration Program, as the wife of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
Abad said actually got less than what was reported.
“Sometimes, I feel shy to ask for funds [from the Department of Budget Management],” said Congresswoman Abad, who placed sixth among House members with the biggest shares of the DAP fund with P176.6 million.
In an interview, Abad said her district received only P169.3 million for projects funded under the DAP from 2011 to 2013, almost P10 million shy of the figure given by Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, who publicized the list of biggest DAP releases to lawmakers on Tuesday.
Of that amount, she received only P86.6 million for projects she herself proposed, Abad told reporters.
Other proponents of Batanes projects funded under the DAP, she said, were other agencies and legislators, among them Senate President Franklin Drilon, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, and former Cavite Rep. and now Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya.
Abad said criticism against her due to her connection with the budget secretary was not fair.
“That is sometimes not fair. I’m always identified as the wife. Sometimes they even forgot my name,” she said with a laugh.
Abad said at times she actually felt shy to ask for funding from the agency headed by her husband.
“But people come to you. It’s part of the work. Like any representative, it’s part of your responsibility to meet the needs of your constituents,” she said.
Abad clarified that whenever legislators asked for funding for particular projects, they were not the ones to identify the source of funding.
“The DAP is not a fund. It’s a strategy. It’s accelerating the savings, or the disbursement of funds that are defined as savings, but that’s a long story,” she said.
In July, the Supreme Court declared certain practices under the DAP unconstitutional, including the declaration of savings before the end of the year, and its realignment for projects not included in the national budget.
The congresswoman said she rarely talked with her husband about his brainchild, the DAP, a stimulus program launched by the DBM in 2011 to prime the slowing economy.
In the aftermath of the high tribunal’s decision, which is on appeal by the executive branch, the program has spawned anti-government protests and futile impeachment complaints against President Aquino.
“In our house, we rarely see each other. The time we are together, we don’t want to talk about our work anymore,” Abad said, adding: “Of course no one will want to believe that.”
She added that the criticism was part and parcel of being with the administration.
“Sometimes, you think, people will be more fair in terms of framing the issues, but on the other hand, probably if you’re in the administration, it’s part of the work,” she said.
Abad admitted she was affected by hurtful words about her and her family.
“Of course you are. It’s part of human nature. Then you bounce back. You remind yourself you’re part of the administration. They say if you cannot argue, you just pound on the table as hard as you can,” she said.
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